John McDougall, president of the National Research Council Canada began his presentation with his Hierarchy of Economies. Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, John suggested innovation is critically important to get beyond the bottom line of survival. He also touched on our declining productivity, something most of us have been aware of for a long time. John led us through some rather dry statistics in an effort to set the stage and what it boiled down to was, while we do spend money in Canada on R&D, Canadian businesses seem to be reluctant innovators or investors in R&D.
As the head of NRC, John gave us an overview of the organization and how it’s changing. They really want to become Canada’s engine for industrial innovation. NRC is trying to position themselves in that sweet spot between the market need and the technologies that satisfy those needs. It was comforting to know that they recognize there is a real need for technology expertise that focuses on market application. I was also pleased to hear there is recognition that market and managerial knowledge are just as critical as innovation or R&D. After all, if you can’t sell the innovations or the R&D then that’s a problem. How many times do those innovations get lost in that death valley and don’t get commercialized? Speaking of commercialization I did not hear that word in Mr. McDougall’s entire presentation, I am not sure if that was deliberate or if it was disguised.
I enjoyed John’s presentation. NRC has its industrial research assistance program (IRAP) that targets new technology innovations in companies. They also supported GPRC and the region last year with the Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program to better understand how digital technologies could improve business operations and productivity.
As an innovator, there are resources from the National Research Council Canada, the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, just to note a few. If you are toying with a new idea, give the CRI a call.
Written on behalf of GPRC CRI: This is the second in a series of posts by Janet highlighting her insights on the 2014 Growing the North Conference speakers.