Colleges and Institutes Canada Colleges and Institutes Canada

Applied research at colleges and institutes

The following results from CICan’s 2017-2018 applied research survey show that colleges and institutes continue to occupy a critical space in Canada’s innovation ecosystem. Thanks to their many partnerships, they are having a tangible impact across all sectors of the economy and in communities all over the country.

A diversified expertise

Colleges and institutes from across the country led over 6,000 applied research projects in 2017-2018 in all key sectors of the economy. These partnerships involved businesses and community organisations of all sizes, included students who gained innovative work experience, and contributed to environmental sustainability by helping develop clean technologies and sustainable practices.

Innovation with tangible results

In 2017-2018, research activity at colleges and institutes led to more than 4,400 new processes, products, prototypes and services. Approximately 87% of these results were achieved in less than one year.

Research capacity and infrastructure

In 2017-2018, 57,000 people, including 4,000 faculty and staff and 53,000 students contributed to applied research projects at college and institute laboratories and research centres. Their work and the state-of-the-art research infrastructure available help support innovation in various sectors of the economy.

Applied Research Partnerships

SMEs, large corporations, not-for-profit and community organizations all benefit from applied research partnerships. CICan members reported over 7,300 research partnerships in 2017-2018, 64% of them with SMEs who often do not have the capacity or resources to conduct cutting-edge research on their own.


Colleges and institutes received over $296 million in 2017-2018 to support applied research. The majority comes from government sources, with 33% from the federal government. At $78 million, private sector contributions are very significant and demonstrate the value businesses derive from college and institute applied research services.

Survey methodology and response rate

The global response rate for this survey was 81% thanks to data sharing arrangements. For more information about the methodology, please consult the full report.

Detailed report

See the full 2017-2018 Applied Research survey results for more information.

View the full report

*All the numbers on this page have been rounded to the nearest whole value.