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Canada Fails to Put its Money Where its Ideas are—and it Shows in Poor Innovation Grade

Canada ranks second-to-last among its peers in venture capital investment and business R&D spending.

Ottawa, April 4, 2013—Canada ranks second-to-last among its peers in venture capital investment and business R&D spending, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s ranking of innovation among the world’s leading economies. And the rest of the report card doesn’t get much better, as Canada ranks 13th in the 16-country How Canada Performs benchmarking.

“Despite a decade or so of innovation agendas and prosperity reports, Canada remains near the bottom of the pack among its peers on innovation,” said Daniel Muzyka, President and Chief Executive Officer. “While governments, other organizations and individuals have done many things right, the gaps in innovation investment and activities create serious consequences for our economy and society. More importantly, we have now reached a point where we are seriously impacting the wealth and opportunities for following generations.”

This is a report card for innovation“It may seem counter-intuitive due to our low overall ranking, but Canada actually gets above-average grades on the quality of its scientific research and the creation of new businesses. But these signs of promise are not being turned into commercially viable products and services, and successful, globally-competitive companies are not emerging from our creative ideas.”

Canada performs poorly on most of the 21 indicators in this year’s revamped Innovation report card. By grade, Canada gets 13 “D”s, two “C”s, six “B”s, and no “A”s. 

Eleven new indicators were added this year:

Canada gets a “D” grade on venture capital. The rate of venture capital investment in Canada amounts to less than half of that of the “A” performers – the United States, Sweden, and Switzerland. Canada needs a larger and more dynamic equity and venture capital industry that is ready to invest in and provide guidance to Canadian seed, start-up, and early-stage companies. 

The Conference Board report, Financing Innovation by Established Businesses in Canada, discusses the tools and metrics innovators need to use to attract investors.

Canadian companies are also poor spenders on R&D —regardless of the business they’re in. 

Canada has been a “D” performer on business expenditures on research and development (BERD) since the 1980s, and spending in Canada fell from 1.29 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 cent to only 0.89 per cent in 2011. The United States spends twice as much as Canada on BERD, and Canadian businesses spend only a third (as a percentage of GDP) of what businesses in Finland spend on R&D. Canadian business leaders must recognize that the cost and risk of not spending on research and innovation are outweighing the cost and risk of spending and innovating.

Listen to an interview with Daniel Muzyka on the Innovation Report Card.


For more information contact

Corporate Communications
613-526-3280
corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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