Friday 4 September 2015

Article 1

Innovate More: North America’s New Development Mantra

Ravi S Jha
Senior Public Policy Administrator, Toronto, Canada

China and India are moving towards an innovation tipping; there is a widespread concern in North America (Canada and US) that at some point in their development trajectory, both these countries will have more innovative enterprises. While Indian and Chinese undertakings along with its con-sumers are becoming increasingly cultivated, their phenomenal size and ever-growing numbers are becoming important adjudicators of trends around the world.

However, it is not surprising that for the United States and Canada to maintain and augment its high standard of living, the respective federal governments should work towards ensuring that the North American economy be innovation-driven. One way of ensuring this is making the various levels of policy makers understand the need to invest more time and money to promote and encourage innovation.

Compared to India and China, Canada has a small population, and there is a compelling need to work at diversifying and upsizing markets. Relying solely on a domestic economy to dispense support necessary for invention can have devastating consequences for economy. Therefore it is crucial for North America to remodel its public policy agenda to increase the emphasis laid on innovation. In Canada, for instance, the federal authorities have long developed policies to drive invention. In-novation has not been on the priority. Going by the typical school book postulation, the two are not the same, and the governments must recognise this to achieve an effective public policy. 

Innovations are largely built from inventions, but innovation in products, services, and processes is an essential instrument that will drive prosperity and competitiveness. Canada’s government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the US President Barack Obama have together resolved to focus on policies for pulling more ideas and research in support of innovation. Global-level initiatives like The Innovation Policy Platform and iNNOVATION -Canada Alliance are also advocating the need for governments to focus on innovation policy making.

One has to look back at Steve Jobs’ stunning career, and how Apple, the world’s largest publicly traded corporation, derived success through innovation, and not solely based on invention. Apple did unproven things. Innovation in syncing the iPod with iTunes, forging to connect iPhone with Apple Watch and then with App Store, creating iPad and thinnest Macbook Air and seeking devel-opers to work on nearly 2 million applications. Apple never analysed and benchmarked the success and in no way was aware that such innovative products would completely change the way people communicate in the modern world.

If that is what is required for innovation to be recognised, then North American governments need to implement more policies in support of innovation; and support Enterprises like Apple that will practice innovation as the key to prosperity. There has to be public policies supporting innovation that can increase the odds of achieving full economic potential.

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