The Role of Government in Innovation

In by contextere

contextere recently participated in the Consul General of Canada’s Build Breakfast in New York City. The private breakfast brought together leaders in operations, security, IT and supply chain to discuss innovative solutions to make organizations better protected and more efficient. A vital part of the conversation was the Government’s role in innovation, which often spans many areas including addressing the skills gap, universal basic income, and augmentation versus automation. When we consider the role of Governments in fostering innovation, I believe that there are four noteworthy areas to consider: technology, talent, trade, and, access.  


From a technology perspective, Governments can ensure the underlying infrastructure exists for both large and small business to build upon. You can easily argue that any country committed to equality of opportunity for its citizens includes high-speed access to the internet.  


Talent is arguably the most important driver of innovation and Governments unquestionably play a critical role. It starts, as you would expect, with transforming the educational system so the children of today are developing the skills of tomorrow. This will not only ensure a large, readily available talent pool for tomorrow but will also ensure children are developing the right skills to find meaningful work. 

Governments can also focus on enabling technical training and labor mobility. The Polytechnics institutions in North America are well positioned to help bridge the skills gap. Lastly, actively recruiting high potential and highly educated workers from around the globe can take labor mobility to the next level. This is a “must have” in today’s global market.  


Once the technology and talent elements are in place, negotiating international trade agreements and supporting free trade increase market potential. Growth occurs exponentially faster when strong export markets are in place and global supply chains are available. 


In my opinion, none of the areas remove the burden from the corporate sector. Ultimately, they’re accountable to develop employees to drive the business results they deliver to customers. However, the corporate sector’s job becomes infinitely easier when Governments provide a solid technical, trade, and labor foundation for innovation to flourish; this is where access occurs. 

Finally, although Governments can have a large positive impact on stimulating innovation, it should be emphasized that the private sector owns the responsibility. Thus, we should consider taking a holistic approach. This includes having Governments, the corporate sector, not-for-profits, and individual citizens being accountable for moving the needle forward and stimulating innovation. 


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