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Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

The Conference Board actively addresses innovation and commercialization, and the functional management of knowledge, skills, and technology within organizations—as well as strategic policy issues that relate these factors to competitiveness. The practice integrates Conference Board expertise in the management of technology, knowledge management, connectedness, information technology, organizational effectiveness, leadership, partnerships, education, learning, economics, regulation and taxation. We nurture and deliver this expertise through an interactive mix of executive networks, public conferences, workshops, study tours, publications and customized research.

How We Can Help You

  • Learn and explore best practices that you can apply directly within your organization to improve performance
  • Grow your professional network and enhance your personal development through joining our Executive Networks and Councils
  • Tap into and leverage our expertise in science, technology, innovation, commercialization, and SME issues
  • Engage us to compete research work, providing you with critical insights
  • Request us as a speaker for your event or with your team
  • Take part in our executive study tours to places like Israel, MIT and Stanford/Palo Alto
  • Learn and engage with executive peers in your field from across the country


Upcoming Activities

Network Meetings

Council on Information and Knowledge Management
January 23-24, 2018 in Ottawa, ON

Council for Chief Information Officers
February 6-8, 2018 in California, USA

Council for Innovation and Commercialization

February 12-14, 2018 in the USA

Council for Information Technology Executives

February 23-24, 2018 in Montreal, QC

Council for Innovation Procurement in Health Care
April 2018 in Toronto, ON

Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Blog

Millennials with Disabilities: A Large, Invisible Talent Cohort with Innovative Potential

| Dec 08, 2017
Inc., Sylvia Ann Hewlett - A new study from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) found that, according to the 2015 US government's definition of disability, 30 percent of professionals have a disability. Fully a third of Millennial professionals have a disability--a higher rate than Boomers or Gen-Xers. The data is based on a nationally representative survey of 3,570 white-collar, college-educated employees.

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Leveraging Community Partners to Connect Employers and Job Seekers

  • Brad Spencer
| Mar 14, 2016
Brad Spencer
Brad Spencer
Executive Director
PATH Employment Services

I’m Brad Spencer, Executive Director with PATH Employment Services, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities get jobs. I would like to tell you about how community service providers, such as PATH, can help your business hire people with disabilities. Chances are there is an organization like mine providing employment placement services for people with disabilities in your community.

Let’s assume that you’ve already come to realize what you have to gain from hiring a person with a disability. You’ve already been sold on the employee retention statistics and productivity studies. And you appreciate that people with disabilities represent 15 per cent of the population and that there is a lot of talent there. Maybe you have a person with a disability working for you and notice that your customers react positively. Demonstrating diversity in your workforce can strengthen your public profile persona, which helps to create an accessible and inclusive workplace. (“See Accessible Employment Practices.”)

But perhaps you’re wondering: How can my business bridge the gap? Like most employers, you would like to add to the diversity of your workplace, but you don’t know how to connect to job seekers with disabilities who can perform in the jobs that are available in your organization?

Fortunately, there is a network of service providers in many communities across Ontario that are dedicated to helping businesses hire people with disabilities. Many can be found through their membership with the Ontario Disability Employment Network. Many of these organizations are government funded, which means their services are available to businesses like yours free of cost.

These organizations will want to learn about your business and understand the kinds of roles you have and the characteristics of the specific job that you are looking to fill. They can work with you to break down the job by the tasks to be performed and draw out the skills and abilities required. Here is an example. PATH has worked closely with Gold Cross Home Care Inc. With an aging population and growing need for home care services, this business has been growing rapidly. It is hard work to attract and screen talent, and Gold Cross has been pleased with the enthusiasm, dedication, and positive attitude of the new recruits we have helped place—many of whom just happen to have a disability.

Hiring the wrong person can be costly. Organizations dedicated to helping people with disabilities get jobs appreciate that the performance of your employees determines the success or failure of your organization. We know our clients and will be looking to match them with you on the basis of their ability to perform the job. They can also add value by challenging you to consider a broader view of what makes a good hire. The essential skills of the job are typically where people with disabilities shine. Essential skills include interpersonal skills, communication (both oral and written), critical thinking (problem-solving), personal development (eagerness to develop and learn), and numeracy and IT skills. To learn more about employability skills, check out “Employability Skills 2000+.”

As an employer you don’t have the right to ask if a person has a disability, but you do have the right to ensure the person you hire can do the job. If workplaces have restrictions that impede mobility or other limitations, the specialists are able to assess the work environment and suggest appropriate accommodations. They can even offer advice on how to access funds to cover some of those costs. Typically, accommodations can be made with minimal cost and inconvenience.

If appropriate, a job coach can be assigned to help with initial training and orientation. Ultimately, if the individual is not well-suited to the job, the specialists can help with the transition, ensuring that your business finds an alternative candidate and the individual is provided with a more suitable opportunity. Relationships with the local business community are very important to agencies that provide placement services for people with disabilities. If you are challenged with finding great talent for your business, I encourage you to look into the resources available in your community.

The views and/or opinions expressed in this article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect The Conference Board of Canada’s position. Responsibility for content accuracy also rests with the author(s).

Obstacles Become Allies: Managing With Disability Sharpens Trouble-Shooting Traits

  • Anna-Karina Tabuñar
| Feb 26, 2016
Anna-Karina Tabuñar (guest author)

On February 2, 2016, The Conference Board of Canada was pleased to host the Toronto debut of a new documentary film, Talent Untapped, by Ottawa journalist Anna-Karina Tabunar. The film explores the journey of Anna-Karina herself and several other highly talented individuals with a range of disabilities as they navigate their own personal challenges and achievements. This 34-minute film packs a great deal of information about the myths and truths surrounding employment of people with disabilities. Storytelling is a powerful way to educate an audience, and the director leverages the medium well. Following is a thoughtful and visual article from Anna-Karina that illustrates the importance of focusing on peoples’ capability.

Ruth Wright, Director, Leadership and Human Resources Research
The Conference Board of Canada

It’s the morning rush and you’re racing to work. Cars and bicycles are buzzing by. People are jostling around you.

Now add this twist: You can’t see. Everything is a big blur.

That’s how Dave Brown perceives the world. He is legally blind. Dave has 10 per cent vision due to a congenital condition called albinism. His pink skin and white hair are also the effects of albinism.

What sets him apart is not so much the way he looks, but the way he works.

Dave employs a valuable skill honed not from schooling or professional training, but out of daily necessity. Like anyone with a disability, Dave navigates physical barriers every single day. A dip in the sidewalk can throw him off balance. An electric car he can’t hear can be a potential hazard. Just leaving home means mitigating risks.

“I need to be acutely aware of my surroundings all the time,” he explains. “Being legally blind, I need to be comfortable in my space. It is in my best interest to be there early, to meet people, to scope the space.”

Boot leather and public transit are Dave’s main source of transportation. Sidewalks and pathways are his lifelines. If one is closed because of construction or a snow bank, he needs a backup plan.

“Transportation is a huge deal. How and when I get around are a big part of my planning. Transportation can add hours to my day,” he says.

Dave works in a highly visual business. He is a television reporter with AMI-TV, Canada’s fully accessible television network. Most journalists rely on visual cues and the nuances of body language to conduct interviews. Dave doesn’t have that luxury. Preparation is his best ally.

“Before I do interviews, I plan ahead and choose a location that is extra quiet so I can screen out noise and distractions. I don’t have the luxury of a teleprompter or cue cards. I can’t use them. I do a lot of scripting work and tonnes of memorization. I have to be extra prepared. If I’m not, my work suffers,” Dave says.

“Having a disability, people can think of a bunch of reasons to dismiss me. I make sure than my output is better than anyone else’s.”

To put him ahead of the pack, Dave makes planning, anticipating, and trouble-shooting second nature.

Kent Kirkpatrick also knows that mode. Kent is the outgoing chief administrative officer for the City of Ottawa. He too navigates barriers in his motorized wheelchair. Kent lives with advanced multiple sclerosis.

As the highest-ranking manager for the City, he juggles complex issues and files. On top of that, he manages another imperative—his fatigue and limited mobility.

“I’m more self-aware now than before I had a disability. I have to plan for everything. It’s a function that goes on in the back of my head all the time,” Kent explains.

The way he communicates with his staff and colleagues takes extra thought and preparation.

“In the past, I could command a room with my physical stature. When your physical size is muted, you rely more on the quality of your thoughts and words to command an audience.”

When you have no choice but to circumvent mountains every day, challenges at work are merely molehills. When considering a job candidate who just happens to have a disability, focus on the capability. That individual comes equipped with innate problem-solving skills and ingenuity that will bring unique value to your organization.

Anna-Karina Tabuñar directed the documentary film Talent Untapped, which explores disability in the workforce and her own personal journey with disability. She hosts the weekly current affairs program “Canada in Perspective” on AMI-TV.

The views and/or opinions expressed in this article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect The Conference Board of Canada’s position. Responsibility for content accuracy also rests with the author(s).

Available Now

Lessons Learned From a World Innovation Leader: Understanding Israel’s Innovation Ecosystem Report

This newly released report is based on research and a recently embarked upon study tour of Israel’s world-class innovation skills, capabilities, and performance. It aims to help Canadian innovation stakeholders learn from Israel’s experiences.

The Privacy Dilemma: Is Good Technology Bad for Privacy?

In this 60 minute webinar, Ms. Lefkovitz will explore:

  • The relationship and the important distinctions between security and privacy
  • How to build a better bridge between organizations’ privacy policy and compliance teams and IT teams
  • The tool the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology is developing to assess and prioritize privacy risk in information systems

From Knowledge to Innovation: Building Canada's Competitiveness Through Knowledge Management

Don’t miss this chance to learn about the critical nature of knowledge management as a management discipline, and its potential to unlock the value of technology investments, collaboration, and the critical role it plays in driving innovation. Paul will outline leading practices from several Canadian organizations that are attempting to access the full potential of human capital, offering participants a menu of possible strategies to implement. 

Intellectual Property Strategy: Managing Risk and Optimizing Benefits for SMEs

Join Intellectual Property experts Myra Tawfik and Karima Bawa for this 60-minute webinar on the importance of having an IP strategy for small and medium-sized business in Canada. This session will explore:

  • What an IP strategy is and how it differs from traditional approaches to IP
  • The different forms of IP protection and how various forms of IP can be used in combination to achieve optimal results
  • How IP can be: ◦a valuable business asset: used offensively (to deter competitors),used defensively (to deter third party suits or to offset payment of royalties to third parties); used to generate revenue
  • The risks associated with IP and how to seek to manage them especially in a global environment

Ensuring Successful Transformation: Harnessing Knowledge

When it comes to knowledge management, change is the only constant. Technology innovations can improve how we work and communicate, but each new platform or capability requires a corresponding shift in employee processes and behaviors. Furthermore, a good knowledge strategy needs to align with the challenges and opportunities that are top of mind for executives, so KM goals and priorities are always shifting to reflect changes in the broader business strategy.

How to Effectively Navigate and Manage Technology-Driven Change

The Conference Board’s Annual How Canada Performs Report Card ranks the country on a number of factors, and compares those scores to others worldwide. While Canada performs well in many areas, our track record on productivity growth in recent decades has been dismal, achieving grades of "C" or "D" relative to international peers. In fact, Canada has consistently ranked near the bottom of 16 countries assessed for nearly two decades.

How Can Knowledge Management Drive Innovation?

Knowledge management is often thought of as simply a function within an organization, a necessary but fairly straightforward task akin to accounting. What if effective knowledge management essentially brings ideas and creative communities together in a way that drives innovation forward?

Free Webinar: Innovation and Technology—Increasing Canadian Competitiveness

Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's) are commonly considered the economic and innovation engine of the Canadian economy. A staggering 99.9% of Canadian companies are classified as SMEs, making up 89.9% of all jobs within the Canadian private sector. When SMEs innovate and adopt new technologies, it can have a profound impact on the global competitiveness of Canadian industry. But how can we promote and encourage such a diverse group of organizations to adopt new digital technology and take Canada to the next level?

Driving Creativity and Commercialization: Innovation by Design

Representatives of The Conference Board of Canada and a group of innovation-focused executives travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a study tour at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The tour provided an experience not only to "see" and "feel" the day-to-day workings of MIT's innovation ecosystem, but also to hear from experts in the field.

Innovation by Design: Lessons from MIT Webinar

MIT has invested in creating the space and conditions needed to breed innovation, and scholars at the university have taken the time to study the results of their investment and turn it into something that can be taught, learned, and done by design. This webinar will outline three specific initiatives at MIT (innovation ecosystems, sandboxes, and big data) that exemplify the power of cross-pollination and lessons learned through innovative design and implementation.

Adopting Digital Technology: the Path for SMEs—Complimentary Webinar

The Adopting Digital Technology: the Path for SMEs report addresses how the adoption of technology amongst SMEs has greatly improved their productivity. During this 60 minute webinar, Sarah Dimick, report author, brought the report findings to life.

What Canadian CIOs Can Do to Help Drive Innovation

The New CIO Value Proposition: Leading Innovation for Business Value and Growth report addresses how the human element impacts innovation at a corporate level. This webinar with Sarah Dimick, report author, brings the report findings to life. She hones in on the role of Chief Information Officers (CIOs)—once the knowledge base touch point and key strategist, and now changing and growing to include innovation.


“The Council for Innovation and Commercialization provides an outstanding forum for networking with experts in technology and innovation. The thought provoking seminars and discussions provide a wealth of ideas which can be applied within your own industry.”

—Dr. Paul Smith, Vice President and Centre Manager, Xerox Research Centre of Canada

“A wise investment for extremely valuable open and unbiased peer networking not found anywhere else in Canada!”

—John A. Hill, Senior Vice President, Consumer IT, Rogers Communication

Technology and Innovation banner

What is Innovation?

The Conference Board of Canada defines innovation as a process through which economic or social value is extracted from knowledge—through the creation, diffusion, and transformation of ideas—to produce new or improved products, services, or processes.

STIP Quarterly e-Bulletin

Review our STIP Fall e-bulletin to find out what new webinars, study tours and meetings are coming up! 

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For more information or to join our mailing list, please contact:

Paul Preston
Director, Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

Marianne Fotia
Manager, Executive Networks

Darren Gresch
Research Associate I, Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

Amanda Pelkola
Sr Administrative and Meetings Coordinator, Science, Tech, & Innovation Policy