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Is Canada really the world’s 11th most innovative country?

A study from Bloomberg says Canada's ranks first in the world for science and engineering graduates as a percentage of the labor force. But a recent report from the Canadian government itself that Canada is seriously slipping in terms of innovation.

A study from Bloomberg says Canada’s ranks first in the world for science and engineering graduates as a percentage of the labor force. But a recent report from the Canadian government itself that Canada is seriously slipping in terms of innovation.Our government may be, according to some, committing a “knowledge massacre” with the recent closure of research libraries and making “bold moves to control or prevent the free flow of scientific information across Canada,” but according to one study, Canada still stacks up pretty well in terms of overall innovation.

Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index employed data from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the OECD, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, World Bank, and the World Intellectual Property Organization to rank the world’s most innovative countries. Canada come out pretty well, ranking 11th overall, ahead of Australia, the U.K., France and Norway. The top three countries were, in order, South Korea, Sweden and The United States.

The Bloomberg study would appear to paint a contradictory picture when paired with other recent reports. Research from the Canadian government itself suggests that Canada is seriously slipping in terms of innovation.

In May of last year, the Science, Technology and Innovation Council released a report that suggested Canada is seriously slipping in terms of innovation.

One measure the study looked at was Gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD). The study found that Canada’s GERD as a percentage of GDP peaked in 2001 at 2.1%. But that number slipped to 1.7% in 2011, even as “most other advanced and emerging economies have increased their total funding of R&D. Canada’s GERD rank, notes the report, has slipped from 16th place in 2006 to 23rd in 2011. “Canada’s GERD-to-GDP ratio stood at 1.7 percent,” notes the report “more than 1.5 percentage points below the 3.3 percent threshold of the world’s top five performers on GERD intensity. ”

Bloomberg, meanwhile, measured innovation using seven factors; R&D intensity, productivity, high-tech density, researcher concentration, manufacturing capability, tertiary efficiency and patent activity, although the weighting was not equal across the categories. Here is the weighting and where Canada ranked in each:


R&D Intensity(20%)

Research and development expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product. (Canada ranked 24th)

Productivity (20%)
GDP per employed person age 15 and over. (Canada ranked 11th)

High-tech density (20%)
The number of high-tech public companies — such as aerospace and defense, biotechnology, hardware, software, semiconductors, Internet software and services, and renewable energy companies — as a percentage of all publicly listed companies. (Canada ranked 16th)

Researcher concentration (20%)

The number of professionals, including Ph.D. students, engaged in R&D per one million people. (Canada ranked 13th)

Manufacturing capability (10%)
Manufacturing value added as a percentage of GDP and as a share of world total manufacturing value added. (Canada ranked 32nd)

Tertiary efficiency (5%)
The number of secondary graduates enrolled in post-secondary institutions as a percentage of cohort; the percentage of the labor force with tertiary degrees; annual science and engineering graduates as a percentage of the labor force and as a percentage of total tertiary graduates. (Canada ranked 1st)

Patent activity (5%)
Resident patent filings per one million residents and per $1 million of R&D spent; patents granted as a percentage of the world total. (Canada ranked 23rd)

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About The Author /

Nick Waddell
Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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