Canadian Innovation Results “Underwhelming,” Says World Economic Forum

According to a new release from the World Economic Forum, Canada ranks 14th overall in the 2013-14 Global Competitiveness Report, a position the country is holding for the second consecutive year.

The Conference Board of Canada, an independent, not-for-profit applied research organization subsequently published a report on their thoughts on the rankings. Needless to say, it didn’t mince words. It called Canada’s performance “underwhelming,” as it “continues to worsen.”

“When it comes to business innovation, Canada is seriously underperforming. Canada actually fell four places in factors related to innovation and business sophistication, and that’s a real concern,” said Conference Board of Canada’s Michael Bloom. “As a developed country, Canada’s economic competitiveness is largely innovation-driven.”

The report said Canada had “stagnated” on several measuring factors that “do not bode well for our economic and social well-being.”

In 2009 Canada ranked as the ninth strongest country in terms of global competitiveness. In overall innovation and business sophistication factors, the country dropped four places to 25th in this year’s ranking.

The report listed the top two most problematic factors for doing business in Canada as innovation-related : access to financing, and insufficient capacity to innovate. Canada has highly efficient goods, labour and financial markets, but trade barriers are limiting the effectiveness of these advantages.

The conference Board of Canada feels that Canada’s competitiveness could be enhanced by improvements to its innovation ecosystem through more “firm-level spending” on R&D, government purchasing and use of Canadian advanced technologies, and improving university-industry collaboration when it comes to R&D.

Canada’s competitive strengths include its primary and higher education systems, efficient labour market, and stable and efficient public institutions. “Nevertheless Canada is not taking enough advantage of this reality,” read the scathing report. “The country fell three places in the ranking of institutional strengths from 11th in 2012 to 14th this year. It also dropped three places in its labour market efficiencies from fourth in 2012 to seventh this year.”

Overall, European countries dominated the top ten positions on the list. This comes despite the fact that the European Union includes several countries still experiencing economic crises. Of course none of Italy, Greece, Cyprus or Spain made the top ten, but interestingly, Spain jumped up one spot to 35. This was mainly due to a “world-class transport infrastructure.”

For the fifth consecutive year The highest performing country on the World Economic Forum was Switzerland, followed by Singapore in second and Finland in third place. Germany and the United States each moved up two spots to 4th and 5th, respectively, while Japan and the United Kingdom ranked 9th and 10th respectively.

Canada slipped ahead of Denmark this year, but could not move up the overall ranking, as Norway advanced four places from 15th to 11th. Taiwan and Qatar ranked 12th and 13th respectively.

The United States, meanwhile, has shown extremely positive strides, jumping down to the 10th spot from 31st a few years ago. United States reversed its downward trend by rising by two positions to take 5th place this year. While the US’s economy is still recovering, “the deleveraging process in the banking sector continues to show positive effects on the stability and efficiency of the country’s financial markets,” read the Global Economic Forum’s report.



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