Speech Article from  Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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Speaking Points

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, PC, MP
Minister of State (Science and Technology)

Ottawa, Ontario
May 29, 2012

Check Against Delivery

Thank you for the kind introduction.

I'd also like to thank everyone at Mitacs for the invitation. Through Globalink, your organization is showcasing Canada as a premier academic destination to talented undergraduate students from around the world. Needless to say, our government shares your vision. We too are working hard to ensure that Canada attracts the brightest minds through investments in world-class research and infrastructure and by commercializing promising ideas.

As Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), I was pleased to announce an investment of more than $1 million in the expansion of Globalink in July 2010. That investment was part of an $11-million commitment from FedDev to Mitacs. That commitment was in addition to $67.5 million in previous federal investment in Mitacs programs. And now the Government of Canada has committed$14 million in new funding in Budget 2012.

This investment in Globalink helped to bring 59 of the top third-year undergraduate students from India to southern Ontario for research internships, technology training and exposure to the region's leading industrial innovators.

This summer, thanks to Globalink, Canada will welcome students from not only India but also China, Mexico and Brazil.

I should mention that I was in Brazil last month, accompanying the Governor General of Canada on an official state visit. Our delegation, which included Dr. Arvind Gupta, was able to facilitate several collaborative research partnerships between Brazilian and Canadian universities and funding organizations—including new partnerships through Mitacs Globalink.

Ladies and gentlemen, such missions reinforce collaboration between governments, academics and business people, which creates linkages that enhance Canada's competitive advantage.

Our government understands that Canada's long-term economic competitiveness depends on supporting business-related research and development (R&D) that drives innovation.

With Economic Action Plan 2012, we have continued to take the necessary steps to ensure that we're supporting both basic and market-driven research. Since March, I've had the opportunity to speak with stakeholders about some of the innovation measures found in the budget.

From those conversations, it is clear that competition for the brightest minds remains fierce. The pace of technological change is lightning-quick, and it is happening in both developed and emerging economies.

Beyond our borders, the global economy remains tentative and any potential setbacks would have an impact on Canada.

Canadian businesses face ever-increasing competition from emerging countries as well as new realities associated with an aging population.

Fortunately, Canada is facing these challenges from a well-established position upon which we can build.

With a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda that will deliver high-quality jobs, economic growth and sound public finances, our government's Economic Action Plan will allow Canada to overcome future adversity and emerge stronger than ever.

It builds on our positive record of achievement. The budget measures will help further unleash the potential of Canadian researchers, businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in the modern economy for the benefit of all Canadians.

Conferences like this one focus on long-term goals, and, in much the same way, our government is targeting its innovation measures on long-term priorities like high-quality jobs and prosperity.

By focusing on the drivers of growth and job creation—innovation, investment, education, skills and communities—the new measures in Economic Action Plan 2012 will solidify, strengthen and draw upon the entrepreneurial sector's role as the driving force behind Canada's economy.

Canada's researchers, business leaders and entrepreneurs have proven time and again that they are up to the task if given the opportunity.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, with the Economic Action Plan, our government is ensuring that they will have all the opportunity they need to flourish.

For starters, this includes a new approach to supporting world-class research as well as our entrepreneurs and innovators.

Our country strongly supports post-secondary research and places great emphasis on developing a highly skilled workforce. These priorities are crucial to maintaining the strong fundamentals for innovation.

The federal government provides significant resources to support research, development and technology.

In fact, Canada tops the G7 for its higher-education expenditures on R&D measured as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

While we are proud of this ranking, we know that results matter.

Canada continues to lag peer nations in terms of overall innovation performance, including private sector investment in R&D. We also need to improve our ability to commercialize research into products and processes that create high-value jobs and economic growth.

Our government realizes that the results of these policy measures need improvement and is taking steps to address these challenges.

First, we set up an expert panel, chaired by OpenText's executive chair Tom Jenkins. The panel was asked to determine how we could improve and optimize our incentives to turn around this lagging performance.

And now we are responding to the panel's recommendations in a way that will create high-value jobs through investments in:

  • direct support for business innovation;
  • financing opportunities for businesses with the potential to become globally competitive; and
  • linkages between public research and market needs.

Among other things, the Action Plan will double support to companies through National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program.

It will refocus the National Research Council on demand-driven business-oriented research that will help Canadian businesses develop innovative products and services.

It will promote innovation through procurement by connecting Canadian companies with federal departments and agencies to build their capacity to compete in the global marketplace.

It will help high-growth firms access risk capital by committing $400 million to leverage increased private sector investments in early-stage risk capital and to support large-scale, privately managed venture capital funds.

It will advance private and public research collaboration through additional internships for graduate students with $14 million in funding over two years for Mitacs and by providing permanent funding for the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program.

It will streamline the Scientific Research and Experimental Development—or SR&ED—tax incentive program and invest the savings in direct support programs that reinforce business innovation in Canada.

Our government is also building on earlier investments by proposing significant resources for advanced research and leading-edge infrastructure.

Furthermore, our action plan will enhance granting council programs for research partnerships between industry and academia. Our plan will also provide new funding to research human health and genomics technology through Genome Canada.

It will link Canadian researchers to the world through the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

And it will enhance support for leading-edge research infrastructure through investments in the Canada Foundation for Innovation and CANARIE, Canada's ultra-high-speed research network, among others.

But, to effectively compete and succeed globally, Canadian job creators need more than bright ideas.

They must be reinforced by a modern regulatory environment that promotes competition, business investment and economic growth.

This implies a competitive and efficient tax system, a well-functioning financial system and access to international markets. That is why this year's Economic Action Plan includes key commitments in all of these areas, which will improve conditions for business investment and drive the next wave of job creation.

The budget also recognizes that, in uncertain times, living within our means is just as important as creating jobs.

In keeping with this fiscal discipline, we are implementing moderate restraint in government spending.

The savings from this federal review of expenditures amounts to less than 2 percent of expected federal program spending in 2016–17.

Although this was a comprehensive review of departmental spending, it was by no means an across-the-board cuts exercise.

We will ensure continued and growing funding for the programs and services that are a priority for Canadians. Economic Action Plan 2012 makes a wide range of important investments in business innovation that bear witness to this commitment.

These actions will yield real dividends for Canadians. They will steer Canada back toward balanced budgets at an appropriate pace as the economy continues to recover from the global economic crisis.

And three years after the stimulus phase of Canada's Economic Action Plan was launched in response to that crisis, it is clear that our economic recovery is advancing.

There is renewed strength in our exports, and our domestic economy is continuing to grow. Since July 2009, employment has increased by more than 750,000 jobs and is now 320,000 above its pre-recession peak—the strongest job growth among G7 countries during the recovery and the largest back-to-back gain in the number of jobs in 30 years.

So clearly our prospects are shining brightly. And we know that securing long-term prosperity for Canadians in uncertain times means that we must act today.

With Economic Action Plan 2012, we have done so decisively, creating long-term opportunities for jobs and growth in Canada.

All of these measures are aimed at creating the conditions necessary for a sustainable, competitive innovation system. These conditions include supportive regulatory and marketplace frameworks, engaged citizens, a highly skilled workforce, world-class research and leading-edge infrastructure.

Canada can be a world leader in research and innovation. To do this, we need to encourage risk taking, competitive spirit, creative thinking and bold approaches to challenges.

I wish you all a productive conference. I look forward to hearing about the discussions and outcomes of this gathering. Thank you.

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