February 14, 2024

Navigating Collaborative Futures

The Expert Panel on International Science, Technology, Innovation, and Knowledge Partnerships

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International science, technology, innovation, and knowledge production (STIK) partnerships offer opportunities for Canada to accelerate collective solutions, meet national priorities, and build consensus within a complex and changing geopolitical context. Currently, Canada lacks a cohesive national strategy for assessing STIK partnerships.

The need for a strategic and deliberate approach to international STIK partnerships is acute. Opportunities for such partnerships are rapidly expanding, and Canada risks falling behind in an increasingly competitive global knowledge economy. Meanwhile, new scientific discoveries and emerging innovations are increasing in complexity; global challenges highlight the urgency of international cooperation and collaboration; and national interests are affecting the movement toward open science and transdisciplinary approaches.

In Navigating Collaborative Futures, the expert panel presents an approach for making decisions about international STIK partnerships. An evidence-based, data-enabled framework can help organizations articulate partnership goals; identify, evaluate, and weight appropriate indicators of partnership value; and determine whether to pursue or continue a partnership.

The sponsor:

Global Affairs Canada

The question:

In a post-COVID world, how can Canadian public, private and academic organizations evaluate and prioritize STI partnership opportunities with foreign countries to achieve key national objectives, using indicators supported by objective data where possible?

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Canada has long balanced the local and the global — and the top-down and the bottom-up — in its decision-making processes. For decades, international STIK partnerships have been driven by the needs and network connections of researchers in Canada and abroad. This bottom-up approach is vital to a thriving, responsive STIK ecosystem. However, the Government of Canada has also struggled for decades to coordinate STIK efforts among its own organizations, to provide direction and support for decision-makers, and to present a clear point of entry for potential international partners. In its report, the panel presents the building blocks to construct a collective strategy, informed by international best practices.

Acknowledging there is no one-size-fits-all decision-making process, the panel instead presents elements of a framework with an in-depth review of indicators and metrics that support international STIK partnership decision-making. The report is accompanied by a user guide that provides examples of framework elements assembled into frameworks that can support decision-making. The selection and assembly of framework elements allow users to build frameworks to address their needs and adapt them as necessary to match a changing context.

Report findings

  • Participation in the global STIK network is increasingly complex due to new entrants, growing economies, rapidly evolving challenges, and expanding opportunities for international partnerships.
  • International STIK partnerships are essential to the continued prosperity and well-being of people in Canada and around the world.
  • A data-enabled decision-making framework can help Canada align its STIK activities with its national interests, strategically identify productive partnerships and manage accompanying risks, and build successful responses to today’s global challenges.
  • Identifying national priorities helps potential framework users articulate and align international STIK partnership goals, but Canada lacks the published national strategies on STIK and foreign policy that could inform such goals.
  • International STIK cooperation can create new relationships as well as strengthen existing activities in relevant areas, both domestically and internationally. Successful partnerships will leverage existing values to maximize benefits to Canada.
  • The success of a decision-making framework will be determined by the level of support available for its implementation. This includes support for strategic foresight, identifying and improving data sources and analyses, and appropriate governance structures. The longevity of any strategic framework will depend on the ability of users to evaluate and adapt or adopt new framework elements to match a changing context.

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on International Science, Technology, Innovation, and Knowledge Partnerships