Science, Technology and Innovation Council finds Canada a solid performer in science, technology and innovation-but needs to aim higher on the world stage



    OTTAWA, May 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Science, technology and innovation can drive
economic success and improve quality of life for Canadians if all sectors work
together to build on advantages and strengthen performance, says a Report
released today by Canada's Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC).
    Canada's Science, Technology and Innovation System: State of the Nation
2008 - the STIC's first public report - charts Canada's progress and compares
Canadian performance to the world's science, technology and innovation
leaders. The Report benchmarks Canada's innovative performance against more
than 50 international and domestic standards of excellence such as research
intensity, commercialization rates, quality of research and workforce skills.
It provides a baseline from which to maintain a watch on key indicators and
monitor progress.
    "Our Report concludes that although Canada is improving, other countries
are improving faster. Canada remains a solid mid-level performer, but given
the importance of innovation to our future, this is not good enough. We need
to set our ambitions higher in keeping with what Canadians are capable of
achieving," said Dr. Howard Alper, Chair of the STIC. "We have a strong
foundation and a robust research capacity but we need to conduct research and
encourage entrepreneurship in ways that will create opportunities to translate
knowledge into marketable assets."
    "Others countries are focussed on improving their innovation systems and
the global baseline keeps rising," said STIC Council member David O'Brien,
Chair, EnCana Corporation and Chair, Royal Bank of Canada. "Changes in
technology, increased global competition, and the need to build employment
opportunities for highly skilled Canadians who can thrive in today's global
economy demand that we take action to improve our science, technology and
innovation performance and assure our future."
    The Report urges Canada to strengthen and better link all sectors of its
science, technology and innovation system if it wishes to maintain its
economic independence, competitiveness, productivity and quality of life, and
position Canada in the leading group of innovating countries. "Ambitious
outcomes require a collective effort by Canadian business, universities,
colleges, non-profit institutions, communities and all levels of government,"
said Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal of McGill University and a member of the
STIC. "No one sector is responsible for performance or can achieve results
alone, so we need to work together to nurture the capacity to create, apply
new ideas and finance their translation into commercial successes in the
global marketplace."
    State of the Nation 2008 substantiates that Canada has a sound base on
which to build its innovation leadership: Canadian research is of high quality
and Canada's funding for R&D and higher education ranks near the top; young
Canadians excel in science, math and reading; we have implemented measures to
attract the best international talent, and Canadian innovative excellence can
be found in virtually every region and economic sector.
    There are also areas where Canada is vulnerable. For example, Canadian
companies do not invest as much as their key competitors around the world in
research and development. In a world where talent is everything, other
countries are improving their education results and their support for
innovative activity more rapidly than Canada. Low literacy and numeracy skills
limit the ability of a significant group of Canadians to innovate and benefit
from innovation. Low levels of collaboration among companies and between
companies and researchers in universities, colleges and government
laboratories limits business potential.
    While Canadian universities and researchers are conducting cutting-edge
research, for the most part they lack international visibility and
recognition. In addition, when Canadian companies work to commercialize such
research, they often have difficulty accessing sufficient investment capital
to develop and sustain innovative new products and services.
    Seizing opportunities to strengthen Canada's innovation performance will
help develop a stronger economy and enhance Canada's potential as a leader in
science, technology and innovation. Specifically, the Report points to the
following areas for collective action:

    
    - Focus science, technology and innovation in areas where Canada can
      leverage its strengths to achieve global leadership
    - Markedly enhance business research and development
    - Renew efforts to attract, better educate and cultivate highly skilled
      people
    - Encourage, recognize, and reward the science and business innovators of
      tomorrow
    - Aggressively pursue strategic international science, technology and
      innovation partnerships to advance Canadian interests
    

    Canada's Science and Technology Strategy, Mobilizing Science and
Technology to Canada's Advantage, announced the creation of the Science,
Technology and Innovation Council. The Council was appointed in October 2007
to provide the government with policy advice on science and technology issues
and to produce reports that measure Canada's science and technology
performance against international standards of excellence. The Council expects
to issue a report on the state of Canada's science, technology and innovation
system every two years.

    The Council, chaired by Dr. Howard Alper, is comprised of 18 senior,
highly accomplished individuals from the research, education, business and
government communities.
    A copy of State of the Nation 2008, Canada's Science, Technology and
Innovation System as well as biographical notes on the Council members can be
downloaded at http://www.stic-csti.ca.




For further information:

For further information: David Rodier, NATIONAL Public Relations, (613)
233-1699 ext 243, (613) 884-2215, drodier@national.ca

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