Ottawa, June 7, 2007 -- Leaders representing Canada's high technology sector today shared views with federal Industry Minister Maxime Bernier about measures to accelerate Canada's competitiveness.
The delegation was organized by Tamas Koplyay, Research Director for the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), Program Chair, Partnership Conference Series, OCRI, and Advanced Technology Professor at the University of Quebec. Delegation leaders included Jeffrey Dale, President and CEO, Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI); Antoine Paquin, Partner, Rho Canada; Silvia Ponce, Professeure agregee, Service de l'enseignment de la gestion des operations et de la logistique, HEC Montreal; John Reid, President, Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), and Michael Turner, Advisor, System Strategies, Wesley Clover.
"Our purpose in sharing our views with Minister Bernier is to get Canada moving as fast as it can," said Professor Koplyay. "Our panel brings real-world expertise to bear on issues relating to research, exports, commercialization, infrastructure, purchasing and skills shortages."
-- Innovation Nation
CATA has assembled its priorities in an action agenda called the "Innovation Nation Platform", containing key planks and themes affecting the growth of Canada's advanced technology sectors. Canada's leading global entrepreneur, Terry Matthews, Chair of March Networks, is the national spokesperson for Innovation Nation. Mr. Reid quoted his spokesperson's view that "The market is the world". If Canada is to become an Innovation Nation, we've got to do a better job of supporting, growing and retaining our high tech companies and the people that power them." Mr. Matthews is joined in the Innovation Nation movement by CEOs such as Mike Zafirovski, CEO, Nortel;, Lionel Hurtubise, past CEO and Chair, Ericsson Canada Inc., Dennis Melnbardis, Lead Partner, Communications & High Tech, Canadian Practice, Accenture, and Michael J. Kelly, Dean of the School of Business Management, University of Ottawa.
The Innovation Nation has launched programs to create a National Brand for Canada, backed by programs to nurture companies into commercialization, such as the Canadian Innovation Centre; develop Canada's export Supply Chains, respond to the Flat World of global competition through the removal of trade barriers; improve the Research Tax Credit program; attract best talent; foster executive leadership, adopt best practices for national security, and speed the adoption of ICT by small and mid-sized businesses. To review CATA's action agenda for the industry, please go to:http://cata.ca/Media_and_Events/Press_Releases/cata_pr01100701.html
A leading innovation in the export field has been the partner program called "Commonwealth Advantage", headed by The Honourable Sinclair Stevens, former Industry Minister. The Commonwealth Advantage is pushing Canadian business matchmaking among the 53 Commonwealth countries that represent one-third of the world's population.
-- Delegation: commercialization push needed
Jeffrey Dale stated that there is a growing concern that Canada's R&D performance is lagging, citing OECD figures showing that Canada now ranks 15th in business expenditures on R&D. He noted that the main structure of Canada's Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&D) Tax Credit Program has remained largely unchanged for 20 years, and advised the government to conduct a review of the objectives of the SR&ED program including an in-depth evaluation of its effectiveness in producing adequate levels of incremental high-quality R&D.
Antoine Paquin said that barriers to foreign investors limit the formation of new capital pools to support the innovation and commercialization of Canadian technology. He advised the Minister to eliminate the 116 clearance certificate process so that foreign investors from tax jurisdictions with a tax treaty with Canada do not have artificial reasons not to invest. Pointing to a severe shortage of skilled workers and senior executives, he called for the implementation of substantial tax holidays for senior foreign executive talent in CEO, Marketing, Retail and Business Development roles.
Silvia Ponce called for Canada to set it benchmark of world-class research excellence, complemented by flexible production systems to compete on innovation. Canadian research has to move from R&D to production and commercialization. Networks should be supported, so that competencies and best practices can be shared. Investments and management are needed to support SME growth and consolidation.
Michael Turner noted that federal and provincial procurement practices are making it hard for Canadian technology companies to do business in foreign markets. Too often, overly strict non-operational requirements such as onerous experience requirements are used to attempt to reduce procurement risks. Poorly developed evaluation criteria ignore longer-term costs or benefits, leading to a 'lowest price at any cost' mentality. Unequal playing fields are created when other countries use their procurement policies to develop their high-tech firms, while Canada does not. The Industry Minister is urged to work with his colleagues at PWGSC and DFAIT to improve policies and integrate approaches.
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