Toronto Region innovation performance not up to competitor regions



    Finds first annual report on the health of the regional innovation system

    TORONTO, Nov. 6 /CNW/ - For all its strengths, the Toronto Region's
innovation economy is not performing up to competitor regions, according to
the first annual report card on the health of the area's innovation
performance.
    The 2007 Annual Toronto Region Innovation Gauge, published by the Toronto
Region Research Alliance (TRRA), adds to the growing chorus of organizations
speaking out on the important issues of prosperity and competitiveness in this
region and across Canada. A strong innovation and research-intensive economy
translates into economic prosperity and high value jobs in the future.
    The 2007 Innovation Gauge examines the region's relative standing among
the 10 Leading Technology States (LTS) in the United States. The Toronto
Region encompasses Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Peel, Toronto, Waterloo,
Wellington, and York.
    On the positive side, the report profiles an advanced, diversified
economy, well-poised to take on the world. The Toronto Region is home to
well-established, research-intensive industry clusters, including North
America's second largest financial services and automotive clusters, third
largest information and communication technology cluster, and sixth largest
bio-pharmaceutical cluster. The region's universities and colleges, research
hospitals and institutes, and research centres produce and attract top
research talent from around the world.
    The Toronto Region boasts a large, well-educated and growing population
that is connected to business and science worldwide through high levels of
highly-skilled immigration and internet connectivity:
    
    -   Toronto Region's 1.81 percent annual population growth rate is second
        highest when compared to the 10 Leading Technology States.
    -   Toronto Region ranks a close second to Massachusetts (43.5 vs.
        44.6 per cent) with people over 25 who have a post-secondary degree
        or diploma.
    -   Toronto Region is virtually tied with Connecticut (62.8 vs.
        62.9 per cent) for first place among LTS for households connected to
        the internet.
    -   At a national level, Canada has the highest percentage
        (20.8 per cent) of all non-OECD born migrants in its highly-skilled
        workforce.
    

    Room for improvement

    The Toronto Region's innovation system is not reaching its full capacity
compared to competitor jurisdictions when it comes to the processes and
economic benefits of the innovation system.
    "While the Toronto Region has all the fundamental ingredients for
innovation success, it is not achieving its potential when it comes to the
processes that lead to innovation results and economic impact," said Courtney
Pratt, TRRA Chairman and CEO.
    The 2007 Innovation Gauge reveals that, compared to leading technology
jurisdictions in the United States, the Toronto Region exhibits lower levels
of venture capital spending and patent productivity:
    
    -   Total sponsored research funding in Massachusetts was approximately
        $5.2 billion US dollars in 2003 expenditures compared to
        approximately $800 million in the Toronto Region.
    -   Toronto Region ranks tenth in total patents awarded among the 10 LTS.
    

    "The data indicate that we must do a better job of translating our
exceptional R&D assets into the marketable products, processes and systems
which will build high-value employment and sustained prosperity in the
region," said Mr. Pratt.

    Lack of information

    The report also identified a lack of information on key components of the
Toronto Region innovation system, thereby making it difficult to fully assess
the region's performance compared to other areas. The information simply did
not exist, was insufficient, or was not comparable to other regions. For
example:
    
    -   No mechanism to track the progress and growth of companies over time.
    -   Number of new businesses incorporated by category is not captured in
        a timely manner.
    -   No recent figures on annual wages and percentage growth in wages by
        cluster.
    -   No mechanism to monitor the success rate of efforts to take new ideas
        to market.
    -   No public, real-time tracking of Health Canada's approval stages for
        new drugs and health technologies.
    -   No standardized method to track the indicators in the talent pipeline
        such as intended major or areas of concentration of study.
    

    "It's difficult to improve what you can't measure. We should work
together to decide which indicators are important to measure and put in place
mechanisms to collect, analyze and share the information," said Mr. Pratt.
"Only then, can government and other stakeholders develop effective policies
and programs that will yield significant results."
    Work on the 2008 Annual Toronto Region Innovation Gauge has already
begun. The next edition will examine the capacity of the Toronto region to
integrate skilled immigrants into the labour force, the impact of citations in
scientific publications, regulatory approvals, additional commercialization
indicators, sources of funding, and comparative wage data.

    ABOUT TRRA

    Launched in October 2005, the Toronto Region Research Alliance (TRRA) is
an innovative network of regional leaders engaged in transforming the Toronto
Region into a world-leading centre for research and research-intensive
industry. TRRA serves the regions of Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Peel, Toronto,
Waterloo, Wellington, and York. The board of directors is composed of
presidents, chief executive officers and senior leaders from businesses,
universities, colleges, and research hospitals across the region. TRRA is a
results-oriented, non-profit organization supported by a wide range of
regional stakeholders and the governments of Ontario and Canada.
    To read the complete report and to learn more about TRRA, please visit
www.trra.ca.


    BACKGROUNDER - 2007 ANNUAL TORONTO REGION INNOVATION GAUGE

    In order to sustain and enhance the Toronto Region's innovation
performance, an accurate diagnosis of the current strengths and weaknesses of
the region's innovation system related to key international competitor regions
is necessary.
    To this end, the Toronto Region Research Alliance (TRRA) is launching the
Annual Toronto Region Innovation Gauge (ATRIG), a yearly diagnostic of the
region's innovation performance, based on a range of internationally-accepted
performance indicators drawn from the Index of the Massachusetts Innovation
Economy (MA Index). The report was developed in consultation with the Annual
Toronto Region Innovation Gauge Advisory Council, which consists of a wide
range of innovation and research stakeholders.

    Measuring innovation performance and Toronto Region competitiveness

    The MA Index is based on a conceptual innovation framework that describes
how scientific and technical knowledge are transformed into products,
processes, systems and services that fuel economic development, create wealth,
and generate improvements in standard of living. The MA Index uses performance
indicators from this model to benchmark Massachusetts against nine other
leading technology states (LTS) in the United States. This comparison employs
three sets of indicators - innovation inputs, innovation processes, and
innovation outputs or economic impacts.
    Because the breadth of data sources available for the US is not available
for the Toronto Region, ATRIG is a simplified version of its Massachusetts
predecessor and uses far fewer indicators. TRRA will add new data sources in
key areas and expand the Innovation Gauge in future editions.
    The Toronto Region encompasses the regions of Durham, Halton, Hamilton,
Peel, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington, and York. With a total population of
6.8 million in 2005, a diverse mix of urban and rural environments, and large
manufacturing, high-technology, and agricultural sectors, the Toronto Region
is comparable in population and economic size to many, if not all, of the
leading US technology states. Consequently, these have been selected as
comparators for the region.
    As TRRA's At A Crossroads (2006) study highlighted, national government
policies and funding programs are a key determinant of regional innovation
performance. Accordingly, this report also includes a number of national level
indicators used to compare Canada to other countries from the Organization for
Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD).

    Key findings

    The 2007 Annual Toronto Region Innovation Gauge reveals key information
about the region's innovation inputs, processes, and outputs.

    
    1.  While the Toronto Region has all the fundamental inputs or
        ingredients for innovation success and, in fact, ranks highly in this
        regard, it is not performing as well as competitor regions when it
        comes to the processes that lead to innovation results and economic
        impact.

        The Toronto Region boasts a rich array of research and educational
        institutions: 9 universities, 8 colleges, 12 research hospitals, and
        over 300 research centres. The universities and colleges award
        43 per cent of their degrees in the fields of business, science and
        technology.

        The region also benefits from a rapidly growing population and highly
        diverse, successful industry clusters that attract skilled personnel
        from around the world. Compared to the 10 Leading Technology States
        in the US, the Toronto Region lags behind when it comes to the
        processes that convert these assets into new technologies, products
        and businesses.

    2.  Toronto Region funding for R&D and new start-ups is lacking in
        comparison with competitor regions and countries.

        Compared to the 10 Leading Technology States, the Toronto Region
        suffers from insufficient public and private funding for R&D across
        the spectrum - from basic research to start-ups to later-stage
        venture funding. In comparison with other OECD nations, Canada still
        lags behind in overall R&D funding despite increases in government
        funding in past years.

    3.  The current lack of information on key components of the Toronto
        Region innovation system is preventing us from making the changes
        necessary to improve the region's performance and realize its full
        economic potential.

        Government and other stakeholders should start measuring key
        components of the Toronto Region innovation system in order to
        develop a true understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, and to
        find effective ways to sustain and enhance the region's innovation
        performance. Enhanced capacity to undertake a more comprehensive
        assessment based on greater data availability of this kind will help
        ensure government policies and programs are effective and yield
        significant results.
    

    ABOUT TRRA

    Launched in October 2005, the Toronto Region Research Alliance (TRRA) is
an innovative network of regional leaders engaged in transforming the Toronto
Region into a world-leading centre for research and research-intensive
industry. TRRA serves the regions of Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Peel, Toronto,
Waterloo, Wellington, and York. The board of directors is composed of
presidents, chief executive officers and senior leaders from businesses,
universities, colleges, and research hospitals across the region. TRRA is a
results-oriented, non-profit organization supported by a wide range of
regional stakeholders and the governments of Ontario and Canada.

    To read the complete report and to learn more about TRRA, please visit
www.trra.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Ruth Lewkowicz, Director, Marketing and
Communications, (416) 673-6686, or rlewkowicz@trra.ca

Organization Profile

TORONTO REGION RESEARCH ALLIANCE

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