I-CAN™had a strong and visible presence as a partner and sponsor of the 10th Annual RE$EARCH MONEY Conference, May 11–12, 2011, in Ottawa.
The theme of the conference, Priming the Pump: The Role of Government Research Support in Business Innovation is of obvious interest to I-CAN™and its members. The conference provided an opportunity to discuss perspectives on Canada’s innovation system, how it is changing and where it stands among the most innovative nations of the world.
New for this year was the opportunity to spend quality time discussing the role of Canada’s government research and technology organizations (RTOs) and providing the opportunity for I-CAN™to step-up and engage.
The I-CAN™trade show booth made a strong visible impact with its clean and professional look that stood out and represented us well. Our creative team of Dino Zuppa (I-CAN), Bonni Clark (NRC) and Cam Zimmer (SRC) designed a series of pull-up banners, pamphlets and brochures that conveyed our key messages around I-CAN, which are:
- strengthening Canada’s innovation system and improving Canada’s performance in commercializing research;
- linking and collaborating but not duplicating;
- developing and deploying technology solutions to the marketplace; and
- providing a single “one-stop shop” portal to accessing Canada’s top mission-oriented RTOs.
These visuals provided a teaser for further discussions with delegates and provided a clear and consistent link to the messages delivered by our other I-CAN™colleagues during the presentation/panel discussions where we were also well represented. I-CAN™established a strong and visible presence throughout the presentation and discussion sessions given that, through our members, we represented about 20 per cent of the entire attendance, we provided a quarter of the 24 invited speakers and we interactive discussion panels.
Christophe Deutsch (INO), John McDougall (NRC) and Laurier Schramm (SRC) each spoke to aspects of the changing role of government research labs in regional innovation systems. Laurier described Canada’s family of government and notfor- profit RTOs, their role and differentiation in the overall innovation continuum, the challenges of working in the innovation “valley of death” and the role of Innoventures Canada in linking Canada’s RTOs to enable innovation. He also described some of the changes taking place in Canada’s RTOs as they expand their scope and place increasing emphasis on contract research, development, design, demonstration, testing and commercialization.
Christophe explained how Canada’s technology receptors are not only represented by large industry, while highlighting the importance of the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada’s innovation system. He also discussed “open innovation” and how both large and SME industry can access networks (like I-CAN™) of market-oriented RTOs to improve productivity and competitiveness.
John discussed Canada’s competitiveness, new approaches to problems and new approaches to collaboration, in the context of market-based business models. He also described new approaches to funding and stimulating business investment in R&D by establishing a strong results-orientation, clearly adding value to research investments and establishing the link to reducing business risk.
John Clarkson, Deputy Minister responsible for ITC, and Marie-Claude Côté (CRIQ), each spoke to aspects of “pushing the envelope.” John described and illustrated pushing the envelope in terms of emerging policy initiatives in support of business innovation, while Marie-Claude described pushing the envelope in terms of the evolution of leading best-practices that are continually being developed, tested and deployed by Canada’s RTOs in supporting business innovation.
According to Laurier Schramm, I-CAN’s participation in the conference was strategic as well as experimental, in that the forum and the audience were both somewhat unusual for most I-CAN™members.
Explains Schramm, “The experiment succeeded as I-CAN’s coordinated presence and consistent key messaging demonstrated a credible yet overlooked organization that’s now beginning to emerge on the Canadian R&D landscape.”