Innovation is the puzzle at the heart of the knowledge economy. Unlock its secrets, and innovation will drive productivity and, in time, standards of living. Yet it remains a conundrum for many small open economies. In Canada, productivity has been stubbornly flat: in 2015, it stood almost exactly where it was 30 years earlier in 1985 — leading to a preoccupation with policies that stimulate innovation.
In the coming weeks, a series of essays will marshall new thinking on innovation, and bring together a community of scholars and practitioners who offer fresh approaches for Canada and for the global economic cooperation system.
The essays explore three distinct themes. The first theme is the role that international trade plays in stimulating innovation — a central argument being that as the centre of gravity shifts from goods and services to ideas, the way countries negotiate trade deals must also change. The second theme is the role of domestic policy, with an emphasis on the impact of patent regimes and intellectual property strategies on competitiveness. The third theme is how global processes led by, for example, the World Trade Organization and the Group of Twenty, might foster a climate in which the innovation strategies of smaller countries might be accommodated.
At CIGI, we hope the ideas contained in this first set of essays stimulate a discussion, at home and abroad, on how the engine of prosperity in the twenty-first century — innovation — can best be stimulated to serve the widest set of needs possible.