THECIS Fellows

THECIS has established a network of experts, called THECIS Fellows, to support the work of the Centre. Current members:

Senior Fellow, Chad Saunders, MBA, Ph.D.

Chad is an Associate Professor at the Haskayne School of Business in the area of Management Information Systems and holds a cross-appointment with the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Community Health Sciences where he is the Research and Innovation lead with the Health Innovation and Information Technology Centre (HiiTeC). Chad’s research interests focus on the impact of information technology on professional practice. In particular, this work considers the implications for design and innovation within a professional environment and the key entrepreneurial activities associated with the use of technology within the professional contexts. His professional experience includes technology benchmarking, commercialization and the strategic deployment of technology to support collaborative research. Chad has published in leading journals including Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Journal of Business Venturing, IEEE TRansactions on Software Engineering and the Ivey Business Journal.

Adam Holbrook, P. Eng.

Adam is an adjunct professor and Associate Director at the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST), at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. Before joining CPROST in 1995 he was a career civil servant in the federal government of Canada involved in S&T policy issues at the Treasury Board Secretariat and Industry Canada. At CPROST his research activities have centered on the analysis of science, technology and innovative activities in both the public sector and the private sector. He is the leader of a network of researchers in innovation studies in western Canada, and recently edited a book on regional innovation systems in Canada – “Innovation, Institutions and Territory: Regional Innovation Systems in Canada” .

 

Alex Bruton, PhD, P.Eng. MBA

Entrepreneur and educator with 14 years of experience and a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. Loves teaching and public speaking, and has presented to audiences ranging in size from five to 500 people on over 40 occasions in six countries. Currently leads the development of a university program that provides an entrepreneurial training ground and launch pad for creative 17-30 year old entrepreneurs in all disciplines, and was Vice President at a technology start-up. Brings excellent leadership and people-skills, a strong technical background and experience that includes: strategy development; business model design; business and product planning; facilitation; marketing research; and industry and competitive analyses. Has published 21 papers in the public domain and 19 proprietary technical, concept-of-operations and business reports. Has had his research supported by NSERC on three occasions and by other awards on nine occasions. Co-founded the Innovation Department for a Canadian advanced technology company, has experience in product and project management, and has recruited and developed early-stage teams. Has won and been nominated for several awards for best and most innovative teaching. Recently gave an invited talk at Google Waterloo on “Creating Really Big Value” through entrepreneurship education (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX2Zht4GJ1c).

 

Amanda Williams, Ph.D.

Dr. Amanda Williams is an Adjunct Associate Professor for the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies in Calgary, Alberta. She teaches theory, research methods, and media history. Her previous and current research projects include topics such as the role of metaphor in broadband policy, Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOCs), discourses of sustainability and the Alberta Oil Sands, entrepreneurship, and student identity. Her refereed publications have appeared in Journalism, the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, the International Electronic Journal for Leadership in Learning and the Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning. She also has professional experience as an employee of the federal government and with the United Nations in policy/strategic communication roles.

 

Anita Arduini, B.Sc., Ph.D.

Dr. Anita Arduini is currently Director with Portfire Associates, a consulting company to the Energy and Petrochemical industrial sectors.  Previously, she worked as Program Director with CMC Research Institutes (Carbon Management Canada) and as the Executive Director Research for the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary.

She has held numerous industry positions spanning a 25 year period including Technology Business Development Manager at NOVA Chemicals Corporation, Research Scientist at Canadian Fracmaster and Development Specialist at Union Carbide Canada.

She has been a Member of the Advisory Board of the National Research Council, Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology and a Member of the Review Committee of the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, Industry Funding Programs.   She is currently a member of the Chemical Institute of Canada, the American Chemical Society and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.  She received a B.Sc. (Honours Chemistry) from the University of British Columbia and a PhD (Inorganic Chemistry) from the University of Alberta.

 

Arvid Hardin, B.Sc., Ph.D.

Arvid is Principal of Hardin Associates Technology Management, a privately held business providing international management consulting services, economic and investment development, business strategy development, technology strategy and management.  Before that he worked in senior positions in the international petrochemical and energy industries, and in government agencies. Previously he was Assistant Director, Energy R&D, for the Canadian national Energy Program

 

Bob Este,

Bob is founder and CEO of Vector RDI Ltd., a research, development, and innovation consultancy based in Alberta, Canada. He holds an earned Ph.D from the University of Calgary exploring architectures of innovation and the philosophy of science. Bob serves as a peer reviewer for the journal She Ji < https://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the-journal-of-design-economics-and-innovation/>, is an Approved Service Provider for Tecterra < http://www.tecterra.com >, and also serves on the board of the Guided Autobiography Program out of the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies at the University of Southern California < http://guidedautobiography.com >. As co-founding Deputy Director, he established the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics at the University of Calgary as a successful advanced biological research facility. He was also Business Development Officer for the Institute for Space Imaging Science at the University of Calgary, shaping business networks with SMEs and global industry. He negotiated the highest level of funding from CANARIE (Canadian funding agency) for the Canadian “Cyber-SKA” program of the global Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Project, and served as the Canadian global industry engagement strategist for the international SKA Development Program. Bob has served as a successful educator, administrator, manager, strategist and writer for more than 30 years. He has managed and delivered entire university transfer management programs, successfully served as an education authority CEO, and created and taught unique courses in astronomy, robotics and visual language. Bob has enjoyed provincial and national secondments and completed the Aspen Institute’s Executive Leadership Program. He also served in the Faculties of Continuing Education and Engineering at the University of Calgary as an instructor and program and course designer. Bob has authored and presented articles in IEEE and European, Australian and Asian academic, business and military venues. These have addressed the enhancement of critical thinking and conceptual skills in relation to technological innovation and societal change. Bob has published one book on innovation and philosophy, is writing more, and continues independent research in these fields

 

Brian Wixted, B Admin, Grad Dip App Sci., Ph.D.

Brian is a Visiting Fellow with CPROST at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and the founder of Technomics Research. He has degrees in commerce and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Science. During his employment with the Australian Commonwealth Public Service he worked on science, technology and innovation indicators analysis (1989-1995) and agricultural and resources science and innovation policy (1995-2000).  Between 2000 and 2004, Brian was with the AEGIS research centre at the University of Western Sydney, where he was principally responsible for its data analysis of innovation related issues. In 2005 he completed his doctorate, which examined the international linkages between industrial clusters.

 

Bruno Silvestre,  B. Eng., M. Eng., D.Phil

Bruno is an industrial engineer specializing in technology and innovation management, strategy and cluster dynamics. He has more than 10 years of direct managerial experience in the energy sector (including oil and gas and electricity) and other resource based sectors. More recently, he worked for a research park and firm incubator involved in a number of high tech start-up projects. Currently, he is Adjunct Professor and Research Associate with the faculty of Business Administration and the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST) at Simon Fraser University, and Business Development Executive at ELECTROBRAS, the major Brazilian National Electricak Utility.

 

Charles Davis, Ph.D.

Charles is the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Research Chair in Media Management and Entrepreneurship, and Associate Dean, Scholarly Research and Creative Activities, Faculty of Communication & Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. I currently teach and conduct research on innovation management and policy. His research interests have to do with product innovation, media audiences, customer value and experiential consumption of media products, innovation in digital experience goods, and labour and entrepreneurial startups in creative industries.

 

Carlos Freire,

Carlos has a Bachelor of Business Administration Management (Southeaster Oklahoma State University), a M.Sc. in Business Economics and a Doctorate that specializes in economic geography from Aalborg University (Denmark). He has been a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley and spent a semester at the Georgia Institute of Technology. From 2015 to 2019 he was a tenured Associate Professor at University of Guayaquil (Ecuador). He has numerous publications in the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, economic development and governance. In the private sector Carlos has occupied managerial positions, worked as a consultant, created a number of businesses, and co-founded two not-for-profit organizations.  He’s a fellow at the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University. He’s also a sessional instructor at the School of Business at MacEwan University, and the JR Shaw School of Business Macewan University Business School at NAIT.

 

Denzil Doyle, C.M., B.Sc., D.Eng.,F.E.I.C.

Denzil is Chairman of Doyletech Corporation, an Ottawa-based company specializing in providing consulting services to entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, and economic development authorities. Although trained as an engineer, he has spent most of his career in the business world. From 1963 to 1981, he directed the affairs of Digital Equipment Canada, growing it to annual sales in excess of $160 million.

He formed Doyletech Corporation in 1982, and provided services to all provincial and the federal government. In 1982, he also co-founded Instantel Inc. an Ottawa based supplier of electronic instrumentation.

From 1995 to 2005 he served as Chairman of Alliance Capital ventures Inc. an Ottawa based venture capital firm. He is the author of several business articles and books.

In 2005 he was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada.

 

Don MacLean,

Don is an independent consultant based in Ottawa, Canada. His consulting projects typically involve research, analysis and policy development on economic, social and governance issues related to telecommunications, the Internet and ICTs. From 1992-99, he headed the Strategic Planning and External Affairs Unit of the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to joining the ITU, he served in a number of senior policy and planning posts in the former Canadian Department of Communications. Mr. MacLean has a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from McGill University and did graduate studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris) and Princeton.

 

Éric Archambault, D.Phil.

Éric is President of Science-Metrix, a Canadian consultancy that specializes in the measurement and evaluation of science- and technology-related activities. His core function in the company is to analyze and formulate science, technology and innovation policy and strategy. He also teaches quantitative methods (scientometrics and technometrics) to students in the Science, Technology and Society program at the Université du Québec à Montréal and is an associate researcher at the Observatoire des sciences et des technologies as well as at the Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie. He has research expertise in the following areas: health science and technology, information and communication technology, energy and transport.

 

Geoff Gregson, LLM, MBA, Ph.D.

Geoff  is a Research Fellow with The Centre for Innovation Studies (THECIS).  He holds a senior consultancy appointment with Alberta Health Services and an adjunct professorship with the University of Alberta.  His research covers entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, SME growth, innovation strategy, systems and policy and equity risk capital. Geoff has started up four new ventures and is a co-founder and current Chairman of Axienta, Ltd., a global enterprise mobility firm.  he is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Alberta and University of Calgary.

 

Ian McCarthy, B.Eng., M.Sc., Ph.D.

Ian is currently Canada Research Chair in Management of Technology at the Faculty of Business, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. His academic career began in engineering where he researched and taught engineering management and operations systems design. Since completing his PhD he has concentrated on  understanding the various operational and technological configurations (practices, processes and structures) that exists in different types of industrial organizations. This has included research on managing operational complexity, mass customization, decision making in new product development, and strategies for drug discovery.

 

Gordon A. Gow,  Ph.D.

Gordon is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.   From 2003-2006 he was a Lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political, where he was Director of the Graduate Programme in Media and Communications Regulation and Policy.  Gordon’s research looks at the development of electronic communications networks from a combined social and technical perspective, with the aim of promoting innovation through expanded public understanding of and participation in policymaking.  His primary focus is with the long term planning and management of critical infrastructure systems, especially those that support public alerting and emergency management activities.  He is currently involved in the development and testing of an all-hazards warning system in Sri Lanka, in addition to having published reports for the Canadian government on tsunami warning and emergency communications.  His wider research interests include innovation in mobile voice and data systems, especially with respect to regulatory concerns such as spectrum policy and management, telecom reform, technical standardization, and public safety.

 

Jacek Warda, M.A. Economics, D.P.A.

Since 2003 Jacek has been President and Founder of JPW Innovation Associates Inc, a research and advisory practice specializing in science and technology policy. He is a internationally recognized expert on the R&D tax treatment and consultant to the OECD. His expertise also includes benchmarking of innovation systems and evaluating collaboration of the private sector with universities and government research laboratories. He is a former Principal Research Associate with the Innovation and Technology program and Manager, Innovation Council at The Conference Board of Canada. He resides in Ottawa.

 

Jerry Lemmon, B.Sc., P.Biol.P.Ag.

Jerry is the President of Razorquest inc., consulting to organizations focused on growth and increasing their position in today’s competitive marketplace. Razorquest services include investor readiness, growth strategy, executive mentorship and organizational transformation.  Mr. Lemmon has a diversified background, consulting to corporations on executive management and corporate leadership as a Director at the Banff Centre for Management. He has also held the position of Director, Advanced Technology Centre for The University College of the Cariboo where his main focus was business incubation, and evaluating technology and its commercial viability.  Prior to accepting his role at The Banff Centre, Mr. Lemmon was a Marketing Manager with Monsanto Canada Inc.  Mr. Lemmon is also a Fellow with THECIS (The Centre for Innovation Studies), where he contributes regularly to the advancement of innovation and technology commercialization in Alberta.

 

Lloyd Steier,

Lloyd is a professor in Strategic Management & Organization at the University of Alberta School of Business. He is also Academic Director for the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise. His research interests include new venture creation, technology commercialization, venture capital finance and family enterprise.

 

Marc Godin, P.Eng., MBA.

Marc has 25 years of technical and business development experience in the chemicals and energy industries and consults for corporate and government clients.

 

Michael Lounsbury, Ph.D.

Michael  is Associate Professor in the School of Business at the University of Alberta. Professor Lounsbury’s research has a general focus on the relationship between organizational and institutional change, technological and entrepreneurial dynamics, and the emergence of new industries and practices.  He studies topics such as technology, entrepreneurship and professionalism in varied contexts such as the fields of technology transfer, solid waste, and finance.  As a research officer at the Canadian National Institute for Nanotechnology, he is currently investigating the co-evolution of nanoscience and nanotechnology.  Professor Lounsbury serves on a number of editorial boards and his work has been published in top tier peer-reviewed journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, and Organization Studies. In addition, he is the series editor of Research in the Sociology of Organizations published by JAI/Elsevier and co-executive editor of Journal of Management Inquiry published by Sage.  At the University of Alberta, he is the Coordinator of the Technology Commercialization Specialization and Director of the Technology Commercialization Centre (TCC).

 

Murray Wolfe, B.Comm., C.A.

Murray is Director of Internal Audit at Fortis Alberta. He specializes in the design and implementation of effective risk, internal control and governance practices.

 

Peter Josty, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Peter has more than 25 years industrial experience in research, marketing, technical management, new application development, new business development and strategic planning.  He is Executive Director of THECIS.

 

Peter W.B. Phillips, Ph.D.

Peter is a Professor and NSERC/SSHRC Chair in managing Knowledge-based Agri-food Development at the University of Saskatchewan. His research concentrates on intellectual property management for agricultural biotechnology, trade and marketing issues relating to GM foods and development strategies. He is also Director of the U. of S. College of Biotechnology, a member of the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee, senior research associate with the Estey Centre for Law and Economics in International Trade and co-principle investigator for Genome Prairie’s $3.3 million, 4 -year Genomics, Ethics, law and Society Project.

 

Richard Hawkins, BA, MA (Simon Fraser), D.Phil. (Sussex)

Richard is a political economist specializing in science, technology and innovation policy and strategy. Currently he is Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Science and Technology Policy in the Science, Technology and Society and Society at the University of Calgary. Prior to this, he was Leader of the Network Economy Programme and later Senior Advisor to the Science, Technology and Innovation Programme at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO, one of Europe’s largest contract research laboratories. Previous to this, he was Senior Fellow in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex. Before turning his attention to academic and applied research activities he was active professionally in the international music industry.

 

Rob Beamish,

Rob is currently the founder and President od Ellipsis Ventures, a management consulting firm that specializes in technology commercialization in the ICT, CleanTech and healthcare sectors. As part of his practice, Rob holds the position of Director of the EnviroTech Solutions program at ClimateChange Central.

Rob’s passion for entrepreneurship and developing new business is evident in his previous roles. In addition to founding Ellipsis Ventures and Stratavera Partners, he is also helping to start a few early stage technology firms. In the past, Rob has served as Vice-President, Operations with Calgary Technologies inc. and has worked with TransCanada in various technology development roles.
Rob is a Professional Engineer with a civil engineering degree and an MBA from Queens University as well as a Masters in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary.

 

Scott Tiffin, Ph.D. 

Scott is an expert on the management of innovation and entrepreneurship in clusters and strategy for knowledge-based organizations working in international markets. He has experience with consulting, university research and teaching, postdoctoral mentoring, international research consortia, government policy and the setting up of entrepreneurial firms, in a variety of settings including Canada, the US, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Originally an engineer, and then with a brief period in environmental science, his doctorate is in technology management and policy, from Université de Montréal.

 

Sylvan Katz, Ph.D.

Sylvan is a consultant in Saskatoon (Katz Competitive Intelligence Ltd.) and a Senior Research Fellow at SPRU, University of Sussex, UK. (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/jskatz) His research focuses on scale-dependent and scale-independent science, technology and innovation indicators, technical competitive intelligence, foresight and self-organizing innovation activities. Currently he is working with a consortium of researchers from four European universities to develop web-based indicators of science, technology and innovation research (http://www.webindicators.org)

 

Tony Briggs, DBA., MBA, MS

Anthony is an Assistant Professor in the Strategic Management and Organization Department at the Alberta School of Business.  Tony holds a Doctor of Business Administration in Information Systems from Boston University’s Graduate School of Management where he studied how some of the world’s top technology entrepreneurs identify and develop breakthrough innovations. Prior to his doctorate, Tony received an M.S. from MIT Sloan, where he researched the impact of patent constraints on innovation, and also assisted in the design of the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the Licensing Executives Society surveys. He also holds an MBA in Finance from University of British Columbia, and a B.Sc. Hons. in Biochemistry from the University of Alberta.

Tony was a patent licensing officer in Canada and the US, most recently at Harvard Medical School, and has consulted with numerous U.S. SBIR grant companies on patent licensing and technology strategy. His research examines how highly novel information is shared and assessed in uncertain environments. He conducts related work on problems of uncertain property rights and patents.


Entrepreneurship is growing in Canada. Is that good? Blog #30

14 June, 2022

Entrepreneurship is growing in Canada. Is that good?

Entrepreneurship is a measure of economic dynamism. Over the last ten years the percentage of the population involved in entrepreneurship in Canada has increased by over 50%, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. In 2021 about 20% of the adult population was involved in planning or starting up a business.

The graph below shows the evolution in Canada since 2013 using the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) database.

TEA (Total early stage entrepreneurship activity) is a combination of two numbers – nascent entrepreneurs, those actively starting up a business and owner managers of a business less than 3.5 years old.

EB (established businesses) are owner managers of a company more than 3.5 year old.

In both cases the numbers refer to the percentage of the adult population (age 18+) engaged.

The TEA rate has crept steadily upwards since 2013, with a dip in 2020 due to COVID, while the EB rate has remained fairly constant.

Statistics Canada data confirms that the number of firms, adjusted for population growth, has remained roughly constant since 2014.

Is this just a Canadian phenomenon?  If you look at the GEM data for several other countries you see exactly the same phenomenon. TEA has risen significantly from 2013 to 2021 – in the UK (by 80%), in France (by 70%), in Germany (by 40%) and in the US (by 30%), that compares with the rise in Canada of 70%.  So this is certainly not a uniquely Canadian situation.

The EB rate in the other countries has also remained fairly constant over the same period.

So what is going on?  The real answer is that at this point we don’t know for sure. There would appear to be several possibilities at least1:

  • More people are involved in each new startup. Might this be because startups are becoming more complex requiring more diversity of skills?
  • There may be more hybrid entrepreneurs – people who work for a large company and work to develop opportunities either for their employer or for themselves.
  • More business consolidations are happening early in the life cycle.

 

Does it matter?  The negatives.

The larger question is: does this really matter?  The hard facts are that from an economy wide perspective, large businesses are much more productive than small business. In Canada 2.4 million people (15.1% of the labour force) work for large companies, and produce 48.1% of the GDP, while 13.7 million people (84.9% of the labour force) work for small and medium sized companies and produce 51.9% of GDP. So, a person working in a large company, on average, produces 5 times as much GDP as a person working in a small or medium sized company.

Do we put too much effort into encouraging entrepreneurs?  Well-known American author Scott Shane thinks so – one of his papers is entitled ”Why encouraging entrepreneurship is bad public policy”. Shane argues that the typical start-up is not innovative, creates few jobs, and generates little wealth.

If entrepreneurship is such a good thing, then why is Canada a laggard in innovation and R&D spending?  [See Blogs 24 and 29]

 

Does it matter?  The positives

However, it has been well established that entrepreneurs and other outsiders are a main vehicle for introducing radical new technologies to the marketplace.  Just think why Tesla is the leader in electric cars rather than GM or Toyota. The current rise in tech startups in Canada is likely a manifestation of this.

Several large sectors of the Canadian economy, such as retail, construction and healthcare, rely on small and medium sized firms, and they make a significant contribution to the overall economy and provide valuable employment.

Also, in a period of economic turbulence, such as we seem to be entering now, having entrepreneurial skills is a valuable attribute, whether in a large company or a startup. The key role of the entrepreneur is to identify opportunities, and then generate the enthusiasm, vision and plans needed to create a successful venture.

 

Conclusion

Although most startups don’t generate much wealth, innovation or jobs, nevertheless some of them do, and this is a key driver of economic growth.

  1. Shane, S. Why encouraging more people to become entrepreneurs is bad public policy. Small Bus Econ 33, 141–149 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-009-9215-5
  2. I am indebted to Marc Duhamel and Étienne St-Jean for helpful discussion on this.

Canada’s new Innovation Agency – Blog #27

18, April 2022

Canada’s new Innovation Agency

The Federal government announced that it will create a “Canada Innovation and Investment Agency” in the 2022 Budget.

This is how it was described:

  • It will proactively work with new and established Canadian industries and businesses to help them make the investments they need to innovate
  • Operationally independent
  • $1 billion over five years to support its initial operations.
  • Modeled on approaches that have been successful in Finland (TEKES) and Israel (Israel Innovation Authority).
  • With private sector leadership and expertise
  • It will also enable innovation and growth within the Canadian defense sector and boost investments in Canadian defense manufacturing.

This initiative has broadly been welcomed by the business community. It is one among a suite of measures in the budget aimed at improving Canada’s dismal performance in innovation, productivity and economic growth. (See Blog 22 and 24.) It also represents a change in thinking from a passive support role (SRED) to a more active investment approach.

A key point is that it is being modeled on approaches in Finland and Israel. What have these approaches been?

First of a couple of caveats:

  • Both Finland and Israel are very small unitary countries (populations of 5.6 million and 9.2 million). Canada is a much larger country with a federal structure.
  • Transferring ideas that work in one place to another place is notoriously difficult (think of the many failed attempts to replicate Silicon Valley).

TEKES

TEKES was founded in 1983 in response to recessions in the 1970s as a funding agency to promote technology development. TEKES merged with the Finnish export promotion agency in 2018 to form Business Finland. It currently has about 750 employees. Finland joined the European Union in 1995.

Business Finland functions as a funding agency for research and technology development as well as export promotion. Receivers of the funding are universities, polytechnics, research institutes such as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the European Space Agency, startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large corporations and public bodies. In enterprise projects, funding is given to transform research-stage ideas into viable businesses, and may combine direct unconditional funding with guaranteed loans conditional on the success of the resulting business. It funds up to 50% of project costs.

In addition to funding, Business Finland provides companies with advice on networking, finding new markets and customers, help with joint offerings and connections with international investors.

Business Finland is well regarded by SME’s in Finland. According to a survey, 38% of SMEs considered this service to be central for their business activity.

Business Finland has some current weaknesses. The Confederation of Finnish Industries says it should focus more on companies with export potential.

In 2021, Business Finland’s R&D funding is estimated to be EUR 740.4 million ($1.01 Billion CDN) that included EUR 200 due to COVID expenses.

Israel Innovation Authority (IIA).

The IIA was founded in 1965 as the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Economy, charged with fostering the development of industrial R&D within Israel. It became the IIA in 2016.  It currently has about 150 employees.

Its mission is to assist the advancement of Israel’s knowledge-based science and technology industries in order to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship while stimulating economic growth.

“The Israel Innovation Authority, an independent publicly funded agency, was thus created to provide a variety of practical tools and funding platforms aimed at effectively addressing the dynamic and changing needs of the local and international innovation ecosystems. This includes early-stage entrepreneurs, mature companies developing new products or manufacturing processes, academic groups seeking to transfer their ideas to the market, global corporations interested in collaborating with Israeli technology, Israeli companies seeking new markets abroad and traditional factories and plants seeking to incorporate innovative and advanced manufacturing into their businesses.”

The Israel Innovation Authority produces a comprehensive annual report: https://innovationisrael.org.il/en/sites/default/files/Israel%20Innovation%20Authority%20-%202021%20Innovation%20Report%20-%20English%2017.6.pdf

In 2019 Israel joined the network of Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), a body set up by the World Economic Forum to share knowledge, experience and best practices related to innovative technologies’ regulation by establishing collaborations between governments, leading corporations, private sector, and experts from around the world. The IIA is the focus.

Annual budget is 1.6 Billion NIS, or about $630 million CDN. It describes itself as “an independent publicly funded agency”

Comparison

TEKES and the IIA have some similarities:

  • They both provide grants and loans to businesses and universities as well as advice.
  • They both operate as “independent publicly funded agencies”. Business Finland is part of the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy; and the Chair of the Board of the IIA is Israel’s Chief Scientist.
  • Both have a strong international focus. Business Finland has 42 offices abroad, and the IIA has an International Collaboration Division.
  • Both have a strong R&D and technology development focus.

But there are also differences:

  • Israel has had an influx of highly skilled immigrants from various countries, including Russia, that is not the case in Finland.
  • A factor affecting Israel’s innovation performance is military spending. Israel spends 5.6% of its GDP on military spending (about four times as much as Canada), and that includes significant R&D that has spillover to the civilian economy.

Conclusion

Whatever form the Innovation Agency takes, it will be one part of a complex innovation ecosystem. To improve innovation performance other aspects of the ecosystem need to be enhanced, in particular the supply of talent and the limited competitiveness in many sectors of the economy. And announced funding for the Agency is significantly less than in Finland or Israel, which are much smaller countries.

Peter Josty


How to get more innovation? Blog #8

12 June, 2017 – Blog #8

How to get more innovation?

In an earlier blog, I asked if we had too much innovation or not enough.  The answer was that some areas had too much and some too little.  Which raises the question what can be done to increase innovation.  In fact, there are quite a number of proven approaches to increasing innovation.  Here is a short list:

  1. Competition. This is one of the effective ways of getting innovation as it uses the ingenuity of large numbers of people who want to make a profit. The economist Willian J. Baumol captures this well in the title of one of his books – “The free market Innovation Machine.”  Baumol goes on to explain that “the prime weapon of competition is not price but innovation.  As a result, firms cannot afford to leave innovation to chance.  Rather, managements are forced by market pressures to support innovative activities systematically and substantially…  The end result is a ferocious arms race among firms in the most rapidly evolving sectors of the economy.”
  2. Prizes. Cash prizes have a long history of stimulating innovation. One of the earliest examples is the Longitude prize, offered by the British government in 1714 to anyone who could determine longitude accurately.  That prize was eventually won by John Harrison, for an accurate clock.  The XPrize is a more recent example, which was set up to bring about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity”.  The XPrize has stimulated numerous other prizes, including one in Alberta run by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) to find commercially viable applications for waste gas.
  3. Military spending. This is a very wasteful way of generating innovations, but it can produce very significant results.  Mariana Mazzucato has shown that many of the technologies in the iPhone were originally developed and used by the US military before being “re-purposed” and incorporated into the iPhone.  The internet is another example, which was originally funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the US.
  4. Government funded megaprojects. There are a few examples of megaprojects that have developed significant innovations. One is the man on the moon project in the 1960’s.  This was a political, not scientific project that occurred at the height of the cold war.  NASA considers Landsat satellite imagery to be a direct result of this megaproject.  However this is a very wasteful way of getting innovations.  Another example might be the Chinese government’s initiative – the Belt and Road project – to spend significant resources to enhance trade across Eurasia.

Because of the magnitude of resources required, this will always be a very minor contribution to overall innovation.

  1. Surprisingly, regulation can sometimes stimulate innovation.  A classic example is the role of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which imposed stringent fuel economy standards for all automobiles sold in California, in 1967.  This led automakers to develop innovations to significantly improve fuel economy, not only for cars sold in California but everywhere else as well.  There have been numerous other similar examples.  Carbon taxes and cap and trade systems are intended to stimulate innovation by the same mechanism.  Nobody wants to pay taxes and people and companies work to reduce emissions and so pay less tax.
  2. Sometimes innovations just happen without any apparent motivation. The “learning by doing”, “experience curve” or “learning curve” effects are based on a series of often very small changes which cumulatively have a powerful effect.  When a routine task is repeated, each cumulative doubling of repetitions typically leads to a reduction of 10-20 % in cost per unit.
  3. New Technology. The classic example of a new technology stimulating innovation in the old technology it aims to replace is the sailing ship. In the 30 years after the introduction of the steam power in the 19th century, sailing technology improved more than it had in the previous 300 years.  This is termed the “Sailing Ship effect”, which has been well documented in numerous other cases.

None of these approaches include current hot topics such as research and development spending, venture capital, crowdfunding, tax credits or other popular ideas.  This is not at all to say that these approached don’t work, but just to remind us that there are many paths to innovation.

 

Peter Josty

p.josty@thecis.ca
403-249-0191
www.thecis.ca