2015 Innovation Highlights

1. Launched the first cohort of Spark School for Innovation by Design (SSID) in partnership with the Innographer

2. Refined the Play, Learning and Innovation pillars to engage our community in critical issues of Energy Sustainability

3. Expanded these pillars in our work with educators, via SHIFT Lab teacher training

Looking Ahead

1. Increase the number of cohorts of SSID and continue to refine this executive-style offering

2. Expand Energy Sustainability programs and exhibits, reaching and engaging more of our community in a deeper dialogue

3. Identify other opportunities to grow "family innovation capital" as both a site for families and a site that embraces innovation culture, via long-range strategic planning

Innovation

By: Jennifer Martin, CEO, TELUS Spark

The Canadian innovation ecosystem is already strong and healthy, if, however, rather dissatisfying.  As noted by Dan Breznitz of the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto, Canada’s public spending on business innovation as a percentage of GDP is higher than Finland, Israel and Germany.  Over the past two decades our ability to invent is up from “good” to “excellent” indicating strength in ideas and application, yet we seriously lack in commercialization.  And the evidence of global impact from our national innovation capacity is clear, but perhaps too much of that is from Canadians now living in the United States.

There is a false narrative of cultural inferiority in Canada; that we are too comfortable or complacent to be strong innovators.  This is tempered by many policy-related calls to action, which tend to focus on treating the symptoms rather than the “disease”.

Breznitz suggests that we need to strengthen the Canadian “agents” of innovation – the companies and the people who actually do innovate.

What does innovation look like?  How does it feel?  How do we support it?  Why is it valuable?  And, what might families have to do with national innovation?

TELUS Spark believes that the attitudes, skills and behaviours to be innovative – solving problems, generating and communicating ideas, working collaboratively with others, and taking risks/accepting and learning from failure – can be learned.  This skill development is at the heart of our 21st century science centre.

Innovation fluency in our culture, our schools, and our businesses can change our collective prosperity.  Fluency, not merely literacy, ensures the ability to experiment, practice and build the skills and patterns of mind to innovate.  Practical talent-fostering approaches have been developed and are being provided by TELUS Spark to mid-career professionals and families. 

Equally important to fluency is the “family innovation capital” – the family understanding of, and relationship to, science, technology and innovation – that can shape the likelihood of how children see potential careers in these areas as desirable and attainable.  The extent to which we value, encourage and foster innovation in our families, and of which science is woven into the everyday life of our families has a measurable and significant impact on our community for generations to come.

Fostering “innovation capital” in our national culture and our national identity is possible.