How can British Columbia draw on its strengths to build a vibrant, diverse economy, one that produces rewarding employment opportunities and rising incomes for the people who work and do business here? Scholars and leading international organizations agree that the best route to sustained prosperity is by developing a highly productive economy.
In this paper, the Business Council outlines some suggestions to harness the power of innovation to drive productivity and business growth in British Columbia. In doing so, we take note of a number of recent provincial government actions aimed at furthering similar goals, including the recent #BCTECH Strategy and the discussions that took place at the #BCTECH Summit in early 2016.
Drawing on advice from a group of BC business leaders, and emphasizing the need to encourage enterprise growth as an important government policy objective, this paper provides recommendations under the following headings:
- Make innovation a priority on a whole-of-government basis, work to establish a policy and economic environment that stimulates innovation in the province, and collaborate with the federal government to develop a coordinated approach to realize the goal of an innovation-led economy.
- Connect BC businesses to global markets to help more of them export and grow into larger enterprises.
- Use public sector procurement to spur innovation and business success.
- Ensure a ready supply of skilled and educated talent to support innovation, economic diversification and business growth.
- Leverage BC’s strengths in health-related research, health data, life sciences and some areas of healthcare delivery to create an innovative healthcare system and help to develop a commercially successful health innovation cluster in the province.
- Revisit and modify elements of business tax policy to ensure closer alignment with the imperatives of an innovation-led economy.
Achieving success in these areas will require a coordinated approach. Government needs to set the appropriate policy frameworks, continue to invest in education and skills development, adopt smart tax and immigration policies, and be a catalyst for positive change. The private sector increasingly will have to adopt innovation as a business strategy and look to markets beyond British Columbia and Canada to grow. And our universities, colleges and training institutions must educate the next generation of discoverers, innovators, entrepreneurs and skilled employees. Working together, we can make progress in building a more productive economy…one that supports well-paying jobs and generates the resources necessary to finance high-quality public services and programs.