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Applied research is booming at colleges and institutes

Ottawa, August 8, 2017 – Over the past five years, applied research activity has seen a significant boom in colleges and institutes across Canada that, now more than ever, play an essential role in the country’s innovation ecosystem. According to CICan’s 2015-2016 applied research survey this clear trend is driven by increasing industry partnerships but remains limited by insufficient federal research funding.

According to the survey, colleges and institutes worked with over 6,800 partners from the public and private sectors last year on a variety of applied research projects, showing a steady growth over five years. Since 2010-2011 the number of applied research partnerships with small and medium-sized enterprises has increased by 23% while the number of partnerships with large enterprises has increased by 51%.

However, the largest growth since 2010-2011 has occurred in partnerships with micro-enterprises, defined as having less than five employees, which increased by an astounding 560%. Meanwhile, partnerships with the non-profit sector increased by 76%. This positions colleges and institutes as key players when it comes to supporting local innovation with real impacts in communities all over Canada, including through local clusters where they provide skills, expertise and access to specialized labs and facilities.

Colleges and institutes, together with government, the private sector, and other sources, invested a total of $246 million in applied research in 2015-16, an increase of 76% over 2010-11. Despite this huge jump, CICan members receive only about 2% of all federal funding for higher education research, which continues to limit the number of projects they are able to take on in support of economic growth and innovation in their communities.

Participating in applied research is also a valuable learning experience for students as well as an opportunity to work directly with employers in their field. However, only a small fraction of the over one million students enrolled in colleges and institutes across the country currently have that opportunity. With greater access to research grants, internships, and new work-integrated learning opportunities, there is no doubt that colleges, institutes and their students could play an even bigger role in supporting Canadian innovation.

Examples of research partnerships:

About Colleges and Institutes Canada:

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the voice of Canada’s publicly-supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics, and an international leader in education for employment with ongoing programs in over 25 countries. Colleges and institutes add over $190B to Canada’s economy each year and contribute to inclusive economic growth by working with industry and community partners to offer more than 8000 programs at campuses serving urban, rural, remote, and northern communities.

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For more information:

Julien Abord-Babin
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
jabord-babin@collegesinstitutes.ca
Tel. : 613-746-2222 ext. 3131
Twitter : @CollegeCan