Canadians have been concerned for decades about their country’s level of research and development activity, which is presumably related to productivity and living standards. However, recent major national studies and policy efforts related to R&D have focused almost exclusively on business performance of R&D. As policy-makers in the US and other major innovator countries recognize, public institutions such as national laboratories are an integral part of national science and technology performance, as they concentrate many diverse researchers together, offer training opportunities for highly qualified personnel in many fields, and can supply R&D facilities and services that may not be offered by private institutions, regardless of incentives. Policy efforts must look at the full ecosystem of public, academic and private institutions to have a complete picture of national science and technology performance.
This article is featured in the September issue of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)’s Policy Options magazine. This month’s focus is on innovation.