Hodgins, Mary Ellen (2011). Innovation policy in Canada’s agri-food system: The functional food and natural health products’ segment. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)
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Public policy regarding innovation in the Canadian value-added agri-food sector does not appear to meet its intended outcomes. Rather than being a commodity producing nation, Canada has attempted to focus its attention on adding value to products that increase economic returns. Innovation capacity and ability to capture opportunities appear to be limiting factors.
This research therefore conducted a general review of the food system in Canada with a specific focus on innovation in the functional food and natural health products’ (nutraceutical) sector. The findings are based on interviews with forty representatives of the key actor groups in innovation: industry, academia, government and civil society.
The research concluded that the food system is comprised of complex demand networks that include global players working on various elements of innovation. The growing complexities are causing challenges for all actor groups. One major challenge is the lack of a common understanding of the concept of innovation within or among the actor groups including policy-makers. This finding puts into question any policies and measurements currently in place.
The research adds new knowledge by expanding the multi-dimensional definition of innovation to include human elements. The research also shows that federal policy as it affects innovation in the Canadian high value-added agri-food sector is not evidence-based.
A paradigm shift is required in policy-making to a solutions-led approach that results in public and private policies targeting solutions for a healthier Canada combining human, environmental and societal benefits.
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