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Alberta, Ontario Lead in Innovation Ranking

Press Release

November 28, 2014 – Alberta and Ontario are leading the pack in innovation as measured by patents filed per capita, according to a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Measuring Innovation in Canada: The Tale Told by Patent Applications,” authors Robbie Brydon, Nicholas Chesterley, Benjamin Dachis and Aaron Jacobs show for the first time which provinces and which sectors are leading or lagging in Canadian-led innovation for the Canadian market.

“Provincially, Alberta stands out as a success story, with it and Ontario leading the pack in terms of patents per capita,” notes Benjamin Dachis, one of the authors. The report finds that inventors in Alberta and the utilities and construction sectors – which in the public debate are often said to be producing little domestic “value added” – are outperforming their peers in other parts of the economy in terms of applying their work to the Canadian market. The authors also find that the number of Canadian patents in the computer and electronic products sector is increasing rapidly, suggesting those sectors are making an increasing contribution to Canadian innovation

However, not all is rosy for Canadian innovators. “The Atlantic Provinces are dramatically below average, and every province has seen a decline in patent applications per capita in the last decade,” states the report. It adds that “in the pharmaceutical and medical device sector, Canadian inventors looking to patent in Canada are few and far between.” Though pharmaceutical products are seen as a strength of Canadian innovation, the authors’ analysis indicates that when Canadians do contribute to these sectors, their contributions may be intended for international markets.

The report points to broad policy lessons for Canadian governments. Having the revenues from patents and other intellectual property enjoy a preferential tax rate could lead to greater commercialization, the authors conclude. As it is, Canada performs well on measures of research and development inputs, such as journal publications, academic citations and the generosity of research and development tax credits, but appears to be struggling with the commercialization aspect of the innovation process.

The C. D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. It is Canada’s trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review. It is considered by many to be Canada’s most influential think tank.

For the report go to:

For more information contact: Benjamin Dachis, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute, at 416-865-1904; E-mail: [email protected].


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