On the Cusp of Canadian Competitiveness

Canada has been busy.

This year, Budget 2017 announced the creation of an updated intellectual property (IP) strategy. The announcement signals the Canadian government’s recognition that a more effective IP framework is critical to stimulating Canada’s global competitiveness.

As Canada formulates its IP strategy, it’s important to consider how these changes might affect the country.

According to a new study, these changes have the potential to boost business as usual and deliver a host of socio-economic benefits at the top of Canada’s domestic agenda, like job creation and economic growth.

The study, Spotlight on Canada: The Relationship Between IP and Economic Competitiveness, builds upon the data in the U.S. Chamber 2017 International IP Index, taking a closer look at the relationship between an economy’s income level, innovation output, and levels of IP protection. Spotlight on Canada examines the potential for growth should Canada raise its IP protection standards to meet those of its economic peers.

Canada currently performs well on a number of the correlations examined in the Index, including access to venture capital, overall business climate, and quantity of clinical trials. So it is important to consider how many more economic benefits Canada could receive, should the government strengthen its IP framework.

Currently, Canada is the weakest performing developed OECD economy included for study in the Index; Canada’s scores are closer to the scores of middle-income economies like Malaysia and Mexico. Other reports benchmark Canada similarly.

The World Bank, for example, measures the amount of income generated by IP-based assets in countries. Canada’s amount of income generated by IP-based assets amounts to 0.26% of its total estimated economic output. Canada’s economic peers derive much higher levels of income, as high as 2.86% of GDP in Switzerland.

The World Bank also records countries’ IP-based asset level growth matrices. In 2000, Canada’s level of IP-based income (not standardized for GDP or population) was roughly the same as Switzerland’s level of IP-based income at just under USD2.5 billion. While Canada’s IP-based income level did grow to reach more than USD 4.1 billion by 2015, Switzerland’s IP-based income level skyrocketed to over USD14 billion by 2015.

This data isn’t presented as admonishment.  It’s presented as a glimpse into what’s in store for Canada.

This data suggests that Canada, once it has established a healthy IP environment, will soon reap the benefits it has seen its economic peers reap in its place.

As the study dictates, Canada can look forward to increased innovative outputs, increased access to cutting-edge clinical research, high-value job creation, increased research and development expenditure and foreign direct investment, and increased access to advanced technologies.

These socio-economic benefits aren’t the product of a strong economy – Canada already boasts one of the strongest economies in the world. These socio-economic benefits are the product of a strong IP system.

To conclude: yes, Canada has been busy.

Other countries better get busy, too, because Canada is poised to take its place on the leaderboard of global innovation economies.

Kelly Anderson is senior manager of international intellectual property policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center. 

Subscribe for updates from GIPC