CANADA & innovation

Suburban Cities

The Erring Past: Places of low social functioning

In the World of Innovation, South Korea is king and Canada barely brakes the Top 20. Too bad this isn’t an international hockey competition! 

Bloomberg News “Fifty Most Innovative Economies” admits a bias towards places where, “the comparative advantage is still relatively cheap labor” rather than cutting-edge innovation. One has to beware of these ‘sweat shop’ visions of Dystopia. Where is the happiness index in countries where Big Brother is still watching?

Still, the neighbour to the north—Kim Jong-un—is one reason people are not flocking to South Korea in search of a better life. Other Canadian competitive advantages include:

  • Flexibility in job placement;
  • Universal Health Insurance
  • Modern highway system
  • Ease of entrepreneurial start-ups;
  • Religious tolerance;
  • Social mobility;
  • (Small-L) liberal values, and
  • Multiculturalism.

The price of real estate in Vancouver and Toronto notwithstanding, what about Canada? What course of action might elevate its ranking  along with the sagging national currency?

The break-up of OPEC could not have come at a better time for Canada. Just one month after a new federal regime took power in Ottawa the cattle-prod effect of the bottom falling out of the oil and gas market gives the new Liberal government all the incentive necessary for dismantling the pet project of the ancien regime. Pivot away from oil and gas to embark on… what?

Not all news is bad out of Canada. Despite its gory record in the once-lucrative energy field, the nation is a global leader in renewable energy. Bloomberg’s Innovation Index points squarely at “value added” ventures. Lagging in the Canadian economy are fundamentals like: food production, and refining products rather than shipping resources raw. Added value means added Canadian GDP and more jobs. Thus, Canada enjoys a gigantic advantage for innovating with production and manufacturing in a tech and fuel rich environment. Value-added in Canada should mean pushing the envelope to produce:

  • Electrical vehicles and components;
  • Space exploration vehicles and components;
  • Hi-tech transit vehicles and components;
  • Cutting-edge, hi-efficiency entry-level homes;
  • World class education and medical care;
  • Sustainable urbanism in hi-functioning mixed societies.

These opportunities have Canadian-red maple leafs painted all over them.

But the memo has not been read beyond the hydro-electric generating community. Bombardier has entered penny-stock territory. Canadian cities and suburban centers have turned away from building green, walkable communities and livable streets. And our big corporations are raping the land and shipping raw.

We must re-discover the lost balance between planning for what promises to be a burgeoning wave of new electric vehicles and the need for communities to live in harmony with their incredible natural surroundings. Our multiculturalism paves the way to compete for global leadership in any number of areas of expertise.

Germany, Sweden, Japan and Switzerland rounded out the top five in the 2016 Bloomberg Innovation Index. Yet, the sweet-spot may well at the 9 & 10 spots held by Denmark and France. With the right mix of innovation and persistence Canada can cozy up to number 11 or 12 position.

Add a happiness index to Bloomberg’s table and see the matrix shift dramatically.

The World's Most Innovative Economies - Bloomberg Business copy


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