Innovation and Value Creation in Canada’s Ocean Sector: A Blue Economy Imperative

Author: Fred Olayele, Ph.D.

Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing


The ocean innovation economy cuts across many sectors and derives its primary value from digital technologies, the availability of top talent, startup and growth capital, intellectual capital, creativity, the presence of large firms, and a robust ecosystem that can connect startups to programs and funds for expansion. The Canadian economy is influenced in many ways by the oceans spanning its west, north, and east coasts. With abundant ocean resources and deep capabilities, Canada is a global leader in coastal and marine sciences, technology, and innovation. While this presents a huge opportunity, both commercially and in terms of its ability to influence the new global political economy, its lacklustre performance on labour productivity growth in the last two decades – compared to its southern neighbour – remains a source of concern. Insofar as much of this lagging performance is due to sub-par innovation outcomes, mainly due to multifactor productivity gap, the argument for deepening Canada’s innovation economy by bringing together industry, research, investors, government, and Indigenous stakeholders remains compelling. This model underpins the Canadian innovation superclusters, anchored on robust private-public partnerships, with transaction costs at the core of the institutional design. This paper explores these issues and draws lessons for policy and business modernization vis-à-vis unlocking value in the marine economy.