Canada’s Expertise in Innovation
Innovators share … traits we are all born with—curiosity, courage, creativity, and a collaborative spirit—combined with an intense focus on discovering the truth. But discovery is only part of the equation. Equally important is using innovations wisely, for the betterment of everyone. ~ Neil Turok, Director, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Canada has long been a world-class innovator in scientific research and innovation, but as modesty and self-deprecation are also notable characteristics of the Canadian character, we haven’t received nearly the accolades we deserve. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our national contributions (past, present and ongoing) to scientific and technological progress. The evidence may surprise you, and give you cause for celebration. It may even convince a few recent graduates to stay here rather than emigrate to other locales that are mistakenly perceived to be more receptive to research, development and commerce.
Here are just a few notable products, services and technologies that began in Canada:
- the invention of the telephone
- the discovery of insulin
- the light bulb
- the artificial pacemaker
- the zipper
- the electron microscope
- radio voice transmission
- the BlackBerry
- cobalt-60 cancer treatment
- the Canadarm
We could list literally hundreds more, such as the birch-bark canoe, the Wonderbra, and basketball – as well as hockey and baseball – we have a playful side to us too.
Thankfully our inventiveness and expertise continue to the present day, and we are powerfully positioned to add to our record of achievements. Much of our creativity has to do with our abundance of well-educated and highly motivated individuals. Canada, as it turns out, has a stellar record when it comes to turning out graduates who go on to make a difference. Consider these statistics regarding Canada’s wide range of expertise (source Government of Canada website):
- We are #1 in the G-7 for higher-education sector R&D performance.
- The availability of qualified engineers in the labour force in Canada is greater than in any other G7 country.
- Entrepreneurs make up 17% of our labour force.
In the areas of business and commerce, Canadians have done an exceptional job of developing world-class enterprises and solutions. We will list only a few:
- Shopify – the leader in e-commerce solutions for small to mid-size businesses
- CCL Industries – the world’s largest producer of pressure sensitive and specialty extruded film materials for labelling, packaging and display
- Magna International – automotive parts maker for Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, GM and many more
- Alimentation Couche-Tard – the hidden gem of convenience retailing, with more than 15,000 locations world-wide
- BlackBerry – the clear leader in automotive software with their QNX offering, now present in more than 50 million vehicles
The demand for Canadian talent has never been greater, and the opportunities to bring Canadian innovation and business thinking to the world are limitless. Decades ago it was said “the 20th century belongs to Canada.” In our view, the 21st century is when Canada will truly come into its own: our innovators, leaders and achievers will not only strengthen our economy, but also our national pride.