Canadian Applied Research Continues to Grow at Colleges and Institutes Despite Pandemic, According to Latest Survey Results

Ottawa, May 18, 2023 – Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) today released the latest data from its applied reach survey, highlighting steady growth across Canada, despite pandemic restrictions and shutdowns.   

The new survey, which includes data from over 100 of CICan’s member institutions – implying a baseline rather than a limit – examines colleges and institutes’ applied research activity from 2021-2022. Together, members reported over 8,800 research partnerships, many of which are with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which often lack the resources, specialized technology and expertise to solve innovation challenges independently. These partnerships led to the development of 6,436 new products, processes, prototypes and services, 80 per cent of which were completed in less than a year.   

The most significant growth since CICan’s last survey in 2019-20 was the number of projects, up 25 per cent, and the number of outputs, up 16 per cent. The growth is seen primarily in goods-producing industries. There was also a substantial rise in the number of processes and services that may be linked to the need to reinvent approaches in response to the pandemic. These results indicate that, despite setbacks, colleges and institutes continue to fulfill their research and innovation mandate by creating adaptable solutions for Canada’s SMEs that address the unique needs of the pandemic and maintain their competitiveness. Equally impressive is the number of projects focused on green initiatives, which grew exponentially from the previous year, demonstrating colleges and institutes’ growing contribution to Canada’s net-zero future.   

“Our 2021-2022 survey results reveal the remarkable contribution of applied research in colleges and institutes to Canada’s innovation ecosystem,” says Denise Amyot, President and CEO, CICan. “With a growing number of projects and outputs, colleges and institutes demonstrate a scalable model that is responsive to Canada’s demands for innovation and continues to strengthen SMEs’ economic resiliency and competitiveness amidst challenging economic times. ”  

Please consult the full report for more information on CICan’s 2021-2022 applied research survey.   

These latest statistics, and this year’s federal budget investment in the Tri-Council College and Community Innovation Program, underscores the growing importance of applied research at colleges and institutes to innovation and economic development, especially in the wake of COVID-19 and the economic uncertainty that continues to persist.   

About Colleges and Institutes Canada

CICan is the national and international voice of Canada’s largest post-secondary education network. It advocates, builds capacity, and drives knowledge to strengthen Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, CEGEPs, and polytechnics. With more than 95% of Canadians living within 50 km of a member institution, and thanks to its extensive reach around the globe, CICan works to future-proof communities in Canada and abroad.

We respectfully acknowledge that CICan’s offices in Ottawa are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation.


For more information:

Katrina King

Senior Digital Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
Twitter: @CollegeCan