The latest data is in and it points to growth in all directions: more projects, more partnerships, more solutions, more students, and more dollars. The success reported paints a picture of what applied research already offers Canada’s innovation ecosystem and what we can still achieve if we think more strategically about investment.
We’re talking, of course, about the most recent results of our annual survey of college and institute applied research! Here’s a snapshot:
- In 2019-2020, colleges and institutes across the country led over 6,400 applied research projects contributing to all key sectors of the economy. (That’s up 7% over two years!)
- That amounts to 5,500 new processes, products, prototypes, and services. (An increase of 24% over two years!) And, over 85% of these results were achieved in less than one year.
- Of 8,000 total research partnerships (up 8% over two years), 67% were with SMEs who often do not have the capacity or resources to conduct cutting-edge research on their own.
- Forty-two thousand students contributed to these projects at college and institute laboratories and research centres. (Up 45% over two years!)
- And, the total applied research ecosystem is now worth $354M (An increase of 19% over two years)!
The key takeaway is that the college and institute applied research footprint is growing. Each year, more and more Canadian businesses and community organizations of all sizes (in all areas of the country) benefit from real solutions to real problems. Each year, more students gain valuable work experience and skills to join the job market by participating in cutting-edge research projects. And each year, more Canadians as a whole benefit from innovation that contributes to the long-term sustainability of Canadian industry.
So, if you’re, perhaps, a new or re-elected federal cabinet minister looking for a way to boost local innovation, you might consider college and institute applied research as the innovation engine in their communities, from large urban centres to smaller northern and remote communities.
- In the context of a federal budget, we recommended the government accelerate recovery, economic growth, and competitiveness with regular investments of $40M per year to expand college and institute applied research capacity and the delivery of innovation solutions.
- Don’t forget that innovation in a digital world comes with its own set of challenges. We also recommended the government invest in resources, guidelines, and on-going training to ensure college and institute applied research offices, their innovation partners, and our innovation ecosystem remain secure from digital threats.