Canada's Digital Compass

Published Jun-12-10

An assortment of innovative ideas to help Canada become a leading player in the digital economy of the future.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Canada

The Story:

Canada's Digital Compass “Thanks to the Web companies that move now can leverage a global pool of talent, ideas, and innovations that vastly exceeds what they could ever hope to marshal internally.” That was USA Today’s technology editor Kevin Maney commenting on the rise of open innovation that has spread far beyond the boardroom of private companies to many other entities.

An ever increasing number of governments and public bodies are also amongst the beneficiaries of an open innovation approach as they look to a broad audience for new ideas and solutions to tough problems.

Importance of Knowledge Brokers

Canada’s Digital Compass competition was an open innovation contest that asked Canadians to help define the nation’s role in the future digital economy. It was the brainchild of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) who approached knowledge broker Cambrianhouse to organize and power the contest.

Knowledge brokers provide the links, expertise and technical know-how to help organizations make the most of their open innovation strategies.

Popular Open Innovation Contest

More than 1,000 digital enthusiasts from all over the country took part in the month-long competition by voting, commenting and submitting their ideas on how Canada can best lead the digital economy of the future in areas such as connectivity, education, media production, policy development, and technology.

This mass participation event will help to inform the government’s digital strategy and it yielded nearly 70 ideas.

Each week participants and an expert panel voted on the most promising ideas from the weekly theme. And submissions covered a number of different topic areas including user-generated media content, digital literacy, and support for digital start-ups.

A panel of judges with a range of industry backgrounds selected the three top ideas in early May 2010.

Open Innovation Winners

First place went to Brady Gilchrist for “World Leadership in Digital Health Care," a collection of ideas on the merger of traditional health care with innovations in digital technology. “Digital Literacy for All Canadians” came in second place, a variety of ideas from Russell Fordham that suggested that Canada can only be a global leader in the digital economy if all her citizens can function and thrive in that environment, with the support of government, educational institutions and businesses.

And third place was awarded to Alan Sawyer for “Implementing Temporary Advertising Tax Credits to Stimulate Canadian-based On-line Video Distribution.” Under this scheme Sawyer contends implementing tax credits for allowable expenditures at Canadian-owned new media content sites would accelerate the growth of new Canadian sites.

Other notable ideas included a government department devoted to innovation, and a copyright model for the digital age.

This exciting open innovation competition provided a focus for the creativity of hundreds of people with sharp ideas on how best to move Canada forward in the digital age. And though the contest is over it has a life far beyond the few weeks of frenzied activity, as debate and discussion continues.

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