Launch of Innovation Agenda
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
June 14, 2016
Check Against Delivery
Positioning Canada to lead
Good afternoon, everyone.
Today, we continue the important work of strengthening Canada's middle class.
The reason is simple.
Canada only thrives when the middle class thrives.
That's why we need to invest in innovation.
We need to position Canada as a world leader in turning ideas into solutions, science into technologies, skills into jobs and start-up companies into global successes.
That's what innovation is all about.
Our government has a vision: to build Canada as a global centre for innovation.
That means creating good-paying jobs for the middle class, driving growth across all industries and improving the lives of all Canadians.
That's the purpose of the Innovation Agenda that my fellow ministers and I are putting forward today.
Six areas for action
To position Canada as a global centre for innovation, our government will focus on six areas for action.
First, we want to foster an entrepreneurial and creative society.
We want to prepare Canadians to embrace change, take smart risks and be resourceful enough to create their own opportunities.
Second, we want to support global science excellence.
We want to invest in world-class science and research.
And we want Canada to be the destination of choice for the best and brightest people from around the world.
Third, we want to build world-leading clusters of innovation.
We recognize that science, insight and innovation are interconnected and tend to work in tandem.
We believe that businesses, post-secondary institutions, government and other sectors of society can work together to bring products and services to market a lot faster.
This is a model that Canada must build on.
Fourth, we want to grow companies and accelerate clean growth.
That means supporting the start-up and scale-up of small and medium-sized companies.
It also means doing more to keep these companies in Canada rather than losing them to other countries.
Fifth, we want to compete in a digital world.
That means capitalizing on digital technologies, such as cloud computing and driverless cars.
These technologies promise to radically change the nature of work and the way we do business.
Canada needs to capitalize on these technologies to give our country a competitive edge.
Finally, we need to make it easier for companies to do business in Canada.
That means working with all levels of government to lower barriers, allowing Canadian businesses to prosper at home and abroad.
With the Innovation Agenda, our government is playing a leadership role.
We want to make innovation a national priority.
But the Government can't act alone if Canadians expect to see meaningful results.
That's why I'm inviting all Canadians to watch for the launch of an interactive website that will allow them to share their ideas on how they would make these six action areas a reality.
I'm also inviting a group of respected leaders, who are innovators in their own right, to host a series of round-table discussions with Canadians.
Every sector of society has a part to play in building an innovation economy.
The need to act is urgent.
The global economy is changing rapidly.
Technology is transforming how we live and work.
Entire industries are being reshaped as markets and businesses race to adapt.
Countries around the world recognize the importance of innovation in unlocking new ways to expand their economies.
They are moving quickly in this race to become globally competitive.
Canada needs to act boldly if we want to be a leader in this race.
The good news is that Canada already has many of the conditions to support innovation.
We have a low corporate tax rate.
We have stable government.
And we have the modern infrastructure to move goods and services quickly across the country and around the world.
We also have a highly skilled and educated workforce.
I have seen first-hand some of the amazing things that Canadians are doing across the country.
For example, we are world leaders in the science of stem cells, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
Last year, a Canadian scientist, Dr. Arthur McDonald, won the Nobel Prize.
His research has completely altered our understanding of the laws of physics.
Call to action
But there are other areas where we need to do a whole lot better.
Let me give you one example.
When it comes to moving our great ideas from the lab to the marketplace, Canada has a lot of room for improvement.
For many years now, Canadian businesses have spent much less than other countries on research and development.
Among 34 of the world's most advanced economies, Canada ranks 22nd in business spending on R&D.
What would it take for our businesses to move into the top five?
How can we mobilize government and the rest of society to support this incredibly ambitious goal?
These are some of the questions that we want to get feedback on from Canadians.
There are other areas where we need to think big, aim high and take bold action.
For example, Canadians are good at starting businesses.
More than 70,000 new companies are established every year.
But we are not as strong at scaling up those companies and keeping the good-paying jobs that they create in Canada.
What role does the government have—as the single largest buyer of goods and services—in using its purchasing power to help companies scale up?
Here's another example.
Countries that are focused on innovation are attracting highly skilled workers in higher numbers and at a much faster rate than Canada.
We need to compete for the same talent pool.
How can we attract more highly skilled workers, researchers and entrepreneurs to this country?
Those are the kind of bold ideas that, as a country, we need to have a conversation about.
For years, leading experts have studied Canada's growth and productivity issues.
They have provided the Government with lots of advice.
The stack of reports that you see beside me is the result of those studies.
We don't need another report on what our challenges are.
We need fresh ideas and a joint action plan that will make innovation a national priority.
It's time to take action to put Canada on a firm path to long-term economic growth.
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