Saturday, September 29, 2012

Canadian Business Innovation Tanks Under Harper

Canadian business innovation has dropped from 11th to 22nd place in the world over the past year.

Earlier this month, and for the second consecutive year, Canada dropped two places overall in the annual ranking of global economic competitiveness by the World Economic Forum. Canada's economic competitiveness has now gone from 9th to 14th since 2009. This is just a small part of the story though.

The real story came out a couple of days ago in a report issued by the Conference Board of Canada, entitled Who Dimmed the Lights? Canada’s Declining Global Competitiveness Ranking.

In this report, it is revealed that Canada's innovation and business sophistication dropped 6 places, from 15th to 21st over the past year. Even worse, the report says that Canada's innovation performance dropped from 11th to 22nd.

The innovation performance indicator measures factors such as such as "university–industry collaboration in R&D, quality of scientific research institutions, capacity for innovation, company spending on R&D, and government procurement of advanced technology products".

Don't tell me - sending raw materials to Asia and buying stuff churned out over there in sweatshops no longer qualifies as "thinking outside the box". Combine this with the Conservative government's war on science and it is easy to see how Canada has dropped so quickly.

I don't even know how this all meshes with what's going on on the street. For example, at least four pharmaceutical multinationals closing major research labs in the Montreal area alone this year. The latest of these, Boehringer Ingelheim, will result in 170 high tech job losses.

On the link above, there is a table which further breaks down the indicators into sub categories. Canada is worst in Nature of Competitive Advantage (81st), Value Chain Breadth (53rd), Government Procurement of Advanced Technology Products (47th) and Quantity of Local Suppliers (33rd).

Solving the problem won't be a matter of simply ramping up university graduate numbers though - Canada is already 6th in availability of scientists and engineers.

Exactly how we're going to turn this around, I don't know. One thing for sure is that current Harper government policies have us headed in the wrong direction with a bullet.