On Campus

Universities’ Momentum report on R&D

Last week, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) released a new report on the state of research and development in Canada. The report, Momentum: The 2008 report on university research and knowledge mobilization, shows that universities performed more than 1/3 of Canada’s research and contributed at least $60 billion to the economy in 2007.

With 54% of the country’s overall research activities performed by the private sector, Canada lags behind the OECD average (69%) and a number of key comparator countries including the U.S. (70%) and the U.K. (62%). The Momentum Report notes a number of reasons for the private sector’s relatively smaller research role in Canada:

the size and structure of the Canadian economy help to explain the lower percentage of R&D performed by the Canadian private sector. Canada’s economy is heavily focused on primary resources for which research intensity tends to be low. Canada also has a relatively large number of smaller firms that do not tend to conduct as much research on a sustainable basis. Moreover, the “branch plant” structure of Canada’s economy, in which local subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms are less likely to be assigned research activities further contributes to lower levels of R&D activities, particularly if the economies of scale are not favourable.

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