I like David Brooks the NYT columnist. This opinion piece he wrote talks about the need for an innovation agenda in the US.
I think there are learnings here for New Brunswick – particularly his talk of promoting regional innovation clusters and government funding for R&D. Imagine if New Brunswick spent 3% of its GDP on R&D. That would be roughly $810 million per year (this is not just government – all spending in the economy on R&D).
We spend 3% of our GDP on potholes but almost nothing on R&D and we wonder why our economy has been stagnant for decades.
I have always wondered why politicians in New Brunswick have avoided supporting R&D like the plague (federal and provincial). The feds spend less on R&D here than any other province in Canada (per capita) and so does the provincial government.
I guess raw politics dictates the potholes and other perceived here and now problems are more important. We also haven’t had a lot of luck turning research into big obvious commercial wins like RIM or some new cancer drug. But it seems to me that is chicken and egg.
By now you should know my opinion. We need to have a sector-based approach to economic development. This approach would have a wide variety of development elements such as workforce, taxation, promotion, physical infrastructure, cluster development, energy policy, R&D, etc. An integrated approach – public and private sectors to make NB one of the best locations in North America to invest in [fill in the blank here].
R&D is an important part of this mix.