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Canadian Science Policy Centre | Panel 204 - The Logic of Inclusive Innovation: From Inputs to Outcomes

Panel 204 - The Logic of Inclusive Innovation: From Inputs to Outcomes

Conference Day: 
Day 1 - November 7th 2018
Takeaways and recommendations: 

The Logic of Inclusive Innovation: From Inputs to Outcomes

Organized by: OCAD University, Robert Luke

Speakers: Dominique Bérubé, Vice-President, Research Programs, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; Ken Doyle, Executive Director, TechAccess Canada; Malavika Kumaran, Research Manager, MaRS Data Catalyst; Dori Tunstall, Dean of Design, OCAD University

Moderator: Robert Luke, Vice-President, Research & Innovation, and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies, OCAD University

Takeaways and recommendations

  • Inclusive innovation requires inclusive and diverse inputs and activities, including a robust pipeline of R&D and S&T, funding, and capacity to bridge cultures in different sectors. It also needs people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines doing diverse activities using diverse approaches and methods.

  • Inclusive innovation means focusing on the full spectrum of innovation outputs, not only easily-measurable metrics like patents and publications.

Diversity influences innovation

  • Black communities, Indigenous communities and People of Colour (BIPOC) come from distinct social and political contexts, have different relationships with the land, and have varied histories within Canada, including their experiences with assimilation.

  • Communities are not homogenous. They include people and groups with different experiences, cultures and worldviews. Understanding these differences will help to define each group’s challenges and potential solutions.

  • Expand the definition of diversity beyond BIPOC (e.g., the specific challenges facing Indigenous women, as opposed to Indigenous people or women in general).

  • Consider other diverse factors such as language, geography and age.

  • Language matters. Terms like “new” or “disruptive” innovation may have a negative connotation for some BIPOC people (“colonialism 2.0”?)

  • Innovation can be driven by cultural continuity or a desire for cultural continuity.

  • More traditional ways of knowing can drive innovation.

  • Diversity was initially viewed as a complement to excellence. Evidence now shows that diversity is essential to achieving scientific excellence.

  • Research needs meaningful engagement with diverse stakeholders from the beginning.

A sense of belonging is essential

  • Women, LGBTQI+ and BIPOC often feel a much lower level of inclusion and belonging in their workplace, which can lead to them resigning.

  • Employees must reflect on their practices and learn about and take action on feelings of belonging for employees.

  • Institutions supporting entrepreneurs should work to build up diverse networks of talent, mentors and expertise.

  • One individual within an organization is not able to speak on behalf of an entire marginalized group. This can also lead to burnout and contribute to their sense of otherness if they are continually called on as the so-called diverse perspective.

  • Rather than hiring one Indigenous person, for example, hire many to ensure more diverse perspectives are heard.

  • In addition to employment, organizations should look for other opportunities to connect with diverse communities.

Diversity is about more than setting targets

  • Diversity should be built into an organization from the ground up; it should be embedded in its mission, recruitment efforts, culture, etc.

  • Driving diversity comes from understanding the challenges of BIPOC people and women, respectful community engagement and collaborations, valuing diverse spaces and ideas, transparency in operations, building relationships, and activities that facilitate an understand and respect for the multiplicity of a person’s identity.

  • Technology Access Centres (TAC), for example, did not use targets to build a diverse team and a diverse group of users. Instead, centres were organized in a way that allowed diversity to occur naturally. Good practices include:

    • They are “partner agnostic” and will serve any innovator or entrepreneur who asks.

    • They collaborate with all players in the innovation ecosystem including industry, government labs, private labs, universities, etc.

    • They work on whatever issues are of economic importance.

    • They hired their team based on merit and a diversity of skills as everyone must play many roles within the organization.

    • They recognize that a variety of perspectives are needed to solve clients’ innovation challenges.

    • TAC teams engage in demand-driven, applied research.

Increasing access to capital

  • Women are consistently unfunded and/or underfunded and under supported in gaining access to capital.

  • The federal government is addressing this challenge with targeted funding (e.g., $1.4 billion over three years in financing for women entrepreneurs through the Business Development Bank of Canada).

  • New funding will only be effective if the biases are removed from funding processes and innovation policies.

Changes are happening at the top

  • Several Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives related to science were included in the 2018 federal budget

  • Two catalysts have driven EDI changes at the granting councils over the past decade:

    • Diversity targets for the Canada Research Chairs program were put in place following a 2006 ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. But most universities failed to meet those targets, which were guidelines rather than requirements.

    • In 2016, the federal government implemented an EDI action plan, turned the guidelines into requirements, and changed “aspiration” targets to ones with hard deadlines and funding consequences if targeted are not met.

  • Positive change is happening, but more work is needed. Government needs to be transparent in its processes as it moves forward on this issue.