A new expert panel report on research and development in Canadian industry has found that, despite Canada's historically poor performance in industrial research and development, four sectors of national strength exist.
The report, titled The State of Industrial R&D in Canada, by the Council of Canadian Academies provides a comprehensive and evidence-based analysis of Canada’s R&D strengths in industry, how these strengths are distributed regionally, and also how they align with Canada’s overall research and economic performance.
According to the analysis, the four key areas of strength are:
- Aerospace products and parts manufacturing;
- Information and communication technologies;
- Oil and gas extraction;
- Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.
Although there is no single method for measuring industrial R&D strength, by using a wide range of indicators, including new patenting, publication, and expenditure data, the panel found that industrial R&D activity is concentrated in central Canada, with Ontario and Quebec ranking highest, followed by Alberta and British Columbia.
However, this does not exclude the potential impact one small firm can have anywhere in Canada, officials say.
“Industrial R&D has been a source of perennial concern for Canadian policy-makers as it is an important contributor to the innovation process,” says Expert Panel Chair Kathleen Sendall, C.M., FCAE, Director, CGG, and Director of Enmax Corporation. “This report will serve as an important baseline for policy and decision-making going forward as it is one of the most detailed and systematic studies on industrial R&D ever undertaken in Canada.”
The panel’s assessment, he says, also revealed that industrial R&D in Canada is relatively personnel intensive and less capital intensive than in other comparative countries, and that fewer large firms undertake industrial R&D in Canada.
Industrial R&D expenditures in Canada are now roughly half of the U.S. level and declining, the analysis shows. This gap is largely driven by low IR&D intensity in Canadian high-tech manufacturing sectors, such as semiconductor and computer equipment manufacturing.
“Building a strong foundation of IR&D is essential if Canada is to compete globally, and the report sheds light on this complex topic,” says Elizabeth Dowdeswell, O.C., President and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies. “Along with its companion report, The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012, this Panel’s report will contribute to the informed, evidence-based discussion about Canada’s future prosperity.”
About the Council of Canadian Academies
The Council of Canadian Academies is an independent, not-for-profit organization that began operation in 2005. The Council supports evidence-based, expert assessments to inform public policy development in Canada. Assessments are conducted by independent, multidisciplinary panels of experts from across Canada and abroad. The Council’s blue-ribbon panels serve free of charge and many are Fellows of the Council’s Member Academies: the Royal Society of Canada; the Canadian Academy of Engineering; and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.