Canada’s Innovation Budget / Superclusters

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the 2017 budget included an Innovation and Skills Plan.   This is a bold and visionary plan for the development of the country.   It is driven by concerns for the stability of the USA as a long-term trading partner and focuses on building the necessary assets required to be a leading country in tomorrow’s global innovation economy.   The future state plan is multi-faceted targeting major investments in the development of their ecosystem around six superclusters and emerging industries.   It also incorporates the building of new education offerings around lifelong learning for both the current workforce and next generation of students and workers.  While many regions around the world are working on their regional cluster strategies,  this marks a leading trend of county-wide strategies targeting the development and integration of cross-region assets into superclusters.
Here is a quick summary of the budget announcement.
Proposed industry efforts include:
  • $950 million CAD ($709.8 million USD) over five years to develop superclusters in six key national industries:
  1. advanced manufacturing
  2. agri-food
  3. cleantech
  4. digital industries
  5. health/bio-sciences
  6. clean resource
    (+ 7. emerging AI cluster)
  • $50 million CAD ($37.4 million USD) to launch Innovative Solutions Canada.  This is a government procurement program modeled after the United States’ Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
  • $400 million CAD ($298.9 million USD) over three years to help drive investment in growth-stage companies. Through the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI), the Business Development Bank of Canada would make late stage venture capital deals with the intent of stimulating co-investment from the private sector.  The government hopes to unlock nearly $1.5 billion CAD ($1.1 billion USD) in private sector investments through these efforts.
Proposed education and research efforts include:
  • $3.1 billion CAD ($2.3 billion USD) for research and research training – e.g., scholarships, fellowships, research grants, and support for the overhead costs associated with federally funded research conducted in post-secondary institutions.
  • $741 million CAD ($553.3 billion USD) for investments to accelerate infrastructure projects at universities and colleges and affiliated institutions through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.
  • $340 million CAD ($253.9 million USD) in planned support for equipment and facilities for post-secondary institutions, research hospitals, and other not-for-profit institutions.
  • $158 million CAD ($118 million USD) for several of the country’s public-private partnerships such as Mitacs, Genome Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Stem Cell Network, the Institute for Quantum Computing, Brain Canada and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Proposed Workforce efforts include:
  • $454.4 million CAD ($339.3 million USD) over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $46.3 million CAD ($34.6 million USD) per year thereafter, to help Canada’s middle-class workers find and keep good jobs.
  • $225 million CAD ($168 million USD) over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $75 million CAD ($65 million USD) per year thereafter, to establish a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada.
  • $221 million CAD ($165 million USD) over five years to fund up to 10,000 work-integrated learning placements for post-secondary students and graduates each year.
  • $186 million CAD ($138.9 million USD) would be provided to support other, unspecified research and development and related scientific activities in the higher education sector.
  • $7.8 million over two years to implement a new visa program that would allow certain skilled workers to obtain a work permit.
  • $50 million CAD ($37.4 million USD) for a new initiative – Coding Kids. The new two-year initiative would help teach Canadian children how to code to help prepare them for future IT-related careers.

 

See images of the announcement in the international gallery

Stay tuned to follow the progress of this initiative and more to come on cluster development and supercluster integration.

 

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St. Thomas Risk Leadership Program

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I had the opportunity to meet with Faculty from the University of St. Thomas Opus School of Business to discuss the work I have been doing in corporate innovation and in the area of building regional innovation ecosystems.   The meeting also gave me a chance to learn more about the school’s new programs and actives in the area of Risk Leaders.   The initial meeting identified a wide number of areas of interest and overlap in these areas of work with future meetings planned to explore synergies.
Check out Risk Leadership ( https://www.stthomas.edu/risk_leadership/ )
**** Update:
Cheval Partners now has a team member on the Risk Leadership Advisory Board
Photo Galleries:

Online Education Platforms

9e2e0990-b941-4ff6-90d8-d3ba2542f487I participated in the CxO roundtable webinar focused on Online Education Platforms.   The conversation was a great sharing of experiences of various universities experiences evaluating and using these platforms to support their online education programs.   I have had multiple exposures to designing programs for online platforms from working at the university to the consulting I have done with universities building programs around innovation centers and regional cluster development.    There is an overwhelming need to build global education communities that can extend the reach of their offerings to students and workforces internationally.   Online programs are both in demand and liked by students/workers that want the flexibility and non-geographic limitations of access to training.
The platforms primarily being discussed on this call ranged from:
  • BlackBoard – Ultra
  • Canvas
  • Moodle
  • D2L Bright Space
Challenges range from:
  • Evaluation
  • Funding
  • Training internal staff
  • Culture shift of faculty
  • Metrics and measurement – definition of success
  • Looking ahead to where today’s trends are heading
The institution on the call are in the early adoption and learning phases being only a few years into their pilots.  Current challenges are similar and tactical in nature.  The conversation will pivot past the “how to” stage and into considering that the full potential and reach of these platforms will vastly exceed the brick and mortar aspects of the institutions that they implement in.
Some key aspects they will need to address in the coming years will be:
  • How institutional funding for new programs will be shifting to online
  • Designing hybrid programs that blend with experiential learning
  • Incorporating cutting edge industry practitioners to assure that online programs remain relevant and updated
  • Running dependable 24/7 IT at global scale ( with what partners)
  • Building retaining the online community past just the courseware
  • Building new strategic partnerships across the globe to create world class / aggregated curriculum
  • Redefining what degree means when your education is coming from many institutions
  • Building students along side workforce
  • Making lifelong learning central to the programs.   Not just the basics, but constant indusry relevancy
  • etc.
These strategic aspects are also at the center of conversations are the development of innovation centers that integrate with many universities and industry partners.   The shift is moving in the direction where the gap between university and industry training is closing and education needs to be integrated directly into the innovation ecosystem of industry and workforce development.

 

Building a Global Workforce

workforce-word-cloudIn working with cities across the globe on economic development, a consistent challenge our team it is consulting on is the continued development of the workforce.   Many cities are already measuring the shortage of skilled talent in their region and can forecast the gap their industries will face.  For young students all around the globe, the current university track is not as clear as it once was in terms of the cost, relevance and value.   This creates quite a dilemma for students and their parents to navigate.  The impact will be significantly felt by industry all over the world who will struggle to successfully operation and compete.   This crisis will involve building new/alternative models that will need to be led by today’s and tomorrow’s industries.

To break down the complexity of this topic let’s highlight a few of the top challenges in this space:

Workforce Gap vs. Next Generation Workforce

Today the metrics already show a growing gap in the skilled workforce needed to support today’s economies.   The existing systems are clearly strained, sluggish and possibly incapable to meet the demand.   This challenge is also compounded by the fact that many of the new job roles and skills (capabilities) in the coming decades are undefined or unknown.  As new industries emerging around natural resources, new energy, healthcare, space, genetics, etc. will require the development of new disciplines, experience, and the ability to create best practices, training, certification. The time gap required to develop these new programs will outpace the demand of these new industries.

Future of Education vs. Today’s Systems

Today’s primary education systems, and especially the university models, are under massive strain financially. Critically important is that they are struggling to deliver on their mission to develop employable graduates with the depth of knowledge and application of that knowledge relevant to today’s industries.  The future workforce also needs to be educated in creative and problem-solving abilities required to be adaptive to meet their career challenges. Many corporations must augment the university education with extensive additional education and expense to onboard new talent.  It is doubtful that the requirements of the industries of the future can be integrated into the strained education systems of today and get a different result.  The path forward will require new alternatives to be created that integrate academic and industry training backed by new funding and organizational models. Today’s model of universities (that have grown to be massive institutions that are not financially viable and ruled by a tenure system) will have to be challenged with a more global consortium model of combined academic fundamentals with industry application.  This also implies that these new global consortiums can provide a global education inclusive of industries and markets and new models of exchange.  Much of the curriculum will need to come from the cutting edge industries that are creating these new frontiers.  Industry will have to fund much of the workforce development, but not through a granting model with no accountability but more aligned with direct global industry internships models where students work and learn throughout their entire education and earn their education and graduate to direct employment.

Degree vs. Life Long Learning

While tomorrow’s workforce can be built with new programs, the current workforce must remain relevant.  New industry talent development models need to create a culture of life-long learning.   Societally we need to shift from thinking about getting a degree at the beginning of your career to having programs that keep you learning throughout your entire career.   As the speed of technology, innovation, and business keep accelerating, the workforce has to be constantly educated.  Thus from the first day of school to the last day of work you are always both working and learning.  This becomes the new norm of what a career is and it is directly integrated into education and employment.  A job is no longer just a job but continued growth opportunity and it is built right into the job roles of the future.

Global Collaboration vs. Going It Alone

Many new industries will arise in different countries around the world, but many of the solutions developed for the global challenges will need to be shared by everyone.   We must build a workforce for the world to be successful as a whole.  Whether you work in the country that is inventing, producing or implementing the solution, the skills will be required to be in all three locations.  Workforce and talent development programs will need to be integrated around the globe in order for new industries to flourish and meet the urgency of some of the shared grand challenges.

Ecosystem vs. Ego-system

North American companies have grown up in a culture of individual corporations making it big and competing against their rivals.  Globally, the notion of collaboration and co-opition are more embraced as many companies pull together to combine resources and compete in markets.   As global companies grow to or exceed the size of today’s leaders, we will see a larger shift to these global co-opition models.  This makes developing your capabilities around researching and engaging your business ecosystem a critical success factor in building tomorrow’s competitive advantage.  It will also be a key underpinning of workforce management and talent acquisition.  In many cases, top talent and capabilities will begin to be shared effectively across organizations.  Those companies that can’t share talent may find themselves isolated, struggling to retain talent, and ultimately be playing competitively against teams of much larger resources and skills.

Independent vs. Employee

There are many increasing trends where individuals are taking the path of being an independent contractor vs. a traditional employee.   Corporations also like the flexibility of leveraging consultants as needed vs. committing to full-time employees with benefits.  It also allows corporations to immediately bring on skills in areas they have not prepared for or an industry disruption where a demand has been created.   Given the speed of business and innovation, this flexibility in talent acquisition can also create an advantage or benefit to the agility needed to compete.   The rise of many online platforms where independents can be found and job needs are posted continues to create a global economy of resources and networks of resources, that can quickly be engaged.  Companies that become the best at leveraging networks of independents and can bring them in and out of their cultures the most successfully will have the advantage in agility and building expert teams on demand.

Manual vs. Automation

The 4th industrial revolution is frequently tied to the increased role of automation and robotics use as a workforce replacement.   While many benefits are gained for industry in the use of automation the concern is that of the human workforce that is displaced.   There are many new industries that will emerge around this shift including the design and development of the robotics and manufacturing systems.   The implementation and maintenance of those systems in operation.  The management and analysis of those systems over their life cycle.   Each of these areas will require the development of a skilled workforce to support the shift.   The challenge arises around the retraining of the existing human workforce either into these new fields or into other job roles.   This effort falls within the lifelong learning topic mentioned above  but has brings an added element of possibly retooling of skillsets.

Current vs. Future Industry

Considering the examples highlighted above, I will pivot the conversation to an opportunity.  These challenges already exist and solutions are already being tried around the world from which we can learn. India, for example, is at the forefront of both environmental grand challenges and industry workforce challenges.  Let’s take a quick look at their situation.

One of the great challenges of India’s economy is in the population growth.  With over 650M under the age of 25 and being on track to hit 1.5B in less than 10 years, India has to create over 50M new jobs for the next 50 years!  On top of that, 70% of those new jobs are not defined yet and will be defined by emerging fields like:

  • 3D printing
  • Nano Technology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual Reality
  • Space ( $70M for India to go to Mars/$200M for the USA )
  • Transportation
  • Driverless Cars
  • Genetics
  • Communication
  • Robots / Drones

These fields are new and will spawn many adjacent industries to support the primary innovations.  They are also high complexity fields that will require an amazing depth of education and lifelong learning as the industries mature. India already knows it can’t solve these challenges alone, but many of the first experiments and programs will be tried here and this makes it a critical market to study as other countries evaluate their options and to see how people are already collaborating.

To gain a deeper insight into the many fronts where India is facing leading challenges, please see my blog that dives more deeply into their situation:   Future of India

The workforce challenges are real and the solutions will take new cultures of collaboration, new models, and cultural shifts to solve them.  I plan on breaking these challenges down further to explore options that are being pursued in different regions and what models are emerging that will disrupt many of today’s systems.

 

 

Economist / Future Work Event Chicago

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I enjoyed listening to the high-level panel discuss at the kickoff of The Economist Future Works,  Jobs in the fourth industrial revolution in Chicago.   The panel was a facilitated discussion the needs and challenges around meeting current and future workforce needs.
Here are some quick notes from the discussion:
  • Diversity is not just demographics.   It is also about decision making and the need to have diversity in decision making.
  • What new leaders need:  More analytical,  more tech savvy,  mindfulness, more empathetic ( most important skill)
  • Professions will be disruptive over time.
  • Machine processes are different than human processes  though the processes can intersect / overlap in some areas
  • 4th industrial revolution:
    • earlier revolutions focused on simple blue collar tasks
    • this is a knowledge revolution
  • Have to reinvent learning at every level throughout people’s lives / careers
  • We will have over 2B children entering the global workforce
  • Entrepreneurial mindset; Comfortable with risk,  creative mindset
  • Have to start teaching people how to create their own jobs
  • Current academic models are not working
    • We have not evolved our content we are teaching
    • We are mass educating people instead of optimizing people
    • Change the teacher role from lecture to coach and the sooner the better
    • The teaching methodologies are completely out of date
    • Overhaul how we train teachers
    • Need better global standards and measurement
    • Students make fear based decisions about career vs. aligning with their strengths
  • Role of digital platforms in education will be critical on a global level
There was some Q&A in the session.   One key area was around the funding to change.   Today most public institutions are struggling with declining funding and yet need to change.  Funding for existing models, that are failing, will have to change so that money can be put into new areas.
I have been involved in this conversation for several years now with cities in the USA and globally.   In my next blog, I will introduce some additional factors involved in this space beyond what was discussed today.  (now posted) Building a Global Workforce
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1st Investor Conversation with Reps from E. Europe / Middle East / Africa

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Our Economic Development Team connected with another group representing investment groups spanning Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Eygpt.
Currently, the conversation is in the exploration stage but interest seems high around innovation services.  Particularly the ability to build out start-up incubation services in key areas of technology critical for these regions.   These services would be used to support US based start-ups and the exchange of international based startups to incubate in the USA all with goals of having commercial potential to solve challenges in their regions.    Most of these technologies around water, energy, agriculture, etc would have applicability around the world so are high priority efforts for many investment groups.
What has been interesting over these past few months of hosting international delegations is not only the similarity of interests in innovation, education, and exchange,  but the vast diversity of how they view investments in different cities in the USA.   Some of the factors that seem to create the variance is determined by:
  1. Where they see the strength, growth/decline,  or emergence of industry clusters in the USA.   Cities with old brands are not attractive and cities with significant international brand and clear economic development plans for the region attract attention.  Note:  This is not always the biggest US cities that have the best plan forward and those plans are not always lead by government agencies but more private economic development companies working collaboratively across the region.
  2. Demographics of the overall region.  How international is the area?
  3. Education opportunities,  what international programs exist or willingness to develop.
  4. Current USA industries working in their region
  5. Current regional government engagement with the international region.   This is more state level vs. federal.  How proactive is has the state been to do outreach and build relationships.
  6. The vibrancy of the startup economy:  The amount of investment corporations or Venture Capitalists had made in their local region.
  7. The personal networks of the investors in partnership with other USA investors.
  8. Willingness to partner in foreign the capital stack between domestic and international money.en
  9. Vetting and background checks of all parties.
  10. Personal networks / history of past business success.
Our next step is to partner with the US Commercial Services to vet these opportunities / sources at this time.

2nd Investor Delegation from SE Asia

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Our Economic Development Team hosted the second delegation from SE Asia this month.   This group was based out of Seoul Korea and represented interests in S. Korea, Philippines, and Malaysia.    The core focus of this conversation focused on international exchange programs around both education and business services.
Business areas included:
  • Professional high-density courses for business professional looking for advanced degrees in various business disciplines.
  • Professional briefing in both industry overviews and global market trends.
  • Professional networking services between nations based on industry focus areas.
  • Professional Industry Immersion experiences.
  • Professional and Student based training in English (  note:  With world legislation around Patents and IP center on English is becoming a critical education path for many countries to support overall workforce development.
  • Student Industry Internships.
  • Student based training in business and vocational professions.
  • Professional and Student based orientation & long term stay services ( prior to many of the services list above )
Many of these services are being implemented in countries across SE Asia as both predatory for their business professionals and students.   The goal is to embed these services in all countries to facility easy exchange and support business activities.  Individual firms in the region have contracted over 14,000 instructors from countries all over the world.
Online services are also a key component of the discussion.    Many of these programs in SE Asia have already built extensive online solutions to support both global-scale through partnerships with large technology and communication vendors.   A key learning was that no vendor provided a comprehensive solution  especially in supporting the diversity of infrastructure found between the most advanced cities and the most remote rural locations.   In most cases best of breed solutions needed to be developed and constantly evolved.
There was really strong momentum around partnership opportunities with the US academic institutions and 3rd party businesses we are working with.    Future meetings are currently being planned to discuss implementation of these services across countries.