Research activity on the rise at Canada’s colleges and institutes

Ottawa, September 27, 2021 – Research activity continues to grow at colleges and institutes across Canada who are increasingly recognized for their essential contribution to the country’s innovation ecosystem, by both government and industry partners. This portrait emerges clearly from the results of Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) latest survey on applied research.

Applied research at colleges and institutes is now a $354M ecosystem that has seen 19% growth over the two years between CICan’s 2017-2018 survey and this latest survey covering the 2019-2020 fiscal year. During that last year, CICan members reported over 8,000 research partnerships, the vast majority of them with SMEs, who often lack the resources, specialized technology and networks to solve innovation challenges on their own. This led to the development of 5,500 new products, processes, prototypes and services, 85% of which were completed in less than a year.

Though government funding remains critical, this latest survey shows growing support for applied research projects, with private sector funding now on par with federal government funding. In fact, private sector funding increased by an impressive 42% over two years, reaching $111 millions in 2019-2020 to support a wide variety of projects touching all key sectors of Canada’s economy.

“The research potential of colleges and institutes is absolutely amazing and we are incredibly pleased to see that so many Canadian businesses are taking note,” says CICan president and CEO, Denise Amyot. “These are win-win partnerships, that help fuel Canadian innovation and support the growth of local SMEs, while providing students with invaluable learning opportunities. This growing support is proof that these collaborations are able to deliver meaningful innovation, that ultimately contribute to a more dynamic and prosperous Canada.”

Participation from students is also growing, with 42,000 students taking part in applied research projects over the survey year. Though those numbers mostly reflect pre-pandemic participation, that is an increase of 45% since the previous survey, driven in large part by the impressive number of partnerships created. This provides students with invaluable work experience, while allowing them to contribute directly to innovative projects.

These latest statistics show just how important applied research at colleges and institutes has become, especially in the context of Canada’s post-pandemic recovery. At a time where Canadian businesses, and SMEs in particular, are rethinking their business models to adapt to unprecedented challenges, CICan members continue to show that they can help drive innovation and economic recovery.

See the complete survey results for more information.

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