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Canada not simply hewers and drawers.

July 20, 2009

Maryse de la Goridaye at Frogheart has a nice informal series on Canada, innovation, nanotechnology and Finland. The series takes its starting point from Konrad Yakabuski’s article I highlighted last week.

Maryse contrasts Canada’s reputation as “drawers of water and hewers of wood” with remarks by Preston Manning, who points out that early Canada was a scientific innovator, with the Geological Survey of Canada playing a key role in early nation-building. Maryse also points out that, despite Yakabuski’s rosy picture, Finland (and Nokia in particular) is also facing innovation challenges.

The problem, according to Frogheart, is that Canada is averse to risk-taking. While we talk about innovation, we invest in infrastructure. Even when we get risk-takers, the typical Canadian trajectory is to initiate and develop a company only so far as necessary to sell it to an offshore company. Maryse has an interesting perspective, based particularly in Canada’s (poorly supported, according to her) nanotechnology community.

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