May 24, 2013
Note: Through the research she conducted for her PhD dissertation, Nicola Hepburn made some key discoveries about innovation in Ontario. This is the third post in a four-part series that she wrote based on her findings. For further information, read the first post, second post and third post.
The creation of Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) in 2005 signalled that the provincial government had prioritized an agenda of research and innovation.
MRI’s mandate sought to:
Overall, this agenda represented a commitment to build an economy where innovation is a driver of regional economic growth.
In conducting research for my PhD dissertation, I interviewed academic and industry leaders in Ontario. On the whole, they agreed that the creation of MRI as a stand-alone ministry was a welcome structural change that heralded a new focus on—and investment in—research and innovation.
Since 2005, many economic and political developments have significantly impacted this agenda. These events have included a global recession, the election of a minority provincial government, the merger of MRI with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, and, more recently, the reinstatement of MRI as a stand-alone ministry. Nevertheless, my interviewees asserted that although Ontario has entered an era of fiscal constraint and uncertainty, policy inertia is not a viable option. To them, a resolute effort to establish a creative and coherent innovation policy is critical if Ontario is to truly realize its economic goals.
To achieve a robust research and innovation ecosystem, I think a number of advancements are imperative.
Appropriate evaluative measures must be established to continually monitor Ontario’s research and innovation progress.