Five leading institutions join forces to harness the power of innovation in Atlantic Canada
A remarkable collaboration among five prominent provincial institutions has brought the essential role of innovation into sharp focus as a driving force for the Atlantic Region’s prosperity.
On October 12, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Tech Impact, Ignite, Propel, and the McKenna Institute at the University of New Brunswick came together to organize an educational forum featuring panel discussions, group conversations, a gala reception, and the announcement of the esteemed 2023 Innovate NB award recipients.
These organizations have rendered an invaluable service by underscoring the foundational importance of innovation in shaping a more prosperous Atlantic Region in the 21st century. Their dedication deserves not only commendation but also resounding applause. Despite their diverse organizational structures and missions, they share a common ambition – to propel innovation to the forefront of the public agenda.
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I believe innovation is the most potent driver of the 21st-century global economy. It serves as both the hallmark and the powerhouse propelling this new economic era. Undeniably, innovation has emerged as a vital prerequisite and a fundamental catalyst for economic success and collective well-being in today’s world.
The Atlantic Region must align its economic governance, private sector initiatives, and non-profit organizations toward a dedicated focus on elevating the role of innovation. Atlantic Canada’s economic governance should lead the charge in nurturing innovation across all aspects of human endeavour.
In our modern context, innovation’s profound impact and significant contributions often go unappreciated. But what is innovation, exactly? In simple terms, innovation is a forward-looking response to economic challenges and opportunities. It entails reimagining governance, the economy, and civil society, permeating not only the private sector but also the public sector and non-profit organizations, as well as every facet of human activity.
In this context, the concept of “internetization” emerges as a guiding light, illuminating the path toward harnessing our economic resources for constructive innovation. Internetization, characterized by global outreach combined with electronic connectivity, is reshaping how we interact, redefine governance, empower businesses, and enhance community organizations. It has transformed communication, education, economic transactions, banking, and government services. Notably, this era of innovation is marked by Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has achieved remarkable feats but also presents new challenges.
Innovation is synonymous with efficiency, effectiveness, and progress. Its most vital ingredient is creativity – an ability to think outside the box, change the narrative, and push the boundaries of science and technology. It requires adopting a new collective mindset that strategically deploys innovation to pave the way for a brighter future. It calls for discarding the 20th-century adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and embracing a new formula for success in the 21st century: “If it ain’t broke, improve it.”
Innovation takes various forms – new products, improved products, streamlined processes, enhanced distribution systems, or more cost-effective public service delivery methods. It can result from scientific advancements or the more efficient reorganization of administrative functions. Innovation enhances profitability for businesses, offers a crucial lifeline for the public sector grappling with fiscal constraints, and serves as a modern compass for not-for-profit organizations navigating a challenging funding landscape.
Joseph Schumpeter, the influential economist renowned for his teachings at Harvard University, recognized the centrality of innovation. He viewed innovation as the essential tool for successful entrepreneurship. Innovation and entrepreneurship are inseparable, mutually reinforcing one another. Innovation relies on entrepreneurship to impact the economic landscape, while entrepreneurship thrives on innovation to ensure the profitability of its ventures.
Together, they constitute pivotal forces propelling economic success at the microeconomic level, providing the machinery and fuel powering the new global economy of the 21st century.
The structural process for achieving innovation has evolved significantly over time. Today’s innovation breakthroughs in electronic connectivity, nanotechnology, and space travel typically result from collaborative team efforts, often emerging from government research labs or the R&D departments of multinational corporations. The days of the lone inventor, like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, or Alexander Graham Bell, while illustrious, are increasingly rare in our modern context.
Innovation stands as the modern pathway and foundational building block for shaping a better and more prosperous Atlantic Region. It is a powerful force capable of driving positive change and economic growth. As we recognize the pivotal role of innovation, let us strive to nurture, celebrate, and prioritize it for the benefit of all who call the Atlantic Region home.
Dr. Constantine Passaris is a Professor of Economics at the University of New Brunswick. He is a recipient of the Order of New Brunswick, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal, and a 2023 Innovate NB award.
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