Canada-Poland Innovation Panel Discussion
Warsaw, Poland, Friday, October 24, 2014
I am delighted to be here at the Warsaw Stock Exchange for this discussion on encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada and in Poland.
This is the first State visit to Poland of a Canadian governor general, and I am privileged to be joined by a delegation of talented Canadians, all of whom are leaders and innovators in their respective fields.
Innovation is a priority in Canada, and it is something we have historically done rather well. To give just one example, our vast and challenging geography has led Canadians to make a number of advancements and adaptations in the field of communications.
Think of the physical lines of communications—first by canoe and kayak in Canada’s North, later by steamship and the railway—that were so vital in connecting us geographically during our country’s formative years. And then, in the 20th century, we developed new ways of coming together across vast distances: the first transatlantic wireless transmission from Signal Hill, Newfoundland, in 1901, followed by a vast radio and television network in the decades that followed.
Some of the world’s greatest communications theorists have lived and worked in Canada, and today—the age of the Internet—Canadians are again playing a prominent role in the technology of communication—think of Blackberry, for example.
Communications is just one example of a field in which Canadians have been forced to innovate due to geography and historical circumstances.
And today, we all find ourselves in a similar position, globally.
These are transformative times. Worldwide, cycles of change have accelerated, and our capacity to innovate in a nimble manner will determine our future well-being. The drivers of change are clear: deepening globalization; rapid advances in information and communications technologies; and significant demographic shifts. Compounded, these trends have brought us to a major hinge point in world history.
In this emerging world, “good” is no longer “good enough.” Both Canadians and Poles must seek new, more productive and creative solutions to the challenges we face. Canada and Poland are both quite capable of leading on innovation, but we cannot just participate: we must want to be the best. We must aspire to excellence and to be true innovation leaders.
We must also provide our innovators with tools, support and advice which will allow them to develop ideas and to bring them into the marketplace. Innovation goes hand-in-hand with entrepreneurship, and both require a healthy ecosystem to flourish and make our countries to prosper.
Poland’s strengths are numerous and impressive, and Canadians are eager to co-operate with people here on innovation and entrepreneurship—which can also be key drivers in strengthening our bilateral relationship more generally.
Now let me highlight some of what Canada can offer to Polish innovators and entrepreneurs: the benefits of strong academic institutions; advanced infrastructure; and a highly-skilled workforce. In particular, Canada is home to world-leading R&D infrastructure; innovation incentives and top scientific talent.
Innovation and education are priorities for Canadians, who recognize that our country’s long-term well-being depends on our creativity and competitiveness.
Canada therefore continues to invest significant resources to support private sector investments in innovation in order to ensure that Canada retains its place as a global leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. Recent changes to the federal science and technology system, for example, have prioritized commercialization and industry-driven research. Canada currently offers one of the most favourable tax treatments for research and development among G-7 countries, which can save firms, on average, up to 30 cents per dollar invested in R&D in Canada.
Canada also recognizes the importance of the venture capital industry to Canada’s future productivity growth. Venture capital plays an important role in promoting a more innovative economy by providing the investment and resources needed for high-potential small and medium-sized business to grow.
Given that people are the cornerstone of a healthy and dynamic innovation ecosystem, Canada is working to attract immigrant entrepreneurs who have the potential to build successful, globally-competitive companies. Canada's Start-Up Visa Program is the first of its kind in the world to facilitate visa and immigration procedures for such foreign entrepreneurs.
For these and many other reasons, Canada and Poland have a wonderful opportunity to work and to learn together. Innovation today is very often the result of working together across borders and disciplines, and I hope you take this opportunity to discuss how we can innovate together in the months and years to come and how we can foster the development of innovative, mutually beneficial economies.
I wish you the very best with your important work.