10 takeaways from Conference Board innovation summit

Photo of OCE Admin February 28, 2013 by OCE Admin

About 300 Canadian international innovation leaders, decision-makers and experts gathered in Toronto recently for a two-day conference, sponsored by Ontario Centres of Excellence, to hear some of the latest research findings on innovation and share insights about Canada’s track record on commercialization.

Here are some takeaways from the Conference Board of Canada’s Business Innovation Summit 2013 - Innovation for the Corporation:

  • Canada should not expect to see improvement in its international ranking on innovation, according to Daniel Muzyka, President and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada. The Board’s annual report, which is expected to be released soon, has historically handed Canada a D grade on innovation. “Our innovation ecosystem is not delivering for Canada and Canadians,” he said.
  • Cost-cutting and efficiency as a means of getting through tough economic times will not promote productivity and growth but are more likely to render an organization obsolete. 
  • Canada is very good at creating ideas and exporting ideas. Other countries are better at capitalizing on them.
  • Companies need to more effectively manage innovation, partly by establishing metrics to measure progress against objectives. And those that do see better results. (An alternative view is that ‘managing innovation’ is an oxymoron and it’s better to think in terms of ‘harnessing' or 'taming’ innovation).   
  • Counting patents and publications as a measure of innovation is insufficient.
  • Big data is a big deal for businesses, especially those with global ambitions. The five Vs of big data are velocity, volume, variety, veracity and vulnerability. Protecting the privacy and integrity of data is essential. 
  • ‘Fear of failure’ and a sense that ‘good is good enough’ are culturally ingrained attitudes that get in the way of innovation in Canada. We need to find ways to awaken our curiosity and take a little more risk.
  • Canada has a high rate of new businesses, about 25 per cent higher than in the U.S. But, says Terry Stuart, Chief Innovation Officer at Deloitte, these ‘gazelles’ too often become ‘water buffaloes.’ We need to do more to ensure our businesses don’t lose growth and innovation momentum over time. 
  • Most people get promoted for reasons unrelated to being innovative. Industry needs to find a balance between keeping businesses going and rewarding innovation. Companies need both good business managers and those who aren’t afraid to take risks. 
  • Industry-academic partnerships create experiential learning opportunities for today’s students who are vocal in their desire to acquire entrepreneurial skills and exposure to real-world business challenges.

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