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Technology roadmaps

Archived - Technology Roadmapping: A Guide for Government Employees

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Boosting Technological Innovation

Innovation — based on new technology — plays an enormous role in any company's success. Innovative companies enjoy greater sales, profitability and global market share. That Canada's innovation performance has been weaker than other G7 countries is a strong rationale for seeking new ways to boost Canadian innovation.

If the pace of innovation is to be stepped up, it is essential that there be greater collaboration between partners sharing common innovation goals. Technology roadmapping brings players together to collaborate in a far-reaching planning process and opens the door to collaborative research and development (R&D). It can play a key role in enhancing innovation.

A technology roadmap does not predict future breakthroughs in science or technology; rather, it forecasts and articulates the elements required to address future technological needs. A roadmap describes a given future, based on the shared vision of the people developing the roadmap, and provides a framework for making that future happen technologically.

American experience shows technology roadmapping is an effective tool for making strategic R&D decisions. Roadmapping goes back to the late 1980s, when several American corporations, such as Motorola, began using it to determine the best pathway to prepare to address future markets. Today, many American companies use roadmapping to plan their technology advances. And the trend has spread to other countries. Technology roadmapping can help Canadian industry strive for increased innovation, competitiveness and market share.

Why a guide to technology roadmapping?

This guide aims to help you, a government employee, support industry partners as they produce a technology roadmap. It deals with the concept and benefits of technology roadmapping, the role of government departments and staff, and the steps in producing a roadmap.

Through their combined roadmap experience, Industry Canada staff in partnership with other federal departments and agencies, created this guide. It also draws on other Canadian and American roadmapping experience.

Industry Canada's Technology Roadmapping Initiative

Industry Canada launched the Technology Roadmapping Initiative in 1995 as part of its strategic plan to support Canadian innovation. Since then, government, private companies, researchers and others have come together in roadmapping projects. Along with government, more than 400 industry representatives (from 220 companies) and some 50 non-industry people (from universities, research institutes and associations) have worked to produce technology roadmaps.

Government has experience in roadmapping; Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the National Research Council either have done roadmapping or are examining the possibilities of roadmapping within their client sectors. A federal Technology Roadmapping Network, composed of employees from several departments, meets regularly to exchange information and best practices. The Network aims to ensure the federal government makes the strongest possible contribution to technology roadmapping in this country.

The roadmaps completed in the first five years of the Technology Roadmapping Initiative have served a variety of industries, including aerospace, aluminum production and products, electricity, forestry, geomatics, lumber and wood products, medical imaging, and metal casting. These early roadmaps have helped government understand the challenges of roadmapping and equipped us to support the process more effectively. Since 2000, work has begun on technology roadmaps for other sectors, including bio-pharmaceuticals, "intelligent buildings," marine engineering, and photonics.

The private sector has primary responsibility for increasing technological innovation. However, federal policies and programs have a role. Government's support of education and skills development, industrial partnerships, and R&D should align to the current and future needs of industry. Technology roadmapping helps clarify these needs.

If government provides a strong, coherent approach to roadmapping, Canadian industry will more enthusiastically embrace government assistance in using this strategic tool.