Quick Links

Higher Education and Innovation: The Canada-U.S. Story

Speech delivered by Heather Munroe-Blum
In Boston, Massachusetts, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Fulbright Canada
September 15, 2010

Check against delivery


Opening remarks

I am honoured to contribute to this distinguished lecture series celebrating the 20th anniversary of Fulbright Canada. McGill and the Fulbright program have a long and fruitful history together. The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program, like its parent initiative, has proven itself the pinnacle of intellectual exchange.

Fulbright, for example, has enabled dozens of McGill students and professors to further their pursuit of excellence, and allowed us to host some of America’s sharpest minds on our campuses. In 2004, McGill and Fulbright deepened their relationship by establishing the Fulbright Visiting Research Chairs, which see exceptional American scholars pursuing their research and teaching at McGill. This year, as a continuation of our mutually beneficial partnership, two American students and three professors enriched our McGill community as Fulbright students and chairs, while two McGill professors and two McGill students travelled to the U.S., thanks to Fulbright support.

What’s more, McGill and Fulbright share the same deeply held philosophy—that bringing people together from around the world at a university is the best means to foster a deeper knowledge, mutual understanding and progress. More than 200,000 living McGill alumni are distributed throughout virtually every nation in the world, and our students currently hail from approximately 150 countries. The Fulbright program operates in 155.

When the Fulbright program was created in 1946, founded on Senator William J. Fulbright’s prescient vision, the world was at a turning point, much as it is now. Then, countries were scrambling to rebuild their societies following a horrific global conflict, the Second World War. Now, we are scrambling to rebuild in the wake of the global economic crisis, facing both war and natural disasters of global impact.

The year before the Fulbright program was forged, the Manhattan Project, was coming to an end. The project, despite its horrifying end goal, was the most significant U.S. scientific partnership of government, academia and industry to that date. Vannevar Bush had just published his seminal report, Science: The Endless Frontier, which argued compellingly for continuing government support of science, in the effort to rebuild the post-war economy. America stood at a moment of decision. Where does research go from here? How can we harness knowledge beyond purely military purposes for the good of humankind?

Today, we are living in the midst of a revolution in global knowledge and communication. Populations are mobile across national borders on a scale previously unseen. These forces are reconfiguring economies, power structures, societies and institutions. Again, the United States and Canada, and countries around the globe, are wrestling with many of the same issues —now staggeringly more complex —that Vannevar Bush outlined in his 1945 report:

  • support for basic versus applied research;
  • how to create international scientific co-operation;
  • how to fight disease; and
  • how to guarantee freedom of inquiry.

Despite the similarities to that time, there are real differences now. Then, as other countries struggled to glue together their shattered economies, the U.S. and Canada enjoyed a post-war boom, that, for America, cemented its superpower status. Today, America is living through the Great Recession. Due to our close trade links, the old adage “If America sneezes, Canada catches a cold” often holds true. Thanks, in part, to a stronger regulatory environment, Canada has thus far been spared the worst of the current storm.

And the world around us is vastly different from the years following World War II. It is true that the global crisis nearly leveled many countries’ economies - particularly in the West. But long before the shattering events of 2008, the electronic mobility of the knowledge revolution was already redrawing the map of global influence. Today, any nation of reasonable economic means can play on the world stage —so long as it possesses the ambition, the vision and commitment to harness the creative and intellectual talents of its citizens, and to build a knowledge-and-innovation-based economy. And while this, in itself, reflects welcome world progress, this new landscape threatens the West’s historic advantages.

Today, I am here to talk to you about some of the challenges in research and higher education that Canada and the United States face in laying claim to title as “Innovation Nations”, and to put forward some ideas as to how to meet them. My main message? It’s the same one that FDR and Churchill understood in 1939: to be complacent will be disastrous.

The World is Changing

So, we know that the knowledge/technology revolution has changed the world. How? Let’s begin with a few facts.

Fulbright Slide 1

As you can see on this slide, the growth in global expenditures on R&D is outpacing economic growth, and the number of people earning higher education degrees is expanding rapidly.1 The facts show that innovation drives economic growth in industrial countries, and it is rapidly becoming the engine of many up-and-coming economies. According to the OECD, innovation accounted for two-thirds to three-quarters of economic growth in Austria, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States between 1995 and 2006.2

That same report noted that innovation accounts for much of the gap between advanced and emerging countries. But with the huge focus on R&D and higher education in many Asian economies, the label “emerging” will not stick for long. Singapore has “emerged” to become the number one country in the 2010 IMD World Competitiveness Scoreboard, bumping the United States out of its number one ranking into third place. And in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report released last week, the United States, which already lost the top spot to Switzerland last year, has dropped to fourth place, outranked by Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore, in that order.

Fulbright slide 2010

Case in point: China.

Fulbright slide 2010

As you know, in 2009, China usurped Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. Japan’s lagging performance is a large part of that story, but there’s no denying China’s impressive growth.

Innovation and competitiveness are driven by a well-educated population, a sustained, effective investment in fundamental research, and a commitment to R&D&D: research, discovery and dissemination (development). China’s massive investments in these are showing results.

Fulbright slide 2010

The number of people obtaining a tertiary education grew nearly four-fold in just nine years.3 In 2007, China also took the #2 spot for volume of research articles published.4 Who ceded that title to China? Japan. R&D as a percentage of GDP, or GERD, grew in China from 0.6 per cent in 1996 to 1.5 per cent in 2007.5 Growing GERD by 250 per cent is pretty impressive, even if the starting point was fairly low. But factor in average growth of 12 per cent annually in China’s GDP, and you begin to see the formidable strides. To put this in perspective, China is rapidly approaching Canada’s GERD, which sits at 1.9 per cent.

Fulbright slide 2010

Indeed, all the BRIC countries—the emerging economic powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China—tripled their production of scientific articles in just over a decade.6 In approximately the same period, the U.S. share of publications dropped from 25 per cent to 18 per cent.7 In 1980, people from developing Asian economies accounted for 14 per cent of the people who completed tertiary education worldwide. In 2000, those same countries were home to 25 per cent of degree holders.8 And in 2006, Brazil, Russia, India, and China produced half as many doctorates as all 30 OECD countries combined.9 The time when non-Western scientists had to partner with prominent Western scientists before achieving international acclaim is over. In the coming years, we are likely to see the situation reverse.

In some respects, nations are just like individuals. It’s clear that innovation, and the education that equips people to innovate, are key to national progress. But they’re also essential for staying ahead. We can see this in the policy changes of the European Union, which is striving to raise R&D to three per cent of GDP. The EU is working to make its universities more autonomous, more entrepreneurial and more accountable - and, therefore, higher performing.

Canada’s story

Before moving to a comparison of Canada and the U.S., I’d like to sketch for you Canada’s recent innovation story. In the early to mid-1990s, having been for decades highly productive in producing high quality science and education, Canada began to lag in research, while the U.S. was leaping forward. Canada experienced an alarming “brain drain,” not in numbers per se, but in having many of its brightest minds lured stateside. Talent goes where the opportunities are, and Canada was simply no longer competitive to top talent in key fields.

Compounding the challenge of a growing federal deficit, Canada lacked a national strategy for education and research. Education is a provincial (state) responsibility in Canada, and research, dominantly a federal domain. Provinces, unlike the state of California at that time, have long favoured a largely unitary approach to university funding: a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t recognize or encourage differentiation by institution on the basis of mission or quality. And, during these years of the mid-nineties, most provinces sharply reduced university grants.

In short, times were bleak.

Fortunately, with the emerging impact of the dawn of the Knowledge Era, and the loss of some top performers, Canada’s federal and provincial governments awoke to the urgency of supporting high-quality research and, in some cases, mission-specific education.

In 1996, with its economic house getting back on track, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with university and industry leaders and advisory groups, formulated a new R&D strategy —one focused on “the creation of a more effective, integrated innovation system.” The federal government re-imagined its role as “that of information analyst, knowledge disseminator and network builder.”10

This paradigm shift brought with it substantial investment in universities targeted to support four proven “pillars” of research excellence:

  • well-prepared people,
  • infrastructure,
  • research operating support and
  • for the first time, a federal program to fund indirect research cost recovery (though not yet at the rate of full costs as recognized by the U.S.).

Fulbright slide 2010

These programs, along with funding from Canada’s federal granting councils, represent well over $20 billion of federal investment in university research since 1997.11 The programs balance the strategic economic objectives of government with increasingly rigorous peer review that fosters excellence and impact increasingly as measured by international standards. Many encourage collaboration across institutions and sectors, a great benefit to a country with a large geography and a small population.

In a visionary move, the federal government created the Canada Foundation for Innovation to address the burgeoning need for large, coordinated investment in major research infrastructure. That investment was recently augmented with $2 billion of stimulus funding through the Knowledge Infrastructure Fund.

Talented people are the cornerstone of the Canadian strategy: 20 Canada Excellence Research Chairs, competitive support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and 2,000 Canada Research Chairs —which on a per-capita basis would scale to the equivalent of 20,000 chairs here in the U.S.

From 1997 to 2007, federal investments in university research began to make up for the lost years, growing by an average of 11 per cent annually. The “brain drain” was halted. Indeed, in the past decade alone, McGill, for example, has recruited over 930 outstanding new tenure-track researchers and professors—that’s over half of our tenure-streamed faculty—on the basis of worldwide, competitive searches. In 2010, four Canadian universities earned a spot in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings, with McGill leading at 19th. Importantly, the focus on building Canada’s innovation capacity has been sustained through changes in government.

It’s a moving story, but our progress is still fragile.

The Canada-U.S. Story

Now to the Canada-U.S. story. I was recently appointed a member of the new U.S. National Research Council Committee studying research universities. It is examining “the top ten actions that [we]… could take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence … needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century.”12

The work of this committee and of Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council, shows that the details of the innovation challenges our two countries face vary somewhat. But we are bonded, and not just by geography, not just by shared history, but by a basic, stark reality: we’re stagnating, or not moving fast enough in fundamental ways, while others are racing ahead.

The U.S. is still a giant — it is by far the world’s largest R&D-performing nation. But giants can fall.

For the U.S., GERD, or R&D as a percentage of GDP, which peaked in 1964, when it was almost 3 per cent.13 Let’s now look at the latest OECD rankings:

Fulbright slide 2010

In 2007, the U.S, represented here by the blue bar. sits 8th; Canada, the red bar, is 14th, behind the OECD average, shown in green.14

Now let’s compare the growth of GERD for U.S., Canada, the U.K. and France to the growth of select Asian economies.

Growth has flatlined in the U.S. and many developed countries.15 The following slide looks like the Prairies.

Fulbright slide 2010

The next shows growth over time in GERD in Asian economies, and is more like the slope of the Rockies.16

Fulbright slide 2010

In Canada, GERD has dropped despite massive investment from governments and universities. Why? At Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council, we last year authored the first multinational, comparative “State of the Nation” report to examine Canada’s innovation performance. We found the most urgent problem is that “Canadian companies do not invest as much as their competitors around the world in R&D,”17 though there is a lot happening at the top and the bottom of the scale. The 25 largest R&D companies accounted for one-third of all domestic industrial R&D in 2009,18 and small Canadian research companies performed a far higher percentage of business R&D than their U.S. counterparts.19 But in the sizable middle of Canadian industry, R&D investment is thin. We don’t see this as simply a private sector problem, but as a need for all partners in Canada’s innovation system to work more closely together. To quote the State of the Nation report, “We have learned that … stimulating innovation requires sustained collaboration and a systemic response by different individuals and institutions in the innovation system working together.”20

While U.S. businesses expend an enviable $265 billion annually on R&D—the equivalent of Norway’s entire gross domestic product21—average annual R&D growth over the last decade was below the OECD average, and only one-seventh that of China’s businesses.22

Despite the stories you sometimes hear about big-name innovators who never completed college or even high school, high levels of education are the key enabling factor for most 21st-century innovations. The U.S.’s worrisome performance overall in primary and secondary school education —a condition shared by several Canadian provinces — is a sign of trouble to come, if not effectively addressed. And all of North America needs an action plan to mobilize boys to attain a higher level of education, starting with increases in high-school graduation..

Fulbright slide 2010

In tests of the performance of 15-year-old students in 39 countries through the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, called PISA, the U.S., seen here again in blue, ranked 18th in science of 39 countries, with 9 per cent of American 15-year-olds considered top performers. Canada, in red, placed a respectable sixth. But Finland, the best-performing country, represented by the yellow bar, had more than 20 per cent of their 15-year-olds ranked as top performers.23

In math, the performance was even poorer. The U.S., again in blue, ranked only 27th, with less than 8 per cent of students considered top performers. Hong Kong, China scored nearly 28 per cent.24

Fulbright slide 2010

Canada leads the world in the percentage of combined community college and university graduates. But we lag far behind in university graduation, particularly for PhDs25—often the very people who drive innovation most.

Fulbright slide 2010

The U.S., with its legendary higher-education system, now sits at 15th of 24 countries tracked by the OECD, and below the OECD average for rate of university graduation at 39 per cent. And 11 of 24 countries tracked by the OECD boast graduation rates of 40 per cent or higher.26

In fact, university graduation rates in both Canada and the U.S. have barely budged in recent years, while the OECD average graduation rate for universities nearly doubled from 1995 to 2007. And that doesn’t include the Asian economies. Think of it — 1995 to 2007 — that’s just 12 years —I’m sure there are Senate debates that last longer than that. Finland soared from 20 per cent to 48 per cent. Switzerland went from 9 per cent to 31 per cent.27

Fulbright slide 2010

You may be thinking, “just how many university graduates do we need? Isn’t 35 per cent enough?” One time, the answer would have been “yes”. But not today. In most countries, the percentage of younger people holding university degrees is significantly higher than the percentage of older people. Not so in the U.S., where the two groups have roughly the same levels of education.28 And international students received more than 50 per cent of S&E doctorates awarded in the U.S. since 2006. In 2007, international students received 68 per cent of the American engineering doctoral degrees granted.29

Given our recent performance, where will we be in ten years?

Fulbright slide 2010

Back to Basics

O.K. Enough gloom and doom. What can be done?

Let’s start with the basics. Let me repeat: in the new global community, prosperity and well-being will come from three things - education, education, and education - at all levels. Primary, secondary and tertiary. As Finland, Singapore, and other countries have proven, dramatic gains in educational outcomes can be made, and quickly. Canada and the U.S. must not stagnate or decline while the rest of the world gets smarter. We need a drive to re-emphasize education as a top priority at every level of society.

And we need the right type of education, one that effectively prepares our young people, for this new world. What is the right kind of university education? University graduates will flourish in an innovation context only if they are equipped with the capacity to create their own knowledge, to be both innovative and entrepreneurial, to have the communication and social skills needed to build teams and networks of diverse people, and the leadership and business skills to manage them.

For today’s students to become tomorrow’s innovators and global network builders, they must have what John Kao, the author of Innovation Nation, calls “cultural intelligence.” Students will require multilingualism, world experiences, experience of and comfort with varied cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. I’d add to these characteristics, the key qualities of empathy and authenticity, which begin very early in life. The combined presence of these will be highly sought-after qualities for global leadership. To achieve these, we must move away from international educational experiences as “bubble programs” where students are sheltered from the character and people of the very places they are visiting. Effective international university programs connect students directly in collaboration with people in the different cultures and countries they are visiting. We need more programs like Fulbright.

The “back-to-basics” mantra applies to research and scholarship, too. Businesses have become obsessed with the short term. With the emphasis on quarterly results, it can be hard to justify the risks or longer lead-times of complex research, development and innovation.

Similarly, our research funding agencies, in an effort to show government sponsors concrete results, are increasingly reluctant to support seemingly risky or “blue-sky” proposals. Critically important is our scholarship exploring technology and knowledge domains in the human fields: the social sciences and the humanities. These receive insufficient funding in North America. But it’s often the very understanding of human considerations and characteristics that lead to the big breakthroughs and solutions for big problems. What is innovation if not a human breaking of the status quo? As Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100 per cent of the shots that you don’t take.” This is a matter of human motivation, preparation and instinct.

The New Innovation Story

These basics of education and research are as true today as they were in Vannevar Bush’s post-war era. But the character of the innovation story has changed dramatically. Gone is the master narrative of the conveyor belt that carries a new idea in linear fashion from basic research to applied research to development to product. Today’s innovation is a global web, in which ideas and people are in perpetual movement and flux. It’s fundamentally collaborative, multidisciplinary and nimble. While there are many elements in the new innovation story, I’ll focus on three: creativity, knowledge flows and global connectedness.

  1. Creativity

    Innovation is, at its core, a creative endeavour - and I say this as a big believer in “left-brain” concepts of strategy, priorities, and direction. There is no step-by-step handbook for creating breakthroughs. This process is as unpredictable as dreaming, and the end result not always obvious. British Prime Minister William Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, is said to have quizzed Michael Faraday, the legendarily inventive 19th-century scientist, on the utility of electromagnetism. The quick-witted Faraday retorted, “Why, sir, there is every probability that you will soon be able to tax it!”30 As unpredictable as the process of creation is, we can take steps to enhance the probability of a breakthrough. We can re-finance our learning and work places to empower people to take risks, to make unexpected connections, to look at problems in entirely new ways, to communicate these hunches or insights, and to be receptive to ideas from others: we can conquer tradition and ego, and still be accountable.

    Design agencies, small businesses and innovation hotbeds like Google and, yes, the university can be role models for innovative processes and businesses. We share common traits: a relatively flat and flexible hierarchy, where creation is the goal, an open flow of information, and, more and more, creative workspaces and other incentives that foster interaction and communication. What then is a university, if not a collection of creative “boutiques” in miniature, where scholarly teams of smart, and increasingly inter-disciplinary people are rushing toward the next big idea? Google gives its workers roughly one day a week to pursue their own ideas for the company. About 50 per cent of its innovations, including Gmail and Google News, have come from this “20 per cent” time.

  2. Knowledge Flows

    Google’s immense creativity stems in part from its strength in sharing knowledge, which is one of the trickiest issues in societies aspiring to become more innovative. How do we make knowledge open enough to promote the free flow of ideas, but managed so as to realize return on investment? How do we promote better interaction amongst universities, government and business, including small- and medium-sized enterprises, including family businesses, so that the “creators” and “users” of knowledge communicate and collaborate effectively?

    Let me float a few ideas.

    Newer models of information sharing are clashing with traditional proprietary systems of intellectual property management. McGill law professor Richard Gold of the International Expert Group on Biotechnology, Innovation and Intellectual Property, suggests a “New Era” of Intellectual Property —one that sees IP management best framed as a way to promote knowledge sharing rather than as a means to control and limit knowledge flow.

    Achieving the right balance between closed and open IP is a particularly acute problem for some of our key economic sectors, for example the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. They’re caught in a catch-22. Strong IP protection is framed as the only way to recoup major investment in a necessarily long and costly development process - yet that walling-off of knowledge, may be in part, the very reason the number of new drugs created in recent years has fallen so dramatically.

    At American and Canadian universities, the traditional hallmarks of closed IP —patents, licenses, contracts and associated streamed income —have been viewed as a concrete way to monetize the impact of knowledge. But the new innovation era demands expanded notions of “technology transfer,” models that support open innovation. In the traditional model, the university and a company negotiate an agreement covering IP rights in what is often a very lengthy and complex process. Rather than taking endless time to rigorously protect IP, maybe we should focus on how to enable more liberal flows of information between universities and their partners. What, you may ask, then happens in the case of a “windfall” discovery —one that turns out to be hugely profitable, such as Gatorade? If the intellectual property isn’t protected, how will those who have invested their talents and their resources gain their fair share of the profits? What role will students play? Agreements can cover that situation in a standard “windfall” clause, which would kick in if, and only if, the invention becomes highly profitable. In this model, the rewards can come routinely via expanded research and learning opportunities, jobs for graduates and philanthropy, and all benefit in the event of a major breakthrough with massive financial impacts.

    Rethinking how we manage IP is key, because we’re just not forming the rich mutual partnerships of business, government and universities that our countries need to increase our competitiveness and to sustain and grow quality of life. If patriotism and institutional pride won’t move us to do so, we’re also letting short-term greed get in the way of long-term greed.

    Both users and creators of knowledge —if that distinction even holds today — are dynamic elements in the process of creation. This was a key factor in the success of industrial R&D shops at Bell Laboratories and Intel.

    Basic researchers, applied researchers and product designers sharing ideas and problems, whether in the same organization or across organizations, can lead to rewarding solutions.

  3. Global Connectedness

    Third, perhaps most crucial now, is building and living global connectedness. In the last few decades, the development of regional clusters, modeled worldwide after the success of Route 128 or Silicon Valley, have been a cornerstone innovation in economic policy. In Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council "State of the Nation" report, we noted that “the dynamics of clusters are particularly important to high-tech industries and highly innovative sectors.”31

    The most effective clusters have seen government, industry and universities working on shared goals in a three-way partnership—what Stanford professor Henry Etzkowitz calls the “triple helix” model—and then applying this on the world stage. Today, building local strength in priority areas is no longer enough. Only clusters that are competitive and connected on the world stage will achieve sustained local benefit. Without these, there is no “recession-proofing” of our local communities. Top research universities are already in the core business of connecting people —through high-profile international collaborations, alumni networks and globe-trotting students. We use our connections every day to morph clusters into innovation hubs at the centre of global networks. And we can do more of this.

    For example, at McGill, we’ve been working with key partners in Canada and in California to pioneer a new type of large-scale international framework, one that networks government, industry and universities in both locales - a double triple helix, if you will. This Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership (CCSIP) is an entrepreneurial collaboration among the three sectors in two innovation-intensive regions. This is not the usual model of researcher-to-researcher collaboration. This partnership creates new models of cooperation and focuses on innovation-intensive fields, such as sustainable energy and bioimaging technology, that are strengths for both jurisdictions.

    This “triple helix” strategy is a promising future model for research partnerships. It takes a proven regional strategy and globalizes it. It uses shared priorities and strengths to quickly identify, and act upon, critical research questions that align with industry and community needs. And perhaps most importantly, it establishes a network of key players —the organizations and people that, when brought together, are most likely to jumpstart innovation.

    The Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership is a model for future international collaborations in general, and, I expect, for future Canada-U.S. partnerships, in particular. For example, two regions well suited to benefit from the double triple helix model are Massachusetts and Quebec. Look at the incredible similarities. Our innovation centres, Boston and Montreal, have evolved from historic ports to manufacturing bases, and then successfully reinvented themselves by diversifying into knowledge- and technology-intensive industries. These regions share strengths in life sciences, design, information and communications technology, and green technologies, among others. Montreal and Boston run neck-and-neck in staking a claim to the highest number of university students per capita in North America.

    We don’t lack for individual partnerships. For the third edition of McGill’s very successful Crossroads for Biotransfer event, which brings together biotechnology and biopharmaceutical business leaders and the academic community, we played off these shared strengths by partnering with the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center. We’re also seeing McGill spin-off companies—I’m thinking about companies like David Burns’ Molecular Biometrics, or Uri Saragovi’s Mimetogen Pharmaceuticals—open up Boston offices in order to more actively collaborate with researchers, investors and other innovators in the Boston area. These initiatives are promising, but we can greatly increase the probability of innovation and mutual benefit if we connect our shared areas of excellence through a mutually invested double triple helix.

Recommendations

So what can the U.S. and Canada do to create the “new prosperity”, and in so doing, to advance our health and social well-being? I have six recommendations.

#6: Canada and the U.S. must commit to a concerted drive to raise university graduation rates north of 45 per cent, beginning with improved success at earlier stages. Let’s bring together our leaders in education from across North America to determine the top 10 barriers to obtaining a university degree, and then to overcome them.

#5: Let’s rethink our public and private sector workplaces to form incubators of innovation, to flatten bureaucracy and hierarchy, to incent and empower individuals to connect and create. One concrete step in this regard would be to place more research masters and doctoral students out into industries as a way of kick-starting this, as many European countries and some Asian regions are doing. A majority of SMEs would benefit from this.

#4: It’s time to look at better ways to improve flows for knowledge. Let’s re-think traditional intellectual property frameworks and practices to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment and to ensure innovation is promoted, not stifled. Let’s have universities, governments and industry together eliminate the barriers to successful knowledge exchange. We need to think seriously about how to rework university-industry agreements to free knowledge flows, rather than to constrain them.

#3: Let’s turn our clusters into globally connected hubs, building with large-scale, international and inter-sectoral collaborations - we did it in sequencing the human genome. We can build this model of industry, government and university in one region, linking with same in another, in a wide variety of areas. Canada and the U.S. can take a cue from the European Union, which is encouraging collaboration across member countries in a common European Research Area. We might start by getting the three sectors in Massachusetts and Quebec to create a second “double triple helix” in two or three areas of promising mutually competitive strength.

#2: To protect our quality of life, we require people across our two nations to live and breathe the importance of high quality and cooperative research, education, industry and innovation. The “us-versus-them” narrative succeeded for the U.S. in driving technological dominance during the Second World War, and during the Cold War, when the American people were shocked out of complacency by the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch. Creating innovation today isn’t an “us-versus-them” process. It’s people, organizations and regions comfortable with “difference,” who value diversity, along with excellence and outreach, working together to create quality and benefit that match with the best of global standards, and sharing in the benefits that are achieved. This story has no bad guy.

#1: Let’s reinvest in basic as well as applied research, in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the physical sciences, life sciences and engineering, in a sustained, competitive fashion. We can build on the special strengths that we in North America have, in naturally bringing these disciplines together in our schools and universities, something many other nations are ill-equipped to do, because they separate their educational and research institutions along disciplinary lines. Funding sports arenas and casinos —at the cost of the humanities and basic research, PhDs and post-docs —does not serve our societies well.

If all of this sounds as if I am worried, or pessimistic, don’t be fooled. I have enormous confidence in the capacity of our two great countries, Canada and the United States, brother and sister if you will, to do what we have always done best —but to do it differently. That is, to succeed on the basis of our strong values, our openness and, indeed, our embracing of different points of view and new ideas.

Canada has benefitted enormously from the spill-over culture of excellence, rugged individualism, competition and high aspiration celebrated in the United States. We like to think that you may have benefitted from our internationally connected, multicultural character, our concern for equity and our communitarian orientation. The extraordinary mobility of our citizens in both directions across that 49th parallel is evidence of our mutual attractiveness and natural coming together.

Let’s now take all the best of what we offer to each other to engage the values of the Canada Fulbright Program to achieve progress moving forward. I have the utmost confidence that we can achieve this. I’m simply impatient, like you, I’m sure, for us to move forward.

Let’s do so, inspired by that great Fulbright vision.

Thank you.

 


Footnotes

1National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. 2010. Pages O4 and O20. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Global Education Digest 2009: Comparing Education Statistics Across the World. 2009. Pages 9 and 10. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD Innovation Strategy: Getting a Head Start on Tomorrow. 2010. Page 56.
2The OECD Innovation Strategy. Page 9.
3According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, China’s tertiary graduation numbers were 1,775,999 in 2000 and 7,071,047 in 2009.
4Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. Page O-9
5Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. Page O-4. GDP figures are taken from the CIA World Factbook and the International Monetary Fund.
6The OECD Innovation Strategy. Page 45.
7The OECD Innovation Strategy. Page 46.
8Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. Page 0-6.
9OECD. OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2009. 2009. Page 17.
10“Government of Canada. Science and Technology for the New Century: A Federal Strategy. 1996. Pages 4 and 10.
11Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Momentum: The 2008 Report on University Research and Knowledge Mobilization. 2008. Page 14. This figure represents federal investment in research from 1997-98 to 2007-08, including the federal granting councils, but not the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs, the Knowledge Infrastructure Fund, or the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships.
12National Research Council Policy and Global Affairs Board on Higher Education and Workforce, Study on Research Universities, Statement of Task, 2010.
13Homer A. Neal, Tobin L. Smith and Jennifer B. McCormick. Beyond SPUTNIK: U.S. Policy in the Twenty-First Century. 2008. Page 81.
14OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2009. Page 27. OECD StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/742024553847
15OECD. Main Science and Technology Indicators. 2010. Volume 2010/1. Page 25.
16Main Science and Technology Indicators. Page 25.
17Science, Technology and Innovation Council, State of the Nation 2008: Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation System., page 4.
18OECD. OECD Innovation Strategy 2010, page 34.
19OECD, Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2009, page 35. OECD StatsLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/742335760410
20State of the Nation 2008. Page 1.
21CIA World Factbook. Norway’s GDP in 2009 was $267.4 billion (adjusted for purchasing power parity).
22OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2009, page 31.
23OECD. OECD 2009 Education at a Glance. 2009. Page 78.
24OECD. Measuring Innovation: A New Perspective. 2010. Page 44. OECD StatsLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/835310061550
25The Conference Board of Canada, How Canada Performs. January 2010. Canada is graded a “D” and ranks last among 17 peer countries for percentage of PhDs. See http://www.conferenceboard.ca/HCP/Details/education/Phd-graduates.aspx.
26OECD. Education at a Glance 2010: OECD Indicators. 2010. Page 61. OECD StatsLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932310130
27OECD StatsLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932310130
28Education at a Glance 2010. Page 26. OECD StatsLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932310092.
29Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. P.0-7.
30R.A. Gregory, Discovery Or, the Spirit and Service of Science (1916).
31State of the Nation 2008. Page 28.