Just How Pressing Is the Immigrant Entrepreneur Issue?

There appears to be a widening gap between the rate of innovation in Canada and the rest of the world. The statistics should scare the bejesus out of you.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reports that in 2008, 77,501 patent applications were filed in the US PTO by resident Americans.

To match the same rate of innovation as Americans, Canadian residents would have to file 8,488 patent applications during that same period. We fall short by a large margin: in 2007 a total of just under 5000 patent applications were filed in Canada, and 90% of those were filed by non-residents.

Now, there’s a lot of challenges to these numbers that can be made- not all innovations are patentable, many Canadian companies file in the US and by-pass Canada, some of the non-resident applicants are really filing innovations by Canadian employees, etc. But as a raw measure of innovation, WIPO’s numbers still highlight a compelling and troubling gap between inventions by Canadians versus others.

Let me put it another way (or more accurately, let me quote other WIPO data): For every million Canadians, 151 patents are filed. That’s a low, low number when you compare it with the following:

Country : # patent applications/million residents

  • United States : 800.17
  • Germany : 581.67
  • Israel : 224.93
  • Ireland : 193.99
  • France : 238.58
  • Finland : 341.10

What is the rate of innovation that we need to maintain in order to be proportionately competitive with other innovation economies? That’s something people who don’t have clients can debate. Me, I’m just going to point out the yawing gap between Canada and Finland (Finland?!? This isn’t hockey! On sheer numbers of daylight hours alone we should have more inventions than they). But the compelling fact for me about these numbers if they cry for a proactive immigration policy that will close the gap.