Evaluation of Innovation for Western Economic Diversification

The Strategic Review Group Inc, is conducting an Evaluation of Western Economic Diversification’s (WD) Innovation activities.  These activities involve investing in the following areas:

  1. Technology adoption and commercialization: promoting technology adoption and commercialization in the marketplace
  2. Technology linkages: increasing connections among innovation system members
  3. Technology research and development: developing new technologies with commercial potential
  4. Community innovation: increasing technological capacity in communities
  5. Technology skills development: increasing the number of highly qualified workers through training
  6. Knowledge infrastructure: increasing the physical assets and capacity of a cluster

The purpose of the Evaluation is to assess the extent to which the department’s innovation programming strengthens the knowledge-based economy and contributes to developing and diversifying the western Canadian economy.

A major part of the Evaluation involves interviewing and surveying the following groups of organizations and individuals:

  • Recipients of WD Innovation support,
  • Non-recipients,
  • Declined applicants,
  • Funding partners,
  • Innovation experts, and
  • WD management and staff.

The Evaluation’s interviews will examine questions in the following areas:

Relevance – The continued need for Innovation programming

Performance – In terms of the efficiency and economy of the programming

Performance – In terms of how well the programming is achieving its intended outcomes

Useful Background:

Innovation is one of five activities supporting Western Economic Diversification’s (WD’s) strategic outcome of a developed and diversified western Canadian economy. The department’s website states that “innovation is the process of transforming knowledge into new products, processes and services which, in turn, generate new economic benefits. For this process to succeed, a complete system must be available that supports the movement of a new idea from initial concept, through research and development, to a ready-for-market product. A highly developed innovation system, or “cluster”, is focused on a specific area of strength and includes:

  • Universities, research facilities, industry, government labs, and other “knowledge infrastructure” that develop new technologies and a skilled workforce,
  • Early stage venture capital financing to help bring technologies to markets,
  • Industry associations and other organizations that link the players in the innovation system,
  • Firms capable of developing and adopting new technologies, and that are connected to local and global markets, and
  • A business environment that fosters innovation.”

Intended Outcomes:  Over time, WD’s Innovation activities are intended to achieve the following outcomes:

  • A strengthened innovation system in Western Canada
  • Increased technology development, adoption and commercialization
  • Further development of technology clusters
  • People complete and incorporate training
  • Research is shared and used
  • Western firms innovate to create wealth

And ultimately achieve the following longer-term outcomes:

  • Stronger knowledge-based economy
  • Development and diversification of the western Canadian economy