Electronic Products & Technology

Canada’s innovation report card shows ‘lagging performance’

EP&T Magazine   

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Canada’s lagging innovation performance demands transformative intervention across multiple areas of the economy, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Innovation Report Card (IRC), which ranks Canada 15th among 20 peer countries. The research gave Canada a “C” in national innovation ranking.

“The results are sobering and confirm a trend that has long been discussed by experts across the country,” said Alain Francq, Director of Innovation and Technology at The Conference Board of Canada. “In Canada, we enjoy a robust foundation in higher education and a vibrant spirit of entrepreneurialism compared to our peers, but we are failing to turn these strengths into innovation-based economic growth.”

Weak productivity and economic growth per capita is costing Canada billions in lost economic potential, dollars that could be invested in critical areas such as health care, innovation, building human capital, or growing the green economy.


The top challenges in Canada include chronically declining levels of business R&D, low levels of intellectual property ownership and weak industrial competitiveness. The research also highlights that a growing fear of failure is preventing many Canadians from acting on their bold ideas. Canada is second only to China in our fear of failure. It is crucial for Canada to reorient its efforts to accelerate investments in R&D, technology adoption, and create the conditions for individuals to start new businesses and for organizations to scale new products and services to global markets.

Serious concerns about Canada’s future

While these results raise serious concerns about Canada’s future prosperity, there are pockets of strength. Canada boasts a strong foundation in higher education, maintaining strong levels of post-secondary research spending and producing high quality STEM graduates. Canada also stands out among its peers for its vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, particularly exceling in early-stage entrepreneurship. The challenge is how to scale these businesses so they can compete on the global stage.

Turning to areas where Canada’s performance is comparable to its peers – multifactor productivity, venture capital, and scientific article output – there are strategic opportunities to enhance the innovation landscape.

Setting innovation policies

The report measures Canada’s innovation ranking against 20 peer nations using 21 indicators. These 21 indicators measure a country’s capacity to generate knowledge and top talent, to start new businesses and drive R&D activity to create and export new products and services, and finally, to measure the economic results of the innovation economy.

In addition to serving as a benchmark that Canadian policy makers need to consider when setting innovation policies, the IRC will serve as a road map for the Canadian Centre for the Innovation Economy (CCIE) where we will dive deep into each of these indicators, both at the national and sub-national levels, to determine what is at the root of our lagging performance and explore concrete ways to improve productivity and prosperity for Canada through innovation.


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