May 01, 2019

New report by Rideau Hall Foundation cites diversity as biggest influence on Canada’s “culture of innovation”

First-of-its-kind survey explores how Canadians feel about their country’s innovation culture

May 1, 2019 – OTTAWA, ON – Today the Rideau Hall Foundation released Canada’s Culture of Innovation Index, the first survey to specifically measure the state of Canada’s culture of innovation and the key factors that foster it. The first-annual report equips Canadian organizations, institutions and policymakers with information to make better decisions about how to expand and strengthen Canada’s culture of innovation.

“A culture of innovation is one where the general public has shared values and beliefs that innovation is essential for collective well-being,” said the Right Honourable David Johnston, 28th Governor General of Canada and Chair of the Rideau Hall Foundation. “It speaks to the societal conditions that foster innovation and reflects Canadians’ willingness to be innovators, their awareness of and attitude toward Canadian innovations.”

The results show that Canada has a healthy culture of innovation, and notes exposure to different cultures and ethnicities is both highly valued among Canadians and considered a particular strength of Canada’s innovation culture. When asked the open-ended question of what aspect of our national identity makes Canada uniquely innovative, 1 in 3 respondents said “diversity”. Canadians see innovation as an engine for the common good, making people healthier, creating economic growth, and contributing to a cleaner environment.

Despite the positive results, there is still work to do. Only 27 per cent of respondents included Canada in the top three countries creating a culture of innovation. One possible reason for this could be a perceived lack of media coverage about Canadian innovation. Two in 3 Canadians say they follow business news at least once a week, but only 1 in 5 say they have seen news about Canadian innovations in the past month. Another challenge could be Canadians’ reluctance to take risks. Respondents see risk tolerance as an important aspect of creating a culture of innovation, but the majority believe that Canadians are risk averse.

“We must harness the power of diversity and collaboration, especially at the local level, to foster innovation, and we need to create opportunities for the younger generations – exposing them to different cultures, arts and sciences, and leveraging their passion and positive outlook to help them become future leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Barbara Gibbon, Director, Innovation, Rideau Hall Foundation.

 

Other key findings from Canada’s Culture of Innovation survey include:

  • Half of Canadians feel it is government’s responsibility to foster innovation in Canada, followed by universities and think-tanks (46 per cent), and individuals (37 per cent).
    • Of those responsible for fostering innovation, women place more responsibility on government and less responsibility on business.
  • Almost three-quarters of Canadians see innovation starting at the local level, and they consider their communities to be more innovative than the healthcare system, non-profits, education, and government.
  • Gen Z (ages 18-25) stood out as the most hopeful generation. They believe more strongly than any other generation that Canada is creating a culture of innovation. Gen Z are also most likely to look to individuals to foster innovation and see a balance between the private and public sectors in terms of capacity for innovation.

 

How the survey was conducted

Based on a literature review of more than 50 academic papers, government and think tank white papers, and other sources, six dimensions of culture were identified as being highly correlated to innovation: diversity, collaboration, risk tolerance, openness to technology, creativity, and curiosity. Maru/Blue administered an online survey in both French and English to a sample of 2,000 Canadians in January 2019, measuring their attitudes across these six dimensions.

Canadians are encouraged to explore the survey results at www.rhf-frh.ca/innovation-index.

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For more information on Canada’s Culture of Innovation survey:

Mélanie Béchard, Rideau Hall Foundation
melanie.bechard@rhf-frh.ca
613-914-0651

Brooke Anderson, Edelman
brooke.anderson@edelman.com
613-690-4408

 

About the Rideau Hall Foundation

The Rideau Hall Foundation is a registered national charity that brings together ideas, people and resources to enhance the impact of the Office of Governor General as a central institution of Canadian democracy. Working towards a better Canada, the RHF celebrates what is best about Canada while working with partners to meaningfully improve lives and foster the conditions for more Canadians to succeed and thrive. The RHF’s work spans four key programmatic areas and challenges for Canada, including: (1) learning initiatives that strive for excellence and promote equality of opportunity; (2) strengthening Canada’s culture of innovation, (3) widening the circle of giving and volunteering; and (4) investing in Canadian leaders with transformative potential.