Colleges and institutes play a critical role in Canadian innovation according to latest Applied Research Survey

Ottawa, November 20, 2019 – As we mark global entrepreneurship week to celebrate and recognize Canadian ingenuity, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is pleased to release its latest survey of research activity at Canada’s colleges and institutes. The study looks at their contribution in key sectors of the economy and shows their impact as innovation engines for businesses in communities across the country.

The survey results show that colleges and institutes across Canada led over 6,000 applied research projects in 2017-2018. This resulted in over 2,100 prototypes, 880 new products, 480 processes and 360 services, 87% of which were completed in less than one year.

These projects were based on over 7,300 research partnerships, 64% of which included SMEs who may not always have the capacity or resources to conduct cutting-edge research on their own. In this way, college and institute applied research helps drive innovation in their communities, from large urban centres, to small northern and remote communities.

The survey also highlights how applied research projects provided great opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience while working with potential employers. Over 57,000 people, including more than 4,000 faculty and staff, and 53,000 students contributed to applied research projects at college and institute laboratories and research centres in 2017-2018.

“Year after year, we continue to be impressed by the depth and breadth of the applied research projects conducted at colleges and institutes all across the country”, noted CICan President and CEO, Denise Amyot. “They truly play a critical role in supporting Canadian innovation thanks to their hands-on, collaborative, and practical approach to research.”

The survey also analyzed funding sources for college and institute applied research projects, noting that, of $296M in total funding, $99M came from the federal government. As vital hubs for research, colleges and institutes leverage these funds to establish successful research partnerships. This does take time however, and many Canadian companies still do not realize how much support their local colleges and institutes can provide.

With the results of the survey in mind, CICan is reinforcing its earlier call to the Government of Canada to help expand SME participation in the innovation ecosystem by investing an additional $40 million per year in business innovation engagement services based in colleges, institutes and polytechnics. This recommendation was issued during the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance Pre-budget Consultations, in collaboration with six other associations, and could double the number of SMEs engaging with colleges and institutes in applied research and business innovation.

For more information on the 2017-2018 applied research survey, please consult the full report on the CICan website.

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. CICan’s members 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 10,000 programs to learners in urban, rural, remote, and northern communities. 



For more information: 

Julien Abord-Babin
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
Phone: 613-746-2222 ext. 3131
Twitter: @CollegeCan