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March 13, 2015

Canada’s Innovation Deficit

Months ago Anthony and I were interviewed by the Globe and Mail on the barriers to commercialization and growth in Canada. At the time our thinking was quite clear – our economy was burdened more by a lack of successful commercialization than by a real innovation deficit. However immediately afterwards we realized that we lacked real data when it came to positioning Canada’s innovation performance relative to its peers. With that in mind we put our resident data expert, Kirill Savine, to work on creating a scorecard that ranks Canada on a series of metrics against the OECD average.

Now measuring innovation isn’t easy. What is innovation? Where does it come from? Do R&D inputs adequately capture what matters? Are patents counts sufficient? We didn’t think so. The report subsequently presents a series of metrics that, together, represent a first iteration of what will become an evolving attempt to qualify how Canada performs on innovation.

The findings of this work are troubling. You can download the report here.

The data highlighted shows a country that is failing to keep pace with its peers on several input and output metrics, including in several sectors we might take for granted as successful. We invest less, see a lower overall rate of patent outcomes, and struggle to produce firms in knowledge sectors. Overall we see a rather clear intellectual property deficit.

While the report doesn’t include explicit recommendations, it ends with a series of questions that should frame the development of an immediate strategy on how to change the course of Canada’s innovation performance.


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