Crosscountry Canada at a glance — March 2016

Canada comes second in a ranking of the world’s best countries, but its performance on the innovation front is far from stellar, according to a global study.


On top of the world — almost

Canada came close to the top of a list of the world’s best countries compiled by US News & World Report, BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, reports Vancitybuzz.

Overall, Canada took second place, just behind Germany, among 60 countries, and also came first in the quality of life subcategory, which includes factors such as affordability, job market, economic stability, family-friendliness and quality of public services such as healthcare and education. Canada’s overall performance put it ahead of the US (fourth), Sweden (fifth) and France (eighth).


Chip on the old block

Electronic pen

A new type of “electronic pen,” invented by researchers at the University of Western Ontario, allows users to draw their own chip circuits on just about any surface, reports French magazine Sciences et Avenir.

The pen contains conductive ink that makes it possible to etch a circuit on paper, glass, plastic — even on soft materials such as textiles. Once the circuit is set, you simply need to add components, such as resistors, batteries and LEDs. If you make a mistake, no problem. One end of the pen has an eraser tip.

Similar pens have been made elsewhere, but the nanoparticles in the ink caused the tips to clog. The new version is made of silver salts mixed with rubber and various solvents that ensure fluidity. What’s the point in having a pen if you can’t draw with it?


In for the long term

At the world Economic Forum in Davos, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) joined five other large institutional investors to announce a new stock index focusing on the long term, reports Les Affaires. The S&P Long-Term Value Creation Global Index is meant to inspire other major institutional investors to give precedence to companies that aim for long-term value creation.

“We hope that the index will help change the behaviour of companies when they realize that the capital of large investors will migrate increasingly toward those who give priority to the long term,” said Mark Wiseman, CPPIB’s president and CEO.

For the 10 years ending January 22, 2016, the index generated a return of 7.7%, far higher than the 4.3% recorded by its reference index, the S&P Global LargeMidCap.


Middling at best

Canada’s performance on the innovation front is far from stellar, according to a global ranking of 56 countries compiled by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in Washington. We landed in 25th position — just above the middle.

While most studies compare innovation capabilities, the ITIF focuses on the extent to which various countries contribute to or detract from the global innovation system through their policies and practices. For example, investment in R&D and education add to the total sum of knowledge and innovation; export subsidies take away from it. Canada came out with a score of five — ahead of South Africa (0.1) but far behind Finland, the leader (15.6).