Growth, innovation and the organization of science policy in Canada

Robert Asselin – Senior Vice President, Policy, Business Council of Canada

Scientific progress is, has been and — even more so — will continue to be a key economic determinant of our future. A defining feature of modern economic growth is the systematic application of science to advance technology. Put simply, translating intellectual capital and ideas into economic output and growth will be a key determinant in how nations succeed in the modern economy. Policymakers need to acknowledge that scientific knowledge and science-based institutions are more than just public goods; they are essential economic enablers in a world of increased geopolitical competition.

Consequently, the ways we do science — how we empower our best scientists and researchers to do frontier work on the most pressing challenges we face, and how we facilitate that knowledge transfer in the real economy — must become central to how we conceptualize our growth potential as a country.

"It is crucial that Canada shift its underlying policies to better support technological development and progress if we are to compete in the new highly valuable and highly competitive areas of growth and productivity."

This requires new thinking about how we conduct our industrial policy and what kinds of institutions we need to achieve it. Above all, it requires us to build absorptive capacity to ensure research translates into economic benefits.