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November 15, 2011

How Tom Jenkins tackles the urgency of innovation in Canada

Tom Jenkins is the dynamic founder of OpenText and when you hear his ideas about how to push Canada, you know why he was able to build OpenText in a growth capital starved environment. He has just concluded the Jenkins Report for the government to understand what role it can play in building businesses. I am grateful that he is giving back. Here is his blog post about how Canada can grow in innovation:
In this series, I discussed the urgency behind stimulating innovation in Canada and how, in particular, innovation in digital media boosts productivity which is a key driver for prosperity. In this blog, I’d like to take this conversation to another level to examine how we as Canadians can do this. How can we build an innovation nation? 
1. We need to tell our stories. There is folklore here and it needs to be shared. The Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) and Canada 3.0 provide platforms for Canadians to tell, share and celebrate our success stories.  Both are laying the foundations for resources for future entrepreneurs, including access to mentors, information about VC funding, success stories, and more. OpenText has facilitated that conversation by powering the CDMN social collaboration platform used during and between Canada 3.0 forums.

Keynote Speech at Canada 3.0, 2011
2. We must shake off a cultural legacy of modesty and an aversion to risk taking.  This calls for a cultural shift. Starting at the elementary school level, we can form strategic programs that encourage future generations to become risk takers, welcome competition, and embrace the unpredictability of entrepreneurship that drives innovation.
3. The time is right to establish and connect communities of practice around innovation. For example, there is a gap in the VC community post dot com meltdown that we as a country need to fill.
4. It’s imperative to continue to invest in business in areas like Research and Development. Along with this investment, we need to introduce the tools and technologies to suppport the new demographic—digital natives—that are entering the workforce. This group will expect to use the same tools in the workplace that they're using at home to access, share, and manage information. Investing in R&D will lead to breakthroughs in business applications of these digital consumer tools, and push Canada to the forefront as a leader in developing breakthrough technologies.
5. Finally, we need to think globally not nationally… all the world is our stage for great accomplishments. It is crucial for Canadian businesses and academic institutions to reframe their perspective to reach beyond North America, and consider themselves competitors in the global economy.
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