Design Engineering

Canada has a poor track record when it comes to investing in R&D


General investment R&D

Canada is competing alongside other countries to foster the next wave of research advances and innovations, yet falling short.

The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has ranked Canada poorly when it comes to investing in R&D, according its new expert panel report.

The report provides the latest data and information on Canada’s track record in fundamental research, applied research and experimental development, industrial R&D, and the relationship of these research efforts to wealth creation and prosperity through innovation.

One of the key findings of the report is that that while Canada benefits from high levels of educational attainment, is a leading global contributor to research, and has significant areas of research strength, other countries are outpacing Canada in terms of R&D investment, ultimately putting the country’s prosperity at risk.

Since 2001, R&D investment as a share of GDP has declined steadily. Canada now stands well behind the OECD average, and is ranked 33rd out of 40 countries on an index of business R&D investment, intensity, and growth.


Low R&D spending in Canadian industry is a significant concern, but growth in government and higher education R&D is now also falling behind those of other leading nations.

The report suggests that while Canada is a highly innovative country significant barriers such as a lack of managerial skills, the experience needed to scale-up companies, and foreign acquisition of high-tech firms  often prevent the translation of innovation into wealth creation.

Despite poor overall performance, the Panel found that Canada does have notable pockets of industrial R&D strength, particularly in scientific research and development services, computer systems design, communications equipment manufacturing, and aerospace products and parts manufacturing.

In terms of research output, impact, and overall strength Canada’s performance remains strong. Between 2009 and 2014, Canada produced 3.8% of the world’s research publications ranking ninth in the world. It has maintained its international standing in measures of impact, maintaining its ranking in sixth place among peer countries.

Canadian research is comparatively less specialized and less esteemed in the core fields of the natural sciences and engineering.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories