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Tax incentives for individual innovators

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 10/27/2016 1477539031
From the airplane and the liquid-propellant rocket, to modern computers, software and social media, many of the technologies that have shaped and cont .... Read more

From the airplane and the liquid-propellant rocket, to modern computers, software and social media, many of the technologies that have shaped and continue to shape our modern world have been the result of individuals, amateurs, and small groups of enthusiasts, often working in their spare time with extremely limited resources, rather than as part of a company.  

Not only does the work of such individuals sometimes lead to significant new technologies and viable companies, it also provides them an unmatched opportunity to develop their own creativity, skills and expertise in a hands-on way that can be of immense benefit in helping them to succeed and contribute to Canada’s economy. 

That success may come directly as a result of an idea they are working on, but it can equally come indirectly, as a result of the experience they have gained and the skills they have developed.  Such self-motivated innovation and experimentation can thus be both a means of developing talent and a means of encouraging innovative work that could lead to new products or companies.  

Yet they tend to face significant obstacles and there tends to be very little support available to them to pursue such work.  If those individuals are only able to pursue their work in their spare time, they may not have the means of incorporating a company and gaining access to the incentives that are available to businesses.

One way the government could lend its support to such self-motivated innovators would be through tax incentives, for example allowing any investments they make related to their innovative activities to be tax-deductible against their primary income, if they do not happen to have their own profitable business to claim it against.  If the costs they incur, for example purchasing a tool or piece of equipment, buying parts to build a prototype or proof-of-concept, taking a relevant course or joining a “hackerspace”, could be used as a deduction against their primary income, this would serve as one practical incentive to encourage and aid them in the pursuit of their work, and would help promote the idea that individuals who take the initiative to engage in their own innovative work and hands-on skills development are actively supporting Canada’s innovative economy and should be encouraged to do so.  

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Enhance business development services to better include social enterprise

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 10/24/2016 1477327141
The opportunity exists to expand access to business services, such as the Canadian Business Network, for various organizational forms - not just those .... Read more

The opportunity exists to expand access to business services, such as the Canadian Business Network, for various organizational forms - not just those with private or corporate ownership. Co-operatives are a good example of social enterprise given their commitment to social responsibility. 

Credit: Momentum Community Economic Development Society

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Promote experiential learning opportunities for students.

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475077911
The best way to ensure more innovation, and resultant economic and social benefits, is to foster the development of more innovators. One effective way .... Read more

The best way to ensure more innovation, and resultant economic and social benefits, is to foster the development of more innovators. One effective way to do this is to provide post-secondary students with real-world experiential learning opportunities throughout the course of their studies. This includes co-operative programs, internships, and course work experiential opportunities.

The Federal support for programs like MITACS should be expanded to increase the opportunities for students in all areas of the country and from all academic backgrounds, working in all sectors of the Canadian economy.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Whole Girl, Whole World through Digital Filmmaking

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 09/23/2016 1474645330
Digital filmmaking has become more pervasive than ever in all areas of life. The influential broadcasting quality of the film medium is apparent on vi .... Read more

Digital filmmaking has become more pervasive than ever in all areas of life. The influential broadcasting quality of the film medium is apparent on virtual platforms like YouTube, where millions of young people view independent films every day. With this distribution power, young women’s perspectives can impact their families, peers, communities, and the world.

Credit: Chantal Drolet

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Collaborations, partnerships and innovation for impact

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/19/2016 1474313214
Canada is not currently a leader in the social entrepreneurship space. As with all types of entrepreneurship, Canadian policies and programs must exis .... Read more

Canada is not currently a leader in the social entrepreneurship space. As with all types of entrepreneurship, Canadian policies and programs must exist to incent investment in entrepreneurial projects, including those that address issues of social importance. Organizations that are applying or contributing their resources to help make a positive social impact and those that contribute to building innovative solutions should be incented and rewarded for doing so.

 

While the video game industry exists primarily to create entertainment products, a number of the innovations developed in the sector can, and have, been utilized to advance research and innovation in other sectors, including health, which have a profound social impact. In essence, the tools developed for entertainment now have serious applications in robotics, sports, physical and mental health treatments (to manage anxiety disorders, depression, grief and PTSD with war veterans).

 

A recent example is the collaborations between Ubisoft Montreal, McGill University, and Amblyotech to tackle the problem of amblyopia, or more commonly known as “lazy-eye.” The condition affects three per cent of children internationally and occurs when the brain favours one eye over the other. The inspired video game Dig Rush, played on a tablet with 3D glasses encourages active focusing and is thought to be five times more effective than the current treatment option of eye-patching.

 

As a driver of social innovation, games have served as invaluable tools in education, helping kids and adults learn the skills needed to participate in the innovation economy. Today, Canada can also boast an active group of academics playing a role in pushing the boundaries of games to new areas. The University of Waterloo’s Games Institute is using games research and technology and applying them to non-game situations, a practice commonly known as gamification.

 

The Games Institute is working with partners such as FlourishiQ to research games and gamification techniques to engage the users of the company’s wearable device in establishing daily insights on wellness data, sleep and other physiological data that can be monitored to improve quality of life. Gamification techniques are being used in games to help users find safe spaces in urban environments while another game, Spirit 50, incentivizes exercise for older adults as they engage with technology. The UpSWinG project in development with collaborators at McGill University use game techniques to engage policy stakeholders in solutions for improving sustainable water governance.

 

If Canada is to remain a leader in innovation, more must be done to focus our efforts on building up the resource that is primarily responsible for innovation — talent/labour. There already exists a global race to drive innovation forward by obtaining the best and brightest talent. to drive innovation forward and create the products and services that change the way we live, work and play. We need to ensure that our industries and University have the policy tools needed to compete on this truly global battleground. The ability to lay claim to those innovators is the only way to compete with other innovation nations around the world. Canada must develop an immigration framework that allows the seamless and efficient movement of highly skilled workers in the technology fields.

 

But targeted immigration isn’t enough. A domestic digital skills training strategy is also key to our continued success. How countries arm their future workers with the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) skills to compete in a global and innovation driven economy will mark the difference between a country that falls behind and a country that prospers and thrives.

 

Other jurisdictions, like the United Kingdom, France and the US already have substantial infrastructure and frameworks to support social entrepreneurship and innovation including policies, legislation, funding and programming, which is available to all sizes of companies and individuals at various stages in their careers that engage in social entrepreneurship, whether directly or indirectly.

 

We encourage the Government to review global solutions in place at present, and consider ways to learn from the strengths of these programs to create and implement a diverse set of programs, incentives and opportunities for Canadians and companies in Canada to innovate and contribute to advancing socially impactful innovations across all sectors and communities.

Credit: Entertainment Software Association of Canada

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Support Experiential and Work-Integrated Learning

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/30/2016 1472566792
At Sheridan, we know learning happens inside and outside of the classroom.  We prepare our students for the future economy through experiential learn .... Read more

At Sheridan, we know learning happens inside and outside of the classroom.  We prepare our students for the future economy through experiential learning (curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular) and work-integrated learning (co-op, internships, practicum, etc) as part of our education.  Students benefit from opportunities where they can practice, experiment, apply theory, make mistakes, and develop employability skills.  These links between curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular develop well rounded students that are flexible, adaptable, and future ready.  We have learned that our mutually beneficial partnerships with employers and industry are critical to successfully providing experiential and work-integrated learning opportunities for our students.

Credit: Sheridan Student Affairs

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Play a Greater Role in International Social Innovation Leadership

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/26/2016 1472223620
Québec's social economy and Canada's co-operative movement are internationally recognized. This fall, Canada is hosting the Global Social Economy For .... Read more

Québec's social economy and Canada's co-operative movement are internationally recognized. This fall, Canada is hosting the Global Social Economy Forum, and the International Summit on Co-operatives, two of the largest conferences in the world on the social economy and co-operatives. Canada's rich social economy and co-operative leadership should be celebrated on the world stage by supporting the participation of Canadian organizations and institutions in international networks such as the United Nations Task Force on the Social Solidarity Economy, the OECD Forum on Social Innovations and others.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, Chantier de l'économie sociale

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Improve Access to Business Development Programs for Co-operatives and Non-profits

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/24/2016 1472057770
Expand the capacity and access to existing small and medium enterprise services through the Canadian Business Network and other federal business devel .... Read more

Expand the capacity and access to existing small and medium enterprise services through the Canadian Business Network and other federal business development programs to enhance business supports and readiness for investment by social enterprises and co-operatives.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Social Enterprise Council of Canada, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, Chantie

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Create Tailored Investment Funds

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/24/2016 1472057641
Contribute to the capitalization of tailored investment funds such as the Co-operative Investment Fund proposed by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, t .... Read more

Contribute to the capitalization of tailored investment funds such as the Co-operative Investment Fund proposed by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, the non-profit social enterprise investment fund proposed by the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, and the social finance fund of funds proposed by the National Impact Investment Practitioners Table.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, Chantier de l'économie sociale, Social Enter

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Use Social Procurement and Community Benefit Agreements for Inclusive Growth

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/24/2016 1472057550
Support enhanced market access for social enterprises and co-operatives by stimulating demand through social procurement policies and community benefi .... Read more

Support enhanced market access for social enterprises and co-operatives by stimulating demand through social procurement policies and community benefit agreements. Initiatives such as Buy Social Canada, L'économie sociale, j'achète, ECPAR and the Toronto Community Benefits Network are leading Canadian examples of this rapidly emerging practice.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Buy Social Canada, Chantier de l'économie sociale, Toronto Community Benefits

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Centralize and disseminate community information

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/23/2016 1471976610
When government departments announce events, initiatives, grants, programs, etc they should submit information into a central database, tagged with us .... Read more

When government departments announce events, initiatives, grants, programs, etc they should submit information into a central database, tagged with user selection filters (eg Heritage,Arts,Science,Aboriginal,Digital,Ontario etc), and dated. Allow Canadians to register and select the tags of interest such that new information is automatically pushed or emailed to interested parties. This way Canadians are proactively informed of news relevant to their needs, instead of finding out by accident, or never, as is most often the case. Searching through myriad government documents scattered over diverse platforms isn't practical. Think Google Alerts system for the Canadian government. Keep us informed EASILY.

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Make work-integrated learning opportunities the cornerstone of the Innovation Agenda

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/09/2016 1470776531
People innovate. Whether it takes the form of a new product, new process, or new markets, the introduction of innovation is done by visionary individu .... Read more

People innovate. Whether it takes the form of a new product, new process, or new markets, the introduction of innovation is done by visionary individuals who see how to do things differently. A successful innovation strategy must therefore start by fostering the talent, skills and opportunities required for potential innovators to thrive.

The need for innovators intensifies as the economy continues to move towards an innovation-focused, high-value service base. Already, Canada’s service economy employs about three quarters of Canadians and accounts for 70.8% of GDP — a 5% increase since 2000. Financial services, environmental services, water-management services, and IT services are all areas where Canada is a world-leader, thanks in part to the innovators who have built world-class firms in these growing sectors.

The trend towards an economy built on innovative services is intensifying as the knowledge economy evolves. We are entering what has been called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” where disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology are quickly transforming the ways we live and work. As a result, the skills Canadians need for career success are also changing, and employers increasingly demand workers with a wide range of skills and functional knowledge.

An effective innovation strategy will respond to these trends by supporting the effective education and training of future innovators. To do so, Canada needs to increase the number of work-integrated learning opportunities for students in order to grow talent and skills, and to prepare the next generation for a rapidly changing economy. In order to “futureproof” a workforce, the World Economic Forum reports that “government and businesses will need to profoundly change their approach to education, skills and employment,” and they recommend enhanced collaboration between businesses, governments and education providers in developing 21st century curriculums.

There are some caveats: students should be paid; the learning opportunities should be relevant; and the experiences should be meaningful. The idea is that the opportunities are collaborative, and mutually beneficial. By connecting young minds with dynamic Canadian businesses, we can grow Canadian talent for innovation, strengthen the employability of post-secondary graduates, and provide businesses with the specialized knowledge, skilled talent and fresh perspectives they will need to adapt and innovate.

If Canada is serious about becoming an innovation leader, we need to make work-integrated learning opportunities the cornerstone of the Innovation Agenda.

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Harness the tools the world has developed to leverage the resource strengths Canada has

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 07/17/2016 1468778831
The National Industrial Symbiosis Program (NISP Canada) is an 11 year old organization out of the UK that is established as one of the best ways to ac .... Read more

The National Industrial Symbiosis Program (NISP Canada) is an 11 year old organization out of the UK that is established as one of the best ways to achieve all the things a country wants. They drive value, by eliminating waste and wastefulness, delivering jobs and revenue for businesses. Then they circle back, and add up the positive environmental impacts. Canada is the 23rd country to join, so the world will be watching! We can leverage the ISED program, with the Environment and Climate Change program, and the AAFC program, by connecting with the 5 ministry team aligned in BC for NISP. Please join them either July 20 or Aug 3 to learn more.

https://nispcanada.com/#post-480

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Social Innovation of Collaborative Commons - to Complement Rapid Technological Innovation

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 07/10/2016 1468165446
Rapid technological advances are both enabling and driving a shift toward Collaborative Commons (CC) as a socio-economic paradigm of the future (see B .... Read more

Rapid technological advances are both enabling and driving a shift toward Collaborative Commons (CC) as a socio-economic paradigm of the future (see Background below). 

Social innovation, parallel to technological innovation, is needed to

  • Maximize the opportunities and benefits for ALL Canadians from CC
  • Minimize the inevitable disruption to lives during  transition to CC
  • Enable graceful transitional or sustained interplay with existing socio-economic models (as needed)
  • Discover the limits and avoid any pitfalls of CC
  • Engender trust among participants in CC
  • Develop a minimally intrusive Canadian regulatory framework to facilitate the above

To that end, the following is recommended:

  • Increase funding for Collaborative Commons academic research in social sciences and economics with the above objectives.
  • Establish a social entrepreneurship fund to support creation of specifically micro Collaborative Commons, and functional elements of Collaborative Commons.  Evaluate results.
  • Hold national events and competitions in Collaborative Commons innovation.
  • Develop prototype regulations relating to Collaborative Commons and run regulatory pilots to discover what works, before enacting (or not) fully into law.
  • Engage Canadians about Collaborative Commons to gather maximum diversity of ideas and input and generally garner buy-in (or not).
  • Collaborate with like-minded democratic states for additional innovation diversity and synergistic global implementation of Collaborative Commons

Background and Why

Society (and economy) is on the cusp of a dramatic disruption due to exponential rise in technological capability.   Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics borne out of radical escalation of compute power, coupled with advances in sensor and communication technologies, and the ubiquity of the Internet have spawned the Internet of Things (IoT).  IoT is resolutely driving us into the Fourth Industrial revolution dominated by cyber-physical systems.  This will not only sharply reduce the need for human labour, it will also increasingly chip away the volume of human intellect and oversight needed.

At the same time, the Web is enabling the sharing economy.  It’s taking hold due to the inherent pull of convenience and cost savings, personal economic necessity, and desire for environmental sustainability.  The latter is also driving the Circular Economy, where materials and energy embedded in end-of-life products are recirculated into new goods and energy.  Both the sharing and circular economies will reduce the total volume of manufactured goods and raw materials needed, again correspondingly reducing the total human labour, intellect and oversight needed.

The double whammy of efficiencies and the reduced need for goods from above will, for many, reduce or eliminate the means for equitable living and ability to retain agency in society and economy.  Under the existing socio-economic paradigms, this concern will only deepen with ongoing technological advancements, further hollowing out the middle class.  The answer is definitely NOT to stall or stop technology.  On the contrary, Canadian technological innovation must forge ahead at full steam to enable us to compete internationally and grow the total national wealth.  However, social innovation must be tapped to enable ALL Canadians to both contribute to and take from the common wealth, and have full societal agency.

Fortunately an emerging “COLLABORATIVE COMMONS” paradigm shows promise as a new socio-economic order – both organically enabled by the Internet of Things, as well as a reaction to its impacts and side effects.  Collaborative Commons (CC) is characterised by open source information, technology and energy; the blurring of consumer vs. producers into prosumers; access to products becoming the norm over product ownership; and rise of the gig economy over traditional employment.  Basically, it’s a society where citizens and organizations openly collaborate to both create common wealth and draw from it.

While ad-hoc CC instances in some sectors are already generating benefits for its constituents, there are still many unanswered questions and challenges going forward.  What are the trade-offs between different CC models and what model(s) work best?  How can trust, which is critical to collaboration, be engendered and supported among participants? What might be some negative side-effects of CC?  How does CC interplay with traditional market economies, what sectors are best suited for CC, and what are the transition timeframes and trade-offs? What regulatory supports are needed to enable, ease transition, and protect against undesired aspects of the CC?  A heavy dose of Social Innovation is needed now to address the unknowns so that civil society can come out whole on the other side of the transition into Collaborative Commons.

This and related topics are skillfully covered by economist Jeremy Rifkin in The Zero Marginal Cost Society, and related works such as The Sharing Economy by Arun Sundararajan, and Makers and Takers by Rana Foroohar.

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More Worker Cooperatives

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 06/23/2016 1466699574
Worker Cooperatives are democratically-run enterprises which have been proven through many studies to be more sustainable than traditional, capitalist .... Read more

Worker Cooperatives are democratically-run enterprises which have been proven through many studies to be more sustainable than traditional, capitalist-owner enterprises.

Because the people who own the business are those that work in the business, they have several advantages to capitalist, top-down enterprises:

  • More likely to keep work in the community where the business is based (and not offshore jobs), as the owners have a direct interest in the community (as they live there)
  • A fair and equitable distribution of profit, therefore enriching local communities instead of shareholders
  • As every worker is also an owner, this brings true democracy and democratic values to the workplace, where adults spend most of their lives.

Cooperatives should be the new standard in business organization. Let's have Canada lead the way!

 

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