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Canada has strength in industrial R&D: Council of Canadian Academies

Industrial R&D in Canada is relatively personnel intensive and less capital intensive than in other comparative countries


OTTAWA – A new expert panel report on research and development in Canadian industry has found that, despite Canada’s historically poor performance in industrial R&D, four sectors of national strength exist.

The State of Industrial R&D in Canada by the Council of Canadian Academies suggests these strengths are distributed regionally, and that they align with Canada’s overall research and economic performance.

The four key areas of strength are:

  • Aerospace products and parts manufacturing;
  • Information and communication technologies;
  • Oil and gas extraction; and
  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.

Although there is no single method for measuring IR&D strength, by using a wide range of indicators, including new patenting, publication, and expenditure data, the report finds that IR&D activity is concentrated in central Canada, with Ontario and Quebec ranking highest, followed by Alberta and BC.

The report also reveals that IR&D in Canada is relatively personnel intensive and less capital intensive than in other comparative countries, and that fewer large firms undertake IR&D in Canada. IR&D expenditures in Canada are now roughly half of the US level and declining. This gap is largely driven by low IR&D intensity in Canadian high-tech manufacturing sectors, such as semiconductor and computer equipment manufacturing.

Download a copy of the report here.