The Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils (GFCC) September Global Innovation Summit in Buenos Aires was on the theme of Scaling-up Sustainable Innovative Businesses. This is a theme that is at the core of the challenges for Alberta SME companies that want to grow and be part of the changing dynamics of the so-called “new normal” economy, beyond boom and bust.
The GFCC released an updated “…set of Principles to bolster the upward scaling of innovative and sustainable businesses” aimed at “adapting to critical productivity challenges and opportunities.” The GFCC’s Global Competitiveness Principles are designed as an “overarching framework for national policies and programs aimed at fostering innovation, competitiveness and prosperity in the 21st century.” The Global Competiveness Principles are also closely tied to and aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
However, they adapt well to a provincial context like Alberta’s aspiration to be more competitive, grow our economy and be more sustainably prosperous. These Global Competitiveness Principles can be adapted and applied to the more granular municipal, industry sector and even to the individual business growth strategies as well. They can help in competitiveness by focusing on training, sustainability in natural resource development, intellectual property creation and application, collaboration, wide-spread technology shifts, and effective scale-up entrepreneurship.
There are 10 Global Competitiveness Principles but for brevity, I will deal with a few of the most salient from the Alberta perspective.
Be the Disruptor, Not the Disrupted!:
Boosting productivity through applying new exponential technologies and making innovation central to your business model is the way to thrive not merely survive in the new normal economy. Small and Medium sized companies can leverage new technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Advanced Materials, 3D Printing, Automation and Robotics and so forth. In fact, the major corporations, that are the SME’s source of business, are adapting rapidly include these exponential technologies into their project plans. SME’s, especially in our energy, manufacturing and logistics sectors can tap into the opportunity to increase business with more efficiency, productivity and profitability, if they are early adopters and adapters.. These learnings can create enormous opportunities for business expansion, including globally, with the benefits of the various new trade-based export agreements.
Rethinking Regulations Could Support Business Investment and Scale-Up:
There are significant and legitimate industry concerns on the costs of regulation, in both compliance and project approval timing delays, that negatively impact investment competitiveness is often a benchmarking comparison between jurisdictions that considers both government and industry aspects. Industry accountability for uncertainty must also be factored in due to the boom and bust consequences of Alberta’s reputation for poor project performance in on-time and on-budget delivery. collaborations could enable a o-creation of enabling rigorous and practical regulations that enhances investment, not stifles it. We could bring in some design thinking and develop a protective regulatory regime with more meaningful, clear and relevant and timely compliance metrics that are more project enabling than delaying. Alberta’s industrial construction sector is small enough to be agile and nimble, creative enough to experiment and with enough talent, infrastructure and institutional capacity to be a global leader in this growth enhancing collaborative approach.
Making Innovation the Centerpiece of Growth Strategies:
If you want to build a future-oriented economy that is responsible, sustainable, resilient and smart, you must be looking for and creating innovation opportunities that solve real and substantial business problems. Policy frameworks can catalyze, and reward development based on new ideas and technologies and ensure we have competency-based 21st century workforce skills training. That means keeping an eye on the changing nature of innovation, especially around skill requirements, exponential technologies, new management tools, collaborative business models and process changes can all deliver better bottom lines.
Innovation Ecosystems and Coalitions Build Better Businesses:
Competitive innovation ecosystems thrive in regulatory frameworks that promote public-private participation. Talent must be developed in both the public and private spheres where critical thinking, evidence-based decision making. We need to develop better skills for working collaboratively in complex projects and systems that cross boundaries and bridge cultures. Pooling resources, developing adaptable talents, connecting through applied innovation, life-cycle budgeting for building and operating projects and better procurement approaches with continuous learning as a business culture, is the new foundation for success in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 world.
There is much more that I could say but you can learn more at the links below. If Alberta, Western Canada, and the rest of the country is going to be globally competitive we need to develop a global mindset. The GFCC Global Competitiveness Principles can become a toolkit to expand our horizons and grow our economy much beyond North America.
We have had great 20th century advantages selling our raw resources and most of our manufacturing into the United States market. With the forthcoming revisions of NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the we now have the trade tools to expand into more international markets. What we need is the business mindset to build on but also look beyond the United States as a trading partner. The GFCC Global Competitiveness Principles is a great roadmap tool to help in rethinking and realigning how and where we do business.