Canada Lacking in Technology Research

May 11th, 2009 by

By Pat Hinds

A recent article on speaks to a report by the Science, Technology and Innovation Research Council about Canadian innovation performance in regards to fifty international and domestic standards. The report, Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation System: State of the Nation 2008, found that Canada was improving, but other countries are improving faster. When I read the article I was not surprised by some of the findings:

  • Fewer Canadian students, compared with students in other countries, are completing master’s and doctoral degrees in science, engineering and business, and Canada is failing to attract top international students.
  • A significant portion of the population has low literacy and numeracy skills and that has changed little in the past decade.
  • Collaboration among Canadian companies is relatively low and collaboration between companies and researchers at public research institutions such as universities, colleges and government laboratories is low as well.
  • Venture capital is “frail.”
  • Canada’s best researchers lack international visibility and recognition.

I have been selling technology solutions to the Oil and Gas industry for over a decade; the industry in general is slow to adopt new technologies. I was at a trade show a couple of weeks ago with a start-up technology company; they offer a strong value proposition that can improve production and reduce labour costs for the companies that have natural gas production in Northern BC and the Alberta foothills. I was speaking with an operator from Northern BC explaining how we could reduce his company’s site visits by leveraging this technology; he made a comment that epitomizes the slow adoption of new technology in the energy sector when he said, “I would rather send a guy out to site every 90 days than change existing equipment that is operational.”

If you look at the Canadian economy, 28% of the GDP is from Industry that includes oil & gas, mining and power. These industries are not adopters of “new technology” – they rely on production volumes to drive revenue; as a result they default to proven/mature technologies that provide a predictable return on investment. If companies that represent 28% of the Canadian GDPare not adopters of new technology this will have a negative impact on Canadian innovation and performance. As per the report, Canadian companies need to enhance business research and development; in the case of the start-up I was with working with, oil & gas companies need to find the resources to support Canadian companies. It is time for Canadian companies to take a leadership position in supporting Canadian technology companies and making Canada more competitive in the global market.

Topics: Sales Consulting