The State of Industrial R&D in Canada

The Minister of Industry, on behalf of Industry Canada, asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assess industrial research and development (IR&D) in Canada.

To conduct this assessment the Council assembled a 14-member expert panel who met over the course of 14 months to consider the most relevant evidence possible. 

The report, 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 of 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.

Key findings include:

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.


What is the current state of industrial research and development (R&D) in Canada?

Report and related products:


Expert Panel

CCA staff and members of the Expert Panel on the State of Industrial Research and Development

The Expert Panel on the State of Industrial R&D was chaired by Kathleen Sendall, Director, CGG; Director of Enmax Corporation; Vice Chair, Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on the State of Industrial R&D page

For additional information or  media inquiries, please contact:

Samantha Rae Ayoub, Communications and Publishing Director, at 613-567-5000 ext. 256 or

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Additional Information


Other work in R&D:

The 2010 federal panel, chaired by Mr. Tom Jenkins, launched its report in October 2011, providing recommendations to the Government of Canada on how it can maximize the impact of the $7 billion it spends annually in support of business and commercially-oriented R&D.

The work of the federal panel focused on the effectiveness of federal programs whereas the Council’s expert panel will assess the overall state of industrial R&D in Canada.

Review of Federal Support to Research and Development