The release of Budget 2019 yesterday again placed the government’s innovation strategy in the spotlight as the government emphasized its significant spending record, including $950 million for the superclusters, $4 billion for science research, $795 million in 31 strategic innovation fund agreements and $2.3 billion for clean technology support. The investments were highlighted in a recently released an innovation scorecard, Building a Nation of Innovators, which takes stock of the government’s efforts over the past three years. My new CIGI policy brief argues that while the benefits from this spending will take years to realize, increased investments in strategic sectors are the easy part of innovation policy.
Enacting new rules and regulations that support an innovative economy is more challenging. On that front, the government’s record is more modest. The limited intellectual property reforms made to date are aimed at resolving the frustrating administrative processes at the Copyright Board of Canada and are designed to guard against IP misuse. Many other critical innovation policy issues — data governance, copyright reform, privacy modernization, telecommunications regulation — remain works-in-progress, with major legislative changes still years away from enactment.
I argue that there is a link between innovation policy and copyright reform; four reforms, in particular, are both long-overdue and closely-linked to the government’s supercluster approach. These include a text-and-data mining exception – sometimes referred to as an information analysis exception – to support artificial intelligence (AI), flexible fair dealing in support of digital technologies and advanced manufacturing, open government data and the elimination of crown copyright in connection with the ocean supercluster, and the easing of digital lock restrictions that place Canadian agriculture and the protein innovation supercluster at a competitive disadvantage. The full brief can be found here.