Polytechnics Canada urges a focus on ways to improve job growth and commercial success, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the 2011 federal budget. We believe these goals can be best achieved at low or no cost through more incentives for the undervalued actors in the Canadian innovation system: polytechnic institutions and colleges, and SMEs.
The Canadian innovation landscape today comprises more than universities and big business. It now also includes colleges and SMEs as major players. Polytechnics and colleges provide highlytrained job-ready graduates as well as technology-gap services that meet industry’s real needs delivered at business speed, not at the languorous pace of theoretical, academic discovery. While Ottawa boosted its applied research support to our members from $1.8 million to $10.4 million in the 2009/10 fiscal year, it continues to provide universities with nearly $3 billion for pure research. Our economic future depends on narrowing this gap, substantially.
The next budget should focus on small-scale, targeted funding to ensure that the Canadian innovation system as a whole is able to succeed by encouraging and incentivizing the smaller participants such as colleges and SMEs. Specifically, Polytechnics Canada recommends the following funding priorities, which include demonstration projects for business innovation:
- Renew commitment to the post-secondary education portion of the Canada Social Transfer.
- Double the annual funding for the Industrial Research Assistance Program.
- Create a Commercialization Chair program for polytechnics and colleges.
- Expand the Applied Research and Commercialization Initiative.
- Include colleges, polytechnics and their students for eligibility in all existing federal research granting council programs that are relevant to our mandates.
- Lead and launch an inclusive National Digital Skills Strategy ensuring best use of college contribution to the information communications technology (ICT) sector.
- Pilot a Creativity Transfer Fund designed to strengthen the SMEs in the ICT sector.
- Create a pilot program for foreign-trained researchers to gain experience at polytechnic institutions and colleges.