August 28, 2013

The State of Industrial R&D in Canada

The Expert Panel on The State of Industrial R&D in Canada


Industrial R&D (IR&D) is the private sector’s investment of time and resources in the development of new ideas, technologies, and processes to promote business performance and create better products. IR&D also contributes to meeting pressing social challenges, ranging from development of new medical treatments to mitigation of environmental impacts to changing the ways in which Canadians work together. The returns on investments in IR&D can be high for the firms undertaking it, the economy at large, and, in particular, the region in which the IR&D takes place.

For most of the 20th century, and now into the 21st, Canadian policy-makers have attempted to craft policies to better promote IR&D and innovation in Canada. Understanding the current state of IR&D is critical to effective policy development. In 2011 the Minister of  Industry, on behalf of Industry Canada, asked the CCA to assess IR&D in Canada. To conduct this assessment the CCA assembled a 14-member expert panel to consider the most relevant evidence possible.

The Sponsor:

Industry Canada

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The Question

What is the current state of industrial research and development in Canada?

Key Findings

The State of Industrial R&D in Canada, provides an in-depth analysis of research and development activities in Canadian industries and is one of the most detailed and systematic studies of the state of IR&D ever undertaken in Canada.

While many reports have documented Canada’s historical weakness in industrial R&D, the Panel’s report sheds new light on the subject by examining areas of strength and how these strengths are distributed regionally. The report also examines the alignment if IR&D strengths with Canada’s areas of excellence in science and technology research and economic performance. Barriers and gaps that limit the translation of Canada’s S&T strengths into innovation and wealth creation are also identified.

  • Canada’s four IR&D strengths:
    • Aerospace products and parts manufacturing
    • Information and communication technologies (ICT)
    • Oil and gas extraction
    • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing
  • IR&D activity is concentrated in central Canada, with Ontario and Quebec ranking highest, followed by Alberta and British Columbia.
  • IR&D in Canada is relatively personnel intensive and less capital intensive when compared to other countries.
  • An IR&D intensity gap exists between Canada and the United States and is largely driven by Canada’s low IR&D intensity in the high-technology manufacturing sector.
  • Some areas of alignment exist between Canada’s industrial IR&D strengths, research strengths in science and technology, and overall economic performance, but these are limited and more research into these relationships is needed.

Figure 6.1
Distribution of Patent and Publication Citations in Canada, 2003–2010
The figure shows an industry’s share of total IR&D (size of bubble), average relative citations of patents (x-axis), and average relative citations of publications (y-axis). Industry bubbles are also coloured according to whether IR&D expenditures have increased (green), decreased (red), or remained stable (yellow). Average relative citation scores are presented here as the hyperbolic tangent of the natural logarithm to produce a symmetrical scale, with zero equivalent to the world average.



Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on The State of Industrial R&D in Canada