Conference Board of Canada report also gives province a B grade on labour productivity

Mario ToneguzziAlberta earned a disappointing D grade overall in the Conference Board of Canada’s How Canada Performs: Innovation report card.

The report, released on Monday, said the province was 19th out of 26 jurisdictions (10 provinces and 16 advanced countries) as well as being behind Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and the Canadian average.

“Our innovation report card once again confirms that Alberta is a province of self-starting entrepreneurs, as it ranks first among the provinces on both entrepreneurial ambition and enterprise entries,” said Paul Preston, director of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at the Conference Board of Canada.

“But low and falling rankings on a number of indicators, including researchers engaged in R&D, venture capital investment, public R&D and business enterprise R&D, leave Alberta near the back-of-the-pack on innovation performance overall.”

Here are the report’s highlights:

  • With 17 per cent of Albertans reporting some kind of early-stage entrepreneurial activity, the province places first among all 26 regions and earns an A+ on entrepreneurial ambition. It also earns an A and ranks first among the provinces on enterprise entries.
  • The province earns a B grade on labour productivity, but falls from third to sixth overall on this indicator. Alberta’s grade on labour productivity continues to benefit from its resource-intensive economy (with resource riches contributing to its higher gross domestic product per hour worked), but its relative performance has slipped.
  • Alberta earns a C for scientific articles, measured as the number of peer-reviewed scientific articles per million population, and for investment in information and communications technology. With investment in information and communications technology of 2.29 per cent as a share of GDP, Alberta ranks 13th among comparator jurisdictions and slightly above the Canadian average of 2.16 per cent.
  • Alberta earns Ds on three other indicators used to assess innovation performance: patents, venture capital investment and public research and development (R&D). With public R&D of only 0.43 per cent of GDP, Alberta ranks 25th among the 26 jurisdictions, ahead of only Ireland.
  • Alberta gets D- grades on researchers engaged in R&D (including researchers employed in business, higher education and government) and business enterprise R&D (BERD). With BERD at 0.59 per cent of GDP, Alberta ranks fourth among the provinces but fares worse than all the peer countries, including the Canadian average of 0.9 per cent.

Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.

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