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Centre for Business Innovation (CBI)

The Conference Board of Canada has established the Centre for Business Innovation (CBI) as a five-year initiative to help bring about major improvements in firm-level business innovation in Canada.

What’s New


We have released our May 2018 version of the Innovation Report Card that evaluates the performance of Canada, the Provinces, and the Developed Countries.

Watch the CBC interview with Paul Preston of the Conference Board of Canada on the Innovation Report Card.

Report coverEvaluating Government Programs That Support Business Innovation: Framework and Principles

January 2018
This report clarifies the meaning and importance of business innovation according to the latest developments in how industry, governments, and academia need to approach it.

Report coverWelcome to Canada: Foreign Direct Investment and Innovation

November 2017
This report clarifies the meaning and importance of business innovation according to the latest developments in how industry, governments, and academia need to approach it.


Member Organizations

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions
Canadian Space Agency
Connective Intelligence Inc.
Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC)
Deloitte
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Lark Group
Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth
Spyder Works Inc.
Symcor Inc.

Mission of the Centre

The CBI’s mission is to:

  • learn why Canada is not a leader in business innovation;
  • create insights for firms and capital markets that will improve firm-level innovation;
  • generate evidence and track our performance; and
  • formulate public policies that will successfully stimulate business innovation.

Positive results will help Canada become a world leader in this area, thereby boosting its competitiveness.

The Centre brings together a group of business, government, and academic leaders to provide guidance; review the findings of the Centre’s in-depth, comprehensive, and objective research; build a shared understanding of the problems and solutions; and advise on disseminating results to firms for uptake and implementation. The core membership of this blue-ribbon advisory group will be the financial supporters of the CBI.

As part of its mandate, The Centre for Business Innovation will conduct research into the best innovation practices in other countries and document these practices into its publications where applicable. Some peer countries have outperformed Canada in terms of business innovation, and some sectors are more innovative in countries other than Canada. Learning from the world leaders will be valuable in proposing solutions for our country.

Measurement and Benchmarking

The Coalition for Action on Innovation in Canada, in its recent report, An Action Plan for Prosperity, called for Canada to “… become a nation of innovators.” The report presented a 10-point plan to stimulate innovation in Canada to achieve that goal.

To promote effective action, the Coalition recommended establishing an agency, or mandating an existing organization, to collect and analyze benchmarking and other data that would measure innovation performance and track results. This agency would “… have the capacity to conduct or commission cross-country, sector-by-sector benchmarking of Canadian business to global best practices.”

The Conference Board’s Centre for Business Innovation embraced that measurement and benchmarking mandate and is fullfilling this role as a core part of its program.

Guiding Principles for the Centre

A Focus on Business Innovation

We see business innovation as one of the greatest issues affecting our country. It is a mega-issue because it involves all sectors of the economy and all regions of Canada. Its direct and indirect impacts influence all aspects of our economic well-being.

A Holistic Vision

The Centre’s focus is on business innovation in the largest sense. This holistic approach will provide the Centre with an opportunity to generate a comprehensive set of diagnostics and solutions that address innovation at every stage of business activity. This all-encompassing approach to innovation will afford the Centre a highly sophisticated and integrated view that we believe is essential to overcome the obstacles that have so far inhibited business innovation.

A Short- to Long-Term Perspective

The CBI examines issues from a 1- to 20-year perspective to identify short-term actions in response to immediate challenges, while also addressing structural issues.

An Action-Oriented Approach

The Centre is action-oriented. It will identify steps toward achievable change that will boost Canada’s business innovation performance. Centre research will be geared to providing concrete suggestions for businesses, governments, regulators, academia, and not-for-profit organizations to respond to opportunities or challenges identified by the research. The Centre’s research is grounded in the current reality of increasing global competition, the need for greater productivity to compete in foreign markets and address international competition in Canada, the pressure of rapidly evolving information and communications technologies, and rising consumer expectations for new and improved products and services.

Inclusive, Rigorous, and Strongly Independent Research

The Centre draws on the best information and resources available in Canada and internationally to help inform its research. Members will be heavily involved in identifying research priorities. We will also seek inputs from individuals and organizations that are not Centre members. The research conclusions will be strongly independent and based on the Conference Board’s interpretation of the evidence.

A Partnership-Based Approach

The Centre for Business Innovation seeks appropriate partnerships with individuals, researchers, and institutions that can contribute to achieving the Centre’s goals and mandate. Collaboration with international organizations, such as the OECD and the World Economic Forum, are planned or under way. In addition, the Centre pursues collaborations with important Canadian initiatives, such as the Toronto Region Research Alliance’s Innovative Cities Initiative and the Coalition for Action on Innovation in Canada. Links to leading university researchers in faculties of management, business, and engineering—across Canada and internationally—will also be established.