Sigma Xi AGM Lecture: Science, Technology, and Innovation in the 21st Century

Sigma-Xi The Scientific Research Society University of Toronto Chapter presents its AGM Lecture Science, Technology, and Innovation in the 21st Century David A. Wolfe Co-Director, Program on Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto As Canada rides the current ebb and flow of global demand for our natural resources and commodities, some worry that this masks a continuing weakness in other sectors - particularly those with the greatest potential to sustain our future level of economic well-being. The late John de la Mothe calculated that the 2002 Innovation Agenda marked the eighteenth major science, technology and innovation policy paper or review prepared for the federal government since 1978. That would make the recent strategy paper, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage, nineteenth in the series. If the mere production of such reports was sufficient to guarantee success, our economic future would be assured. There is a worrying sense that our preoccupation with such strategy reports masks an underlying confusion about the relation between science, technology and innovation in a 21st century economy. The focus of many of these reports and strategies reflects a simple or linear understanding of the relation between science and technology and the broader structure of the economy. Innovation and technical progress are increasingly generated by a complex set of institutions that produce, distribute and apply various kinds of knowledge. Central to this process is the degree of complementarity or fit between the various institutions which perform this role and the way in which they adopt and diffuse technologies. This talk will present the innovation systems approach, which a growing number of analysts and policy organizations have adopted over the past decade to explore these relationships. We'll also discuss the specific features of Canada's national innovation system, and the strong influences exerted upon it by pronounced regional, urban and sectoral variations found across the country. To be effective, a national strategy must reflect these variations and involve relevant actors across all regions and levels of government; else, we risk adding further volumes to our already impressive collection of policy documents. Place: Senior Combination Room, Trinity College, 6 Hoskin Avenue Time: Thursday, April 16th 2009 at 1:00 PM All students, faculty, and members of the general public are welcome.