“The biggest challenge is to bring Canada’s widely dispersed technologies together, so that Canadian companies can compete on a global scale, and ultimately become more innovative and prosperous,” says Gilles Rheaume, vice president of public policy at the Conference Board of Canada.

Canada has a consistently poor record on innovation, in part because it fails to take advantage of opportunities in which it can combine leading-edge technology with the potential to develop globally-competitive companies, says a report published by the Board, based on the advice of the Leaders’ Panel on Innovation-Based Commerce.

The Board has identified three opportunities: clean energy technologies, water management technologies, and stem-cell based regenerative medicine (clinical techniques that can regrow and reconstruct damaged body parts).

According to the report, each of these technologies has existing or potential global market, plus world-class science and technology in these areas, as well as the business capacity to bring these technologies to market.

“In all of these areas, Canada has brilliant technologies scattered in small regional clusters,” says Rheaume.

Different strategies will be required to realize the potential of these opportunities. The report, released yesterday, recommends that Canada let provincial clean energy utilities go global, and that it implement a national program to retrofit municipal water infrastructure with leading-edge “smart” technologies, produced by Canadian firms with the intent to go global.

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