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New tariffs implemented by some countries are disrupting supply chains and eroding economic growth potential. The Bank of Canada reports that trade disputes and geopolitical tensions are weighing on global demand, which is expected to reduce the level of global GDP in the short term Bank of Canada, The nature of competitive advantage and the business models of firms are evolving. They are influenced by the future of work; the presence of global value chains for production and distribution; the increasing importance of innovative and competitive advanced industries; changing markets and the rise of new digitally-led business models; the role of the consumer and the power of data as business disrupters; and the proliferation of clean technology affecting almost every sector.

To be ready to compete and respond to the new dynamics, Canadian businesses must create and seize new market opportunities, generate new commercial value from intellectual property IP , and successfully compete in the data-driven digital economy. Job skill requirements continue to change. On average, 14 percent of jobs across the OECD are estimated to be at high risk of automation in the next 15 to 20 years and half of all jobs will experience significant change OECD, h.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 8 to 9 percent of labour demand in will be in jobs that do not yet exist today. Not surprisingly, many employers have difficulty in identifying the specific skills their employees will need as automation continues to accelerate. The OECD i reports that digital-intensive industries reward workers with relatively high levels of self-organization and advanced numeracy skills. Those with strong numeracy skills receive an additional wage premium if they also show high levels of self-organization or management and communication skills.

In this context, Canada has the opportunity to prepare its citizens and businesses for the future of work through building on its highly educated workforce, world-class post-secondary institutions, and a strong science foundation. For example, the growing use of new technologies in business increases demand for digital skills and STEM knowledge, and encourages their development in workplace and formal educational settings UNESCO, It is rare for a good or a service today to be entirely produced at one location and then exported to a final consumer.

Falling trade and investment barriers, the revolution in logistics technologies driven by information and communications technologies, and other features of globalization have resulted in the development of complex supply chains and value webs. Data-intensive supply chain technologies such as advanced analytics, AI, robotics, and blockchain are increasingly powering and shaping these GVCs. Joining GVCs involves demonstrating advanced technology adoption, providing leading-edge products and services, and operating at scale to compete with the best. Stronger participation of Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs in global markets and supply chains creates opportunities to scale-up, accelerate innovation, facilitate spillovers of technology and managerial expertise, broaden and deepen skill sets, and improve productivity performance OECD, b, b.

Canadian firms that export and participate in GVCs tend to create higher-quality jobs at home. Advanced industries anchor high-value economies and represent opportunities for global leadership.

Innovation for a Better Canada: What We Heard - Innovation for a Better Canada

They include energy industries, such as oil and gas extraction and electric power generation; advanced manufacturing industries, such as pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, aerospace, and machinery; and services, such as software design, telecommunications, and scientific and technical services. The annual wage of an average worker in these industries is nearly 50 percent higher than that of other Canadian workers MPI and Brookings, They are enabled by flexible manufacturing systems and capabilities, powered by technologies such as advanced sensors, robotics, AI, and 3D printing OECD, f.

Coordinating and standardizing digital technologies for the next production revolution within advanced industries is proving to be complex. To successfully improve competitiveness and grow into large global champions, Canadian advanced industries must master the technological complexity of the modern economy MPI and Brookings, Technology is changing the way people and businesses access information, produce and buy goods and services, and interact with one another. The Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, clean technologies, advanced robotics, and promising areas, such as AI, regenerative medicine, blockchain, and quantum computing, are reshaping the economy, our cities, our jobs, and our lives.

New products and markets are being created and new business models are upending existing markets. In today's digital world, strategic advantages are often competed away more quickly in all but the most innovative firms, and even new business models have shorter life spans than ever before see Kiechel, ; Atkinson, Disruptive technologies may also be creating more differentiation between the largest, most successful firms and the rest of the market, fuelling a winner-takes-all environment Frank, ; Wilkins, ; Calligaris et al.

Changing markets and business models are placing a new premium on IP and, in many countries, businesses aggressively protect what they rightfully own through asserting their IP rights. Fostering a sophisticated domestic IP capability in Canada helps businesses improve the commercialization of ideas globally and innovators reach commercial success Balsillie, It also furthers discovery and creates middle-class jobs by protecting Canadian ideas and ensuring Canadians reap the full rewards of their inventions and creations.

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Digital technologies are creating and drawing on vast quantities of data. The global datasphere is estimated to grow to zettabytes ZB; a trillion gigabytes by , or 10 times the These data can unlock tremendous new opportunities for economic, social, and environmental advancement.

This data-intensive economy, however, presents new and complex challenges, such as how to ensure an effective balance between supporting innovation, protecting privacy interests, and promoting trust. Consumers and data are redefining the direction, shape, and pace of business in many industries.

Consumers access large data repositories to compare market prices and product availability. This is a positive development from a competition perspective, forcing businesses to become more agile to respond and compete successfully. According to Harrington , rapidly changing and often unpredictable consumer buying behaviour, enabled by the internet, mobile communications, and growing spending power, is making volatility and complexity the norm rather than the exception in retail.

It is fragmenting sales channels, escalating service demands, shortening product lifecycles, ratcheting up cost and margin pressures, and creating production challenges. Canada has a competitive advantage as a trusted data repository. The economic importance of its reputation for prioritizing privacy protection cannot be understated.

In addition, Canada is a top choice for European organizations needing a North American footprint due to its standing in the European Union as having an "adequate" privacy regime. By developing and adopting clean technology, companies and industry can better control costs, meet new regulatory requirements, and become more competitive globally Canada, Today, clean technology is a megatrend that will affect most sectors at varying speeds. In recent years, the focus of clean technology has shifted from a small, limited number of incremental innovations to new and disruptive innovations that rely on data, machine learning, and AI.

One example of the new wave of disruptive clean technologies is the emergence of smart and energy-efficient home environments controlled through mobile phones. For businesses, the Internet of Things tied with clean technology will be a game changer e. These and many other disruptive applications will increasingly depend on access to consumer and business data, and will likely require new approaches to data governance. Other leading innovative countries that recognize the size of the clean technology opportunity are making big bets to help grow their companies.

For example, the U. The U. To successfully scale-up and capture the growing global clean technology market, Canadian companies need access to risk capital, robust domestic innovation ecosystems, and many other competitive advantages, including a well-developed internal capacity to protect and leverage IP. Canadians are living in an era of accelerated change.

In the face of global forces that are reshaping the economic landscape and rendering past drivers of growth insufficient, new strategies and models are needed to boost productivity and competitiveness.


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Global leaders have arrived at the same conclusion about how to respond: investing in innovation is crucial. Investing wisely and strategically in innovation requires a clear understanding of Canada's current innovation performance to determine approaches that are right for the times in which Canadians are currently living.

Past science, technology, and innovation policies have created a well-educated population, successfully supported fundamental science, and provided broad-based indirect support through tax incentives. However, Canada has not kept pace with competitors in transforming itself into an innovation leader. Innovation drives productivity; it drives growth; and it drives living standards.

It is through innovation that businesses find ways to generate more value from existing resources. As a result, innovation is, directly or indirectly, the main driver of productivity growth, and is the principal source of national prosperity Nicholson, Innovation can be manifested in four distinct areas. First, product innovation is the capacity of a firm to introduce new products and services ahead of competitors, to anticipate consumer needs or even to create them. Second, market innovation is the capacity of a firm to decide to change its market geographically, virtually, or creatively.

Third, process innovation is the capacity to change how goods and services are produced and delivered to reduce cost, improve efficiency, and increase convenience for customers. Finally, organizational innovation is the capacity to convert creativity, market and customer knowledge, and technology into marketable innovations Lynch and Sheikh, Considering the various ways that innovation affects the economy, the OECD estimates that innovation accounts for a substantial share of economic growth, often around 50 percent of total GDP growth, depending on the country.

Innovation exists along a continuum Figure 1. People are at the very beginning: their creative ideas and resourcefulness drive the world-first discoveries, new business start-ups, commercialization of innovative new products and services, and creation of good middle-class jobs. They are the pipeline of talent that enables every stage of the innovation continuum. Next, fundamental research leads to new scientific discoveries that can change our understanding of the universe, and puts in place the building blocks for future experimentation. Applied research requires partnerships between businesses and researchers who apply their ingenuity and fundamental research concepts to create potential products and services for commercialization, leading to the creation of new companies.

If successful, these companies scale-up and export to markets around the world. The Government facilitates the ease of doing business through advice, direct and indirect support, and a regulatory environment that protects Canadians but is also conducive to innovation. People and skills drive progress along the innovation continuum, and are the pipeline that enables every aspect of innovation and growth.

Canada's aging research infrastructure is an obstacle to performing world-leading science, with much of the post-secondary research infrastructure over 25 years old.

21st Century Economic Context

Of the approximately federal science facilities, many are in critical or poor condition and nearing the end of their life expectancy Canada, Commercialization is the process of turning an idea or invention into a product or service that can be sold and grown into a company. Companies scale-up and go global when they grow and export their products or services to markets around the world. Canada has the foundation to be one of the top five most innovative nations in the world.

Canada has excellent economic fundamentals and is one of the strongest economies in the G7.

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Canada led G7 countries in long-term GDP growth over the period, with employment performance since only exceeded by Germany. Between and , total employment rose by , or 1. Most of this growth was in full-time work.


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  8. Canada's unemployment rate fell to a record low of 5. Canada's geography gives it access to the world's most prosperous markets, including through highly efficient transportation linkages and comprehensive trade agreements with the U. Despite this strong foundation, Canada is competing in a global innovation race and cannot afford to be complacent.