Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains kicked off the Canada 2020 Innovation Project in Ottawa yesterday, opening a public forum called Canada’s Next Big Challenge: Being Innovative, with a panel composed of Shopify Chief Operating Officer Harley Finkelstein, GE CEO Elyse Allan, TAXI CEO Paul Lavoie, MaRS Discovery District Senior Advisor Zayna Khayat, and Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly.
A recording of this panel, which was live streamed yesterday, can be watched here.
“Canada needs a bold, coordinated strategy on innovation that delivers results for all Canadians,” said Minister Bains. “This engagement process reflects the Government’s commitment to mobilizing all Canadians to action and to fostering innovation as a Canadian value. We don’t need another report on what our challenges are. We need fresh ideas and a joint action plan that will make innovation a national priority and put Canada on a firm path to long-term economic growth.”
Minister Bains also indicated that the federal government will be soliciting input from Canadians to develop an Innovation Agenda, which will focus on strengthening six key aspects for improvement: promoting an entrepreneurial and creative society, supporting global science excellence, building world-leading clusters and partnerships, growing companies and accelerating clean growth, competing in a digital world, and improving ease of doing business.
In effect, Minister Bains advised the public to “watch this space”, inviting Canadians “to watch for the launch of an interactive website that will allow them to offer their suggestions on positioning Canada as a global leader in innovation.”
The announcement of the creation of the government’s Innovation Agenda team can be viewed on Periscope here.
Although details on the interactive website are scant, the Canadian government promises that it “will allow all Canadians an opportunity to offer their views on how Canada can support innovation and to vote on ideas presented by other Canadians.”
There will also be a series of round-table discussions taking place across the country, hosted by innovators representing the private sector, universities and colleges, the not-for-profit sector, social entrepreneurs, and businesses owned and operated by Indigenous people.
Minister Bains pointed out that Canada has a lot of challenges to overcome to create an ecosystem capable of helping entrepreneurs and innovators become players on the global stage, such as the fact that Canada ranks 22nd in business spending on R&D among 34 of the world’s most advanced economies.
Canada also still has to create an atmosphere that makes it easier for companies to attract a skilled workforce from outside the country.
Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan has also been charged with leading an expert independent panel to review federal funding of fundamental science, which will spend six months taking advice from Canada’s research community.
Minister Bains’ Twitter feed identified University of Toronto visiting professor Arvind Gupta, Pivotal Point chief innovation consultant Valerie Fox, University of Calgary president Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, Global Institute for Food Security CEO Maurice Moloney, MaRS Development District CEO Ilse Treurnicht, Simon Fraser University innovation lecturer Sarah Lubik, Brookmere Management Group founder Mark Podlasly, Fonds solidarité FTQ senior vice-president Janie Béïque, Sr., Blockstream co-founder and CEO Austin Hill, and Sequence Bio founder and CEO Dr. Tyler Wish as leaders on the government’s Innovation Team.