CSLS Invitational Seminar Series on Living Standards

Innovation and Business Strategy: Why Canada Falls Short

Peter Nicholson

Council of Canadian Academies

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On April 29, the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) released the report of the Expert Panel on Business Innovation in Canada entitled Innovation and Business Strategy: Why Canada Falls Short. The report presents a fresh look at innovation as an economic process. It finds that Canada’s productivity has been falling further behind that of the U.S. and many other advanced countries for the past 25 years. It argues that lagging productivity growth has been due to subpar innovation, defined as not just the outcome of research and development but also the day-to-day activities of all kinds of businesses looking for new or more efficient ways to serve the needs of customers. The panel concludes that too many businesses in Canada are technology followers, not leaders, and that a fresh discussion on innovation in Canada is needed, one that focuses on the factors that influence adoption of innovation-based business strategies. The report summary, Report in Focus, is available for download on the CCA website at www.scienceadvice.ca.

As inaugural President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Canadian Academies, Dr. Nicholson brings almost four decades of experience in academic, business and public sector roles. With a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Stanford University, an MSc in Physics from Dalhousie University and a computer science faculty stint at the University of Minnesota, he has complemented this academic background with a series of assignments alternating between the public and private sectors. These have included senior executive positions in the banking, telecom and fishing industries; and a variety of federal government positions including Finance (1994-95) and the Prime Minister's Office, where he was Chief of Policy (2004-05). Dr. Nicholson also served as Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the OECD (2002-03). He has served in a broad range of voluntary roles including the National Advisory Board of Science and Technology; the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences (as founding chair); the Research Council of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; and as founding chair of the Members of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. In 2002 Dr. Nicholson was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.

Attendance at this event is by invitation only. Subscribers to the CSLS Publication Subscription Program are invited to attend. For more information on this program please visit www.csls.ca/subscription.asp.

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