The digital and data-driven economy opens up new opportunities for innovation, growth and jobs but also brings new competitive challenges for businesses and public policy challenges for governments. Governments are focusing their effort on adopting new digital technologies and capabilities aligned with business ambition, strategy, and market potential, as well as on preparing for continuous disruptive economic and social challenges. To accommodate this period of rapid change, governments and regulators must respond with agility to meet policy objectives.
The RGI hosted the Critical Conversation on Regulating for Innovation in an Age of Disruption, to provide an overview of the current and future state of the relationship between regulation and innovation. Drafted by Jonathan Butler and Ian Currie (Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada) the discussion paper provided background on the issues at hand:
- There is an emerging toolkit of approaches to regulating for innovation that can be employed more broadly than at present.
- Cross-cutting challenges provide an opportunity to regulate to favour innovation through horizontal coordination across the federal/ provincial/ territorial and jurisdictions.
- Change in the US regulatory system at present is a strategic challenge for Canada.
- Performance-based regulation can more innovation-friendly that prescriptive regulation.
- Cost-benefit analysis remains an important tool to assess the merits of a particular regulatory approach.
To start the day, perspectives on the key issues were offered by practitioners and scholars forming the basis of a wide-ranging discussion. An important theme was the adaptability of the regulatory sector to emerging challenges and disruptions, while ensuring higher public trust. These ideas captured around four key dimensions of the conversation: adaptability, efficiency and predictability of regulation and coordination among regulatory regimes. Group discussion highlighted key priorities for the Government of Canada to consider in designing its regulation in the era of innovation. They have identified four core priorities addressing the four key dimensions. The participants’ called for establishing mixed scientific advisory boards comprising both regulators and innovators. They praised the need to integrate the perspectives of the regulated entities when designing regulatory programs in order to ensure coordination. The group identified the need to invest in relationships in order to increase the efficiency of any regulatory approach, maintaining communication between the regulators and stakeholders.