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Report shows how Canada’s most innovative firms put their research into action


Toronto, ON November 17, 2003 Canada’s most innovative companies import ideas from anywhere in the world and break down barriers between researchers and users to commercialize those ideas, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s fifth Annual Innovation Report: Trading in the Global Ideas Market.

“Highly innovative firms get their ideas from anywhere and everywhere in the world. They create synergies between researchers and clients that transform ideas into marketable products and services,” says Gilles Rhaume, vice-president, policy, business and society.

This news comes at a time when Canada’s overall competitiveness is sinking internationally. For example, in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, which was released at the end of October, Canada had fallen from 9th place last year to 16th place this year. The Conference Board says that innovation, specifically the commercialization of ideas, is the key solution to improving productivity and competitiveness.

“The innovation agenda must become more of a commercialization agenda, because the economic benefits of creativity are derived primarily from its commercial applications. The government of Canada has made significant investments in research and development in the past 12 months,” adds Mr Rhaume. “It now needs to turn more of its attention to supporting commercialization. Business will also need to be more engaged than it has been if Canada is to reap the rewards of innovation.”

A Conference Board survey of senior executives in more than 200 Canadian companies found that 61% of respondent organizations are “idea importers”, as they gather their new ideas mostly from outside Canada. Customers or clients are the primary source of these new ideas and successful firms use customers as lead clients in product or service development.

Internal leadership is also essential to success in commercialization. Sixty percent of respondents indicate that having an internal champion driving the commercialization process is the single most important factor in developing and market new products and services.

According to The Conference Board report, Canada’s most innovative firms purposely introduce formal business processes that facilitate synergies between researchers and clients, and practices for generating, testing, and commercializing new ideas. These companies pursue defined research and development activities. They are also more likely to collaborate with universities and colleges to obtain research expertise.