Canadian Federal Budget has been announced and there are hardly any surprises in it. It attempts to support Canada’s economic recovery while trying to bring the deficit under control. In 2009, Canada followed the footsteps of the USA and pumped money into infrastructure projects. In 2010, the government takes a more sustainable approach and announces “cash for ‘practical’ research.” There are a few noteworthy observations:
1) Research and development is one of the few areas where spending has increased over last year while most other areas remained the same or reduced,
2) There is an emphasis on health and applied research in it,
3) Manufacturing, aerospace, forestry and nuclear industries receive good sums of cash.
The biggest winners of the new focus on innovation will be Canadian colleges and universities, which will have access to new resources to commercialize their research. This is a boost to the technology transfer offices in universities, whose mandate is to find practical fields for new inventions. The additional challenge is that the government will want to show results for its investment and is likely to put time pressures to achieve its own goals before the next election. In addition, the caveat on the “practicality” of research will probably cast a shadow on basic researchers, who may not be bothered by the potential applications of their inventions.
Regardless, in my opinion, the Canadian Federal Budget’s investment on innovation is the right step to help productivity and creativity in Canada. The industries selected for support are those Canada has a strong presence and is likely to succeed in the coming years and decades. Now, it is time to take ideas and commercialize them to help the recovery through new products, which capture markets. This will lead to manufacturing, marketing & sales, and service jobs that are desperately needed across the country.
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