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Technology roadmaps

Archived - Technology Roadmapping: A Guide for Government Employees — The Role of Government

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In all the early technology roadmapping exercises Industry Canada has facilitated, the department proposed the idea to industry. Typically, Industry Canada broached the subject with industry after the department had prepared a sector study. This study helped demonstrate that the industry had reached a juncture where preparation of a technology roadmap would be useful. The department promoted the concept to industry, meeting sector councils and other high-level industry representatives to explain the value and process of technology roadmapping. As well, the department offered contacts with a multitude of other organizations that could provide useful thinking about the future of the industry.

Several government departments have embraced this proactive role in roadmapping. As well, with the recent increased awareness of roadmapping, some industries have approached government for assistance in producing a roadmap. Indeed, in some cases industry has offered to cover the entire cost, relying on government only to provide industry-related expertise and other types of support.

What follows is a listing of the various ways government can contribute to technology roadmapping.

Provide data and analysis

One of Industry Canada's most important contributions, either prior to the commitment to do a roadmap or as the roadmapping process commences, is to provide a sector study for the industry. A sector study provides the baseline information on top of which the technology roadmap will be built.

Typically, a sector study discusses the industry's primary activities; the resources it uses; changing conditions it faces; current economic and productivity statistics for the industry; Canadian company capabilities; the industry's technological innovations; environmental challenges; linkages to other industries; international market statistics; current and emerging market trends; and requirements for human resources and training. This information helps industry determine whether it is at a strategic juncture with regard to new markets, new technologies and new skills. It also assists industry in appreciating and addressing the challenges that will be considered in the roadmapping process.

Garner support and participation from other federal departments and agencies

The lead federal department or agency, be it Industry Canada or another, can contribute strongly to the start-up and support of a technology roadmap by leveraging resources in other parts of government, including funding, expertise, access to research staff, and other assistance. Roadmapping lends itself to intergovernmental partnership, with many departments and agencies combining resources to forge a stronger contribution.

In the very early stages, interdepartmental discussion will determine the government resources available for a roadmapping exercise and, indeed, whether it is credible for government to engage industry to produce a roadmap.

Present to industry the concept and benefits

When it becomes clear that a given industry sector would benefit from a roadmap and industry is ready to invest the time, resources and expertise, government can help. As a government representative, you will present the concept of roadmapping to industry and work toward gaining the commitment of industry leaders well-positioned to lead the process. When presenting the concept and realities of roadmapping to industry, make it clear industry must lead the process and government's role is to support. This also is the time to provide accurate information about how much financial support government can provide, and to address industry expectations and misconceptions about government readiness to fund R&D after the roadmap is complete.

As you promote the roadmap idea, you might meet academics, research organizations and others who can assist in the roadmapping exercise for the target industry, thus creating the network of experts whose insights can contribute to roadmapping.

Help industry bring in the requisite skills and knowledge

Roadmapping requires inputs from a variety of groups. The process might draw on major companies within the industry, technologists, market strategists, government's sector specialists, economic analysts, policy makers, educators, R&D specialists, universities, manufacturers, key customers, and members of the industry's supply chain. Diversified players offer a variety of perspectives. Broad participation also provides a multitude of talent resources, from which appropriate people can be drawn for various roles — serving on the steering committee, the technology working groups, or other committees. Government participants, with links to diverse industry players, can be well positioned to help industry representatives assign roles and coordinate various players' participation.

Act as meeting facilitator or roadmap manager

When government employees facilitate roadmaps, they do not necessarily lead meetings. Industry leads the process and makes all the major decisions. The role of Industry Canada, or other government departments, is to contribute funds and assistance, and make sure the requisite meetings take place and yield results.

You can help industry handle many of the early tasks. You can consult with industry players to determine the extent of interest. You might help establish a steering committee, identify and engage an industry champion, establish a vision for the industry, define the scope and boundaries of the roadmap, or work out confidentiality arrangements.

Once the roadmapping process is underway, your role is to help organize the meetings, report on progress, and assist in setting the agenda for the next steps. If called upon, you also could provide information on policy, regulation or other government-related matters.

Provide government funding and support services

Industry Canada and other government departments have covered some expenses for roadmapping, such as a sector study, presentations to industry, workshops on the roadmapping process, meeting rooms, documentation, translation, printing, and website management. Industry participants pay for their travel, accommodation, and meals. Industry Canada has contributed approximately $125 000, as well as the time and efforts of departmental employees, for an individual roadmap. Some roadmaps have had the help of three full-time sector officers and one full-time support person. The government people provided sector information and analysis, secretariat services, assistance in writing reports, and coordination services.

Liaise with federal departments or agencies that influence policies and programs

Government employees who help industry develop a roadmap can provide information to industry on a variety of relevant topics. These include: policy issues; government initiatives that could have an impact on the roadmap; information about organizations that fund R&D; and opportunities for collaboration with other federal departments and agencies, or universities or other research organizations.

The government participants also can facilitate the flow of communication in the opposite direction, relaying information and insights from the roadmap discussions to policy makers, R&D funding bodies, and organizations that influence human resources training. This liaison helps government more fully support innovation in Canadian industries.

Monitor progress

With good project management and reporting procedures, all parties can be made aware of progress toward milestones, or of actions required to achieve milestones. Part of government's role is to ensure that industry and federal partners fulfill all obligations that can have an impact on the success of the process.

If the process falters, the lead department should act to get it back on track and making progress once again.

Disseminate the results

Once published, the roadmap must be disseminated within industry, government and R&D establishments. The lead government department can publish the roadmap document on the TRM website, and send it to any parties that might have an interest, including research organizations, private sector companies, provincial governments, and universities and colleges.