I am firmly of the opinion that there is a deep and significant divide between academia and business which has created a vast commercialization chasm in many economic regions of Canada. IMHO the commercialization chasm is one of the greatest barriers to future prosperity in Canada and at the root of our multi-generational lack lustre performance in innovation. Canadian innovation policy is often drafted in isolation by either academics or policy analyst experts with little to no grasp on the practical realities of innovation and entrepreneurship. The following quote IMHO sums up the source of current innovation situation very succinctly:
“Learning entrepreneurship in school is a bit like learning to ski by reading a book on the beach.” Unknown
The same concept of book based policy development applies to innovation. There are plenty of organizations and think tanks in Canada writing reports on what’s wrong with innovation in Canada. For example, The Conference Board of Canada has been producing report cards on Canadian economic performance for close to 20 years and the latest was issued on September 3, 2015. The Canadian Council on Academics has produced close to a dozen virtually identical reports on Canada’s Innovation Paradox that allege weak business spending is at the heart of Canada’s innovation malaise. However, while authors continue to churn out papers, these reports contribute very little toward practical change or progress toward a solution. What Canada needs is a lot less talk and academic papers and a lot MORE action.
I have been fascinated by macro-economics, innovation, organizational behaviour and how highly interleaved these topics are for more than a decade and spent a lot of my spare time reading, writing and researching these topics. I also took the entrepreneurial leap myself and started my own business gaining a sincere practical, experiential appreciation for challenges faced by early stage businesses. The very early stage self-funded growth business perspective on entrepreneurship is conspicuously absent from almost all policy discussions. Evidence to this fact is that Industry Canada categorizes all business under 500 employees as SME (Small and Medium Enterprise).
The purpose of The BIG Picture is to spark some healthy discourse and discussion regarding policy which has a major impact on Canadian innovation performance and therefore our economic future. If you agree with some of the posts here, great - would love to hear from you. If you don’t, even better ... your opinion would be much appreciated.
- Ian Graham