Dan Breznitz unmuzzled: Canada Innovation Corporation architect explains how we got here

Dan Breznitz
What the CIC is missing, who might make a good CEO, and why the Crown corp. comes with carrots and sticks.

In September 2021, on the campaign trail for the election nobody wanted, the federal Liberals made a promise for a $2 billion advanced research agency—a Canadian DARPA, or CARPA, if you will.

Fast forward to April 2022 and #Budget2022, and CARPA is gone, to be replaced by a Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency.

After that, not a peep.

“Let’s be blunt about it: we as a country are extremely good at invention … we’re horrible at innovation.”
– Dan Breznitz

Until last month, when the federal government unveiled the Canada Innovation Corporation—now a $2.6 billion program over four years, with $1.3 billion going to absorb IRAP (so, bigger and smaller). We might not see this new Crown corporation in action until 2024.

So, how did the CIC come to be? More importantly, who can answer this question for us?

Last August, when BetaKit was snooping around for answers, there was only one name we kept hearing: Dan Breznitz, co-director of the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto. By all accounts, he is one of the main architects of the CIC.

And, in his own words, with his work for the feds over, Breznitz is now “unmuzzled” and able to speak (mostly) freely on how the CIC came to be, what was wrong with the original Canadian DARPA plan in the first place, and why Canada has such a problem with innovation.

On this episode, Breznitz also lays out what he thinks is missing from the CIC, why the organization will come with both carrots and sticks, and who he thinks might make a great CEO for the new Crown corp (it doesn’t seem like he wants the job).

This episode covers a lot of ground, tackling everything from global macroeconomics, to federal innovation policy, to the state of the Leafs. But unlike most of our guests (and hosts), Breznitz speaks in complete paragraphs, making it easy for you to follow the multi-year process he lays out to create… well, this new multi-year process that is the CIC.

Let’s dig in.

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The BetaKit Podcast is hosted by Douglas Soltys & Rob Kenedi. Edited by Kattie Laur.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

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