Archived - Progress Report and Contribution to Canada’s Innovation Strategy — Contribution of TRMs to Canada's Innovation Strategy
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This study is also intended to discuss the actual and potential Contribution of TRMs to Canada's Innovation Strategy. The Innovation Strategy includes three principal areas, which each include specific goals, targets and priorities. The three principal areas and their related goals are the following:
- Knowledge Performance Challenge
- Vastly increase public and private investments in knowledge infrastructure to improve Canada's R&D performance.
- Ensure that a growing number of firms benefit from the commercial application of knowledge.
- Skills Challenge Innovation
- Develop the most skilled and talented labour force in the world.
- Ensure that Canada continues to attract the skilled immigrants it needs and helps immigrants achieve their full potential in the Canadian labour market and society.
- Environment Challenge
- Address potential public and business confidence challenges before they develop.
- Ensure that Canada's stewardship regimes and marketplace framework policies are world-class.
- Improve incentives for innovation.
- Ensure that Canada is recognized as a leading innovative country.
In addition, a fourth topic area provided goals related to clusters:
- Sources of Competitive Advantage Are Localized
- Governments need to work together to stimulate the creation of more clusters of innovation at the community level.
- Federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments need to cooperate and supplement their current efforts to unleash the full innovation potential of communities across Canada. Efforts must be guided by community-based assessments of local strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.
This section of the report discusses the relationship between the TRMs and goals in each of these four areas of the Innovation Strategy.
Knowledge Performance Challenge
Vastly increase public and private investments in knowledge infrastructure
This goal is focused on increasing investment in research and development, more strategic alliances and improved access to risk capital.
As indicated earlier in this report, TRMs are designed deliberately to encourage the private sector to identify, develop and share technologies that are key to their future success. TRMs, including all nine studied, focus clearly on encouraging the private sector to develop and adopt technologies. Also, as indicated above, successful TRMs result in the creation of strategic technology alliances or partnerships — a key component of Canada's knowledge infrastructure. For example, in preparation for both the Bioproducts and the CO2 Capture and Storage TRMs, the formation of a research network was an essential first step, which allowed stakeholders to become engaged in the TRM process.
TRMs do not necessarily increase the private sector's investment in R&D; however, they do provide a vehicle for maximizing the collective results generated from R&D investments.
This analysis indicates that TRMs can contribute clearly to the achievement of this goal of Canada's Innovation Strategy.
Ensure that a growing number of firms benefit from the commercial application of knowledge
This goal involves encouraging the private sector in Canada to develop more aggressively its capacity to commercialize and adopt technologies to remain competitive. TRMs align strongly to this Innovation Strategy goal in two ways:
- They assist the transfer of knowledge from publicly funded research organizations to industry and vice versa; and
- They can help to develop collective strategies on the ways that existing technologies can be commercialized.
The Nine TRMs provided several examples where they contributed to this goal. Specifically,
- The Biopharmaceutical TRM is exploring strategies for maximizing the commercialization of the R&D investment that companies are making and identifying the technology platforms in which Canada may demonstrate global leadership;
- The Fuel Cells TRM is developing strategies for stimulating market demand, improving quality and reducing cost, financing, creating infrastructure, meeting the demands of key drivers and users and product introduction timelines;
- The Bioproducts TRM is investigating mechanisms for transferring the knowledge and expertise of universities to industry;
- The Intelligent Buildings TRM hopes to stimulate the market by releasing a Best-Practices guide and by developing standards for inter-operability;
- The Lean Logistics TRM intends to bring the latest technologies to SMEs so that the industry can become more integrated. The TRM is intended to provide SMEs with tools to help make technology decisions; and
- The Clean Coal TRM will examine a number of emerging technologies and pilot projects to decide which technology pathways are suitable to meet the upcoming Kyoto greenhouse gas mitigation requirements.
Overall, the analysis indicates that TRMs contribute strongly to the achievement of this Innovation Strategy goal.
The Skills Challenge
Develop the most skilled and talented labour force in the world
Even though TRMs are intended to be primarily focused on the identification of key technologies, in practice they have also helped to identify issues related to skills and learning.
The analysis of the Nine TRMs revealed that discussions related to skills and learning came up frequently throughout several of the TRM processes. For example:
- The Fuel Cells TRM is developing a manpower strategy, and training policies and criteria;
- The Intelligent Buildings TRM intends to raise awareness of new Intelligent Buildings technologies among designers and builders and in the education system;
- The Lean Logistics TRM identified the need for more specialized programs at the post-secondary level and an analysis of the PLog professional certification;
- The Language Industries TRM identified the need for modernization of education at the post-secondary level and internship programs in language industries; and
- The Bioproducts TRM is expected to identify skills needed to support a bio-based economy.
- The Biopharmaceutical TRM supports recommendations which will encourage measures which attract foreign managers into Canadian firms.
Furthermore, the Intelligent Buildings and the Marine & Ocean TRMs identified actions that could be taken by unions to provide education on, and raise awareness of new technologies, and transfer technology related skills to younger workers.
The analysis of the Nine TRMs strongly indicates that, even though it was not explicitly intended to do so, the TRM process has provided a good vehicle for identifying skills-related issues and opportunities, and strategies and policies for training. This conclusion reinforces what appears to be an important benefit of the TRM process: when knowledgeable and committed individuals from diverse stakeholder groups come together to discuss a common and relevant area of opportunity, it appears that they will stretch the scope of the discussion to include all areas that relate to maximizing that opportunity.
The analysis indicates that the TRM process supports well the achievement of this goal of the Innovation Strategy.
Ensure that Canada continues to attract the skilled immigrants it needs and helps immigrants achieve their full potential in the Canadian labour market and society
The analysis of the Nine TRMs does not provide a clear and explicit linkage between the TRM process and this skills-related goal. However, the achievement of this goal could be linked to the TRM skills and learning opportunities discussed in the previous sub-section.
The Innovation Environment Challenge
Address potential public and business confidence challenges before they develop
The TRM process appears to be an effective vehicle by which a diverse or fragmented industry can combine resources to develop a strategy for success. Therefore, the process could be used to both identify emerging confidence challenges and engage stakeholders in developing strategies for increasing confidence. The analysis provided specific examples of this type of result:
- The Language Industry TRM is unifying a somewhat fragmented industry. Through the TRM process, participants are finding areas of capability to focus on and researching global trends and opportunities for technology development;
- The Marine and Ocean TRM provides a very diverse industry with a vehicle for "re-grouping" and cooperating locally so that industry members can collectively compete globally in niche markets;
- The Biopharmaceuticals TRM is exploring ways for Canadian companies to retain the industry in Canada and retain greater economic benefits to Canada. TRM participants are discussing possible approaches, as well as the potential of promoting benefits of promoting increased manufacturing capability in Canada; and
- The Lean Logistics TRM is developing strategies for SMEs to be current with the latest supply-chain-management technology, thereby enabling them to interface with the large North American "channel masters".
These examples illustrate that TRMs can provide a forum for discussing and addressing challenges that can affect the confidence of Canadian industry and communities.
Ensure that Canada's stewardship regimes and marketplace framework policies are world-class
As discussed above, the TRM process provides participants with opportunities to identify and discuss areas of concern that are important to an industry or sector within an industry and to make recommendations on policies to improve the environment for technology development and commercialization. For example, the Bioproducts roadmap will make recommendations on fuel taxation with the goal of leveling the playing-field for biodiesel. As discussed in Progress of the Nine TRMs Underway, other TRMs provided recommendations related to such issues as maintaining industries in Canada and funding/financing and regulatory changes.
TRMs can contribute to the achievement of this goal, although indirectly.
Improve incentives for innovation
TRMs are explicitly intended to foster innovation. The discussion above illustrates that TRMs are an effective incentive to innovation: they foster technological innovation, and they also provide a vehicle for addressing other issues that affect the future success of an industry. The above-mentioned achievements of the Nine TRMs studied illustrate that well-chosen and well-managed non-financial incentives can contribute to technological innovation.
Ensure that Canada is recognized as a leading innovative country
The TRM process has the potential to raise the international recognition of Canadian industry's technological status. The process is semi-public since, even though the detailed discussions are private, the objectives, schedule, and reports are often available to the public and on the web. This provides both the industry and the public, inside and outside Canada, with the opportunity to recognize that a particular industry is making a significant effort to innovate by undertaking a TRM. This visibility may serve to maintain or promote the innovation profile of the industry within Canada and internationally.
The analysis of the Nine TRMs provided examples where the TRM process contributed to the international profile of the Canadian industry:
- The CO2 Sequestration TRM will receive significant research input from an international project for CO2 transport and geological storage located in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. International delegations have visited the project and reported back to their national governments.
- The Intelligent Buildings TRM was the first on the subject in North America. This has attracted attention to the innovation efforts of the Canadian industry.
- The lead participant in the Lean Logistics TRM intends to present findings at a logistics conference this year in France.
Therefore, TRMs can increase Canada's recognition as a leading innovative country.
Sources of Competitive Advantage Are Localized
Governments need to work together to stimulate the creation of more clusters of innovation at the community level
TRMs are intended to increase collaboration across an industry. They can provide strong support for the formation of clusters at the community level by providing a networking environment that directly encourages the formation of innovation clusters. The section Partnerships Formed provides illustration of networks formed or strengthened through the TRM process.
TRMs can also provide recommendations on joint priorities for organizations located in cluster areas, such as research centres.
The TRMs discussed above provide examples of fostering cluster activities, including:
- The networking activities associated with the Marine and Ocean TRM resulted in a strategic partnership between the Canadian Centre for Marine Communications in Newfoundland , and the Technopole Maritime de Québec and BC Co-operative Ocean Information Network; and
- One of the objectives of the Language Industries TRM is to provide guidance on the programs of a research institute, for which federal funding has recently been announced.
- The Biopharmaceutical TRM encourages the maximization of limited science resources for a country the size of Canada in order exercise its strengths of being a world leader in designated technology platforms;
- Therefore, even though the TRM process does not limit the geographic region of participants, it does contribute to the networking that is essential to the formation of clusters.
Federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments need to cooperate and supplement their current efforts to unleash the full innovation potential of communities across Canada. Efforts must be guided by community-based assessments of local strengths, weaknesses and opportunities
This goal is directed at governments. Since TRMs primarily focus on technology development, as discussed above, some have produced policy recommendations for government. For example, though in early stages, the Bioproducts TRM is expected to provide policy-related recommendations. Furthermore, it has identified significant opportunities for rural/regional development, which will promote rural industry and at the same time be complementary to climate change objectives.
Therefore, since TRMs can generate recommendations directed toward government policies, they can stimulate action by governments that will encourage innovation.
Summary on the Linkages Between TRMs and Canada's Innovation Strategy
The analysis indicates that TRMs contribute significantly to almost all areas of Canada's Innovation Strategy. In particular:
- TRMs contribute directly to addressing the "Knowledge Performance Challenge" component of the Strategy because they provide a vehicle for maximizing the results from R&D investments, they assist in the transfer of publicly funded R&D, and they contribute to the development of collective commercialization strategies;
- The analysis indicates that TRMs support the "Skills Challenge" component of the Strategy, but they do so more indirectly by providing a forum for identifying skills-related issues and solutions;
- TRMs contribute to addressing the "Innovation Environment Challenge" component of the Strategy. They do so because they are explicitly intended to foster innovation, and because they encourage concerned stakeholders to come together, thereby strengthening the innovation environment.
- Even though the TRM process does not limit the geographic region of participants, it does contribute to the networking that is essential to the formation of clusters.