Conclusion - Relevance/Alignment with Government Priorities
ACOA’s Innovation sub-activity and the funding programs that support it (i.e. AIF and BDP) are relevant, addressing a demonstrated need, and aligned with Government of Canada priorities, strategies and outcomes related to innovation. Limited private sector capacity to invest in large scale R&D means that federal programs such as the AIF and BDP are needed to address the gaps that exist in the Atlantic innovation system. Moving forward, there is a need for ACOA to expand its innovation strategy to reflect the evolution of its programming, particularly with respect to the increased focus on commercialization activities.
Recommendation : 1
ACOA plays a key role in fostering an innovative climate in the Atlantic Region. The evaluation has identified best practices and opportunities leading to the following recommendations to further ACOA’s innovation strategy. ACOA should:
Review its approach to cluster development, taking into account best practices identified in this evaluation, and utilizing the synergies that exist among the various components of the Atlantic innovation system.
Management agrees that the Agency should review the role it plays in the development of strategic clusters, in order to leverage existing infrastructure and build on areas of strength. To date, over 150 AIF projects, accounting for just under $400 million in ACOA funding, have augmented the development of the emerging clusters of aquaculture, IT, health and medical/ biotechnology, and energy/oceans technology. Indeed, projects in IT, health and medical/biotechnology, and energy/oceans technology clusters complement the NRC's Atlantic cluster initiative.
ACOA will form a working group to review the Agency’s role in cluster development. The group, drawing on regional and head office programs and policy expertise, will determine the appropriate terms and scope of the review. Subsequent results will be implemented as appropriate.
Responsibility: Regional and Head Office Enterprise Development Directors in collaboration with Director General Policy
Terms and scope of review established by June 30, 2010. Review completed by March 31, 2011.
Recommendation : 2
The Agency should further develop its commercialization strategy , taking into account results achieved as well as the challenges which are hampering commercialization efforts in Atlantic Canada.
Management agrees that the Agency should review the progress of its pilot Commercialization Initiative, and combine lessons learned with the findings of this evaluation to renew its commercialization strategy.
ACOA will task its Senior Management Commercialization Committee with renewing the Agency’s commercialization strategy. The group, drawing on regional and head office programs and policy expertise, will incorporate lessons learned from the pilot Commercialization Initiative and policy input on commercialization challenges in Atlantic Canada into the strategy.
Responsibility: Director General, Enterprise Development in collaboration with Director General, Policy and Regional and Head Office Enterprise Development Directors
March 31, 2011
Conclusion 2 - Success/Effectiveness
ACOA has been successful in investing in R&D, enhancing productivity/ commercialization capacity, and fostering partnership/collaborative arrangements. Collectively, activities undertaken in each of these key areas are helping to strengthen innovation and commercialization capacity in Atlantic Canada.
Recommendation : 3a
Build on the effectiveness of its current innovation strategy and supporting activities by:
strengthening the performance management strategy for the Innovation sub-activity by identifying consistent measures for AIF and BDP performance information where appropriate, such as incremental sales and profits resulting from commercialization;
Management agrees that ACOA should explore appropriate shared measures for BDP and AIF and integrate these into its performance management strategy for the Innovation Program Sub-Activity.
The Innovation Data Collection Committee, with representation from regional and head office Programs staff as well as from Corporate Planning and Performance Measurement Unit, will be tasked with developing appropriate shared indicators to measure the performance of AIF and BDP innovation projects. These indicators will be included in the Agency’s Performance Measurement Strategy and implemented for April 2011.
Director, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Business Skills Development in collaboration with Director, Programs
November 30, 2010
Conclusion 3 - Cost Effectiveness/Value for Money
The ACOA Innovation sub-activity, through the support of the AIF and the BDP, is considered to be effective and is providing value for money. These results provide validation that the activities undertaken by ACOA in support of innovation are effective, while emphasizing their need for further development. The effectiveness of the Innovation sub-activity can be improved by strengthening the existing performance management strategy related to the sub-activity.
Recommendation : 3b
performing a needs assessment for BDP innovation funding for contributions between $250,000-$1 million;
Management agrees that ACOA should examine the factors surrounding the limited number of BDP innovation projects between $250,000 and $1 million, and determine an appropriate response.
ACOA will examine both the internal and external factors influencing the limited number of BDP innovation projects between $250,000 and $1 million. Subsequent results will be implemented as appropriate.
Director, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Business Skills Development in collaboration with Regional Enterprise Development Directors
December 31, 2010
consolidating the various components of ACOA’s innovation strategy into one holistic strategy document.
Management also agrees that while ACOA has implemented a comprehensive innovation strategy through its broad based programming, the Agency should consolidate the various components of its strategy into a holistic strategy document and communicate it to its partners, clients and stakeholders.
The Agency will consolidate the various components of its innovation strategy into a holistic strategy document. This will be a joint effort involving Policy and Programs staff, along with support from Communications.
Director General, Policy in collaboration with Director General, Enterprise Development and Regional and Head Office Enterprise Development Directors
June 30, 2010
Address concerns raised for processes and contracting times, by reviewing the effectiveness and efficiency of its processes, and based on this review, taking appropriate action
Management agrees that ACOA should conduct a review of the effectiveness and efficiency of its AIF processes. The AIF Management Committee conducts “post-mortem” reviews after each round of AIF to share lessons learned and identify opportunities for improvements. Examples of improvements implemented to date include the Letter of Intent and project readiness concept, both of which have led to a more efficient use of internal resources and have allowed the Agency to be more responsive to the needs of its clients.
ACOA will review the effectiveness and efficiency of its AIF processes (e.g. application, assessment and contracting) by comparing itself against similar R&D funding programs and consulting with stakeholders. Subsequent results will be implemented as appropriate.
AIF Management Committee
Review Completed by March 31, 2011. Results to be implemented in future AIF funding rounds.