Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Let's take it as a given that "Canada... lags its international peers in training graduates in areas geared for boosting innovation. Those fields include science, engineering and mathematics" and that "Canada has likely missed out on billions of dollars because its innovation economy has shown zero growth for three decades." How do you fix this? Not simply by educating people in science, engineering and mathematics, because basic research does not by itself drive innovation. And these graduates will mostly get jobs with US-based multinationals, and if they do any real development, it will be through their US or European offices. And you can't drive innovation by directing funds toward 'Canadian' companies for 'research', because as we saw over the last ten years, they'll take the money and still not invest in research.

The best made-in-Canada (and stay-in-Canada) innovation is based on spinoffs from funded academic research that is supplemented with business innovation support and services. Instead of simply taking the R&D and giving it to a well-connected company, it is better to help the people who developed it bring it to market. The problem is, the people who really benefit from that are the people who created the innovation, and the people who are employed by them, and not the well-connected incumbent business and political interests. So it's an uphill battle getting the funding and support in place. 

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 6:07 p.m.