Rohinton P. Medhora Introduces CIGI’s ‘Innovation Series’

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There is concern in the country that we are creating a lot of start-ups and that there’s a lot of buzz and activity and action around ideas. The critique is that these ideas are not blossoming fully and are not becoming what in the business are called “unicorns” — that is to say, massive
national, if not global, enterprises with a market value that is commensurate. And the usual example that is given currently is Shopify;
a generation ago it would have been RIM/BlackBerry. This is an issue. It is one of the package of questions
that goes with why this series is being designed; it is one of the package of issues that goes with
why productivity has been stagnant in the country. Productivity was here in 1985. It then kind of went up, down and all over, but if you
pin it again in 2015, it’s almost exactly where it was in ’85. Thirty years ago, trade in goods and services is
what drove things both nationally and internationally. Now it is much more ideas, and the statistic that
sticks in my mind about this is that a generation ago the [Standard & Poor’s] S&P 500 was primarily comprised
of value in tangibles — almost two-thirds, if not more. Today it’s the opposite — the value of firms and the value of
intangibles on the S&P 500 is two-thirds and growing. Invention and innovation now requires a lot of investment, financial
investment, it requires a lot of institutional capacity, and so we recognize that inventors and innovators,
whether they’re individuals or whether they’re firms, have the right to recoup their costs and in fact benefit from their brainwave. I hope that this series adds to the very rich
discussion we’re already having in Canada on what constitutes innovation and how
innovation can connect with prosperity. We at CIGI hope that this series adds to that discussion, enriches it and gives us new ways of thinking about something that is going
to be key to the future of this country and its prosperity.


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