Closing the “innovation gap”

The “innovation gap” that currently exists in Canada has been widely noted. As a nation, we continue to excel at scientific discovery, but much of the research generated ends up exported to other parts of the globe where these ideas and concepts are applied and brought to market. As a result, Canada continues to face the lowest research and development (R&D), invention and productivity improvement rates of all the G7 Nations.

Radio

Inside the CIUT radio 89.5FM studio with (left) host Stephen C. Armstrong and (right) Peter DeVita, P.Eng.

On May 4, OSPE member Peter DeVita, P.Eng., president of DeVita Associates and past-president of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), was on radio show Innovation Nation on Career Buzz, to share his insights on managing innovation talent, with a focus on Canada’s STEM graduates. Hosted by Stephen Armstrong, and with phone-in commentary from OSPE member Roger Jones, P.Eng., SMIEEE and councillor, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), the show delves into the requirements for aligning STEM grads with the needs of the real economy.

The show features some significant points of discussion, including:

  • The critical role of engineering in productivity improvement for wealth creation. Canada has the necessary engineering talent at our disposal, but we are not harnessing this knowledge and expertise, so that Canada can compete globally.
  • Canada’s mercantile-based financial system, which must evolve, so that we can provide the venture capital necessary to facilitate R&D in the “new world” – an innovation world.
  • Reference to OSPE’s 2015 Labour Market report, noting that there is a vast number of engineering graduates who would like to practice engineering, but who are facing a lack of appropriate job opportunities.

The conversation also highlights OSPE’s important role as the advocacy body for Ontario’s engineers:

  • Reminding government about the need to include the engineering voice in public policy discussion and in encouraging engineers to become more politically active.
  • Educating government on the need to invest in both “classical” engineering – such as infrastructure – as well as “new age” engineering – including manufacturing and the design of new products and processes.
  • Reiterating the need for engineers to continue to operate as part of a broad team. Engineers do not work in isolation, rather they frequently collaborate with other professionals, technicians, technologists, and the like.

Listen to the full show here. *The show begins at the 3:50 mark.

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