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[cdn-nucl-l] Canadian Innovation Challenge
Posted on November 14th, 2001 on www.itbusiness.ca at:
The CANDU NG could be a part of this effort... and perhaps ITER? :)
Government wants Canadian R&D in global top five
11/14/01 5:00:00 PM - Private and public sector must work together to move
from 15th to fifth in global R&D expenditures
by Patricia Nicholson
OTTAWA--The conference was ostensibly about research and development, but
the word that was repeated like a mantra was "innovation."
At the Research Money conference on Tuesday called Meeting Canada’s R&D
Challenge: Moving from 15th to fifth in Global R&D, delegates spoke of
innovations in business, innovations in education, innovations in research
and innovations in bringing innovations to market.
The ambitious goal of moving Canada into the top five countries in R&D
performance by 2010 came not from industry or the scientific community, but
from the government, in the Throne Speech delivered in January 2001. But the
conference delegates seemed to view the goal as an admirable and desirable
one, despite its many challenges.
Current economic conditions notwithstanding, Canada needs to get up to speed
with R&D, according to keynote speaker Adam Chowaniec, CEO of Tundra
Semiconductor Corp. We’re heading towards a more knowledge-based economy,
and he says the economy will emerge changed at the end of this downturn, and
we must take action now in order to remain competitive in the future.
"Everyone knows R & D is the path to wealth," Chowaniec says. "The decisions
we make in the next few years are key to the coming decades."
Universities have the heavy responsibility of producing the most crucial
element of R&D: highly qualified people, or simply HQP. They’re the egg that
comes before the chicken of bigger funding. Nortel Networks Corp.
vice-president Claudine Simson says that once we have the qualified people,
the research money will follow.
So to meet the funding challenge, the first hurdle is to double Canada’s
number of HQP — from about 90,000 to about 180,000, according to John
Clarkson, Assistant Deputy Minister of Manitoba’s Research, Innovation,
Encouraging graduate students won’t be enough to meet that goal. Simson
suggests that in order to build the kind of workforce we need, we must begin
at the kindergarten level and push towards a culture of research, science
Government will have to make some innovations, too, according to Tom
Brzustowski, president of the National Science and Engineering Research
"The challenge to the government of Canada is to catalyze large R&D
investment and maintain it through policies and actions," Brzustowski says.
Government must provide the kinds of policies that improve the tax and
regulatory structures and encourage entrepreneurship, says Perrin Beatty,
president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.
But the big job still falls to the private sector, where the products and
services get brought to market. The industry seems to have a pretty clear
idea of its role.
"Business has to take the lead and have a passion for innovation," says John
Saabas, vice president of engineering with Pratt & Whitney Canada.
Beatty is also on the innovation bandwagon. "At the end of the day, the real
issue is innovation. What can we do to become more innovative?"
But Beatty also recognizes the inherent danger in making Canada’s R&D goal a
measurement of what is put into the system, rather than what comes out.
"It’s an input measurement, not an output," he says of the 15th to 5th
challenge in R&D funding. "The government thinks that if you stuff money
into the top, innovation comes out the bottom."
But for Beatty, and the bottom line, the end result is key to getting
funding. "You won’t get private sector investment without economic returns
on that investment."