Canada’s Innovation Gap Examined
Why does Finland produce a company like Nokia and play on the world stage of innovation while Canada’s R&D leader Nortel sinks lower and lower? Konrad Yakabuski provides an in-depth examination of Canada’s lamentable track record in innovation, contrasting it with Finland’s continued growth and prosperity.
The article is well worth reading, and elaborates on many of the problems already highlighted by recent reports, such as the STIC report and the report by the Canadian Council of Academics. Highlighting the piece is the fact that Nortel’s expenditure on R&D fell by more than 70% between 2000 and 2008 – nonetheless, Nortel remains one of Canada’s most R&D intensive firms. Canada’s industrial foundations – the oil and gas industry, natural resource industries, and automotive industry – don’t spend on R&D like the industries in other Asian and European countries. Worse, we don’t seem to care, even when our industry giant, Nortel, is bankrupt and broken into pieces – even though key subsidiaries are being bought up by more innovative companies like, tellingly, Nokia.
The article points out that while other countries are raising their standards of living through increases in productivity, our lack of innovation means our relative wealth is falling. Innovation is the only solution to that problem, and will require a major change in Canadian attitudes and policy.