State of the Nation 2014

Canada's Science, Technology and Innovation System: Canada's Innovation Challenges and Opportunities

Chapter 3: High-quality knowledge

Key Findings

  • Canada's total funding of research and development (R&D) activities remained essentially unchanged between 2008 and 2014, with funding increases by the higher education sector and provincial governments offset by funding declines by the two largest sectors — business and the federal government.
  • While Canada's higher education expenditures on R&D (herd) funding has been increasing over time, its herd intensity, at 0.65 percent of gross domestic product, has remained steady. With other countries increasing their spending more significantly, Canada fell from third position in 2006 to eighth in 2013 in herd intensity, performing at 88 percent of the threshold of the top five performing countries, down from 105 percent in 2006.
  • While the United States and the United Kingdom dominated global university rankings, Canada was competitive within a second tier of comparator countries.
  • With 96 researchers ranking among the top 1 percent of the most cited in their respective fields, Canada enjoyed some real "star power," ranking sixth after countries with significantly larger populations.

High-quality knowledge is part of the foundation for global competitiveness for all players in the science, technology and innovation (ST&I) ecosystem. In the science and technology (S&T) enterprise, knowledge is developed predominantly through research and development (R&D). R&D across the whole spectrum is vital: fundamental research (undertaken in both academia and industry); applied research directed towards specific objectives; and experimental development to produce new, or improve existing, products and processes.

To assess the quantity and quality of Canada's knowledge production, four components that drive success and define leadership are considered:

  • the level of investment in R&D, both across the economy and, more specifically, in higher education institutions (HEIs) (wherein another aspirational indicator lies);
  • the effectiveness of these investments in building critical mass in key research areas;
  • the global competitiveness of the research performed and of the HEIs in which much of the knowledge is generated; and
  • the extent of knowledge transfer between ST&I players.

Investments in Knowledge Production

The amount of funding invested in R&D significantly affects a country's ability to develop the quantity and quality of knowledge needed to be competitive with other countries. This is reflected in total R&D investment across the economy (i.e., gross domestic expenditures on R&D (GERD)) and, specifically, in HEIs and research hospitals (i.e., higher education expenditures on R&D (herd)). While Canada sustained its level of R&D funding in relation to the size of its economy between 2008 and 2014, it lost some ground against international competitors as they invested increasingly more.

Gross Domestic Expenditures on Research and Development

GERD reflects overall support for the formal generation of knowledge. It represents the total amount of funds spent on R&D activities across all sectors of the ST&I ecosystem: business, higher education, federal and provincial/territorial governments, private non-profit and foreign.

At almost $31 billion, Canada's GERD remained essentially unchanged over the period 2008 to 2014. Modest increases in funding by the higher education sector and provincial governments were offset by declines in the two largest funding sectors — business and the federal government (see Annex 3 for more detail on sources of R&D funding in Canada over time). Business funding for R&D peaked at $15.2 billion in 2011, then declined in 2012 and 2013, and is expected to continue trending downwards to $14.1 billion in 2014. Similarly, federal government funding for R&D trended downwards from its peak of $6.5 billion in 2010 and is expected to decline to $5.8 billion in 2014. In contrast, the higher education sector is expected to invest a record $5.5 billion in R&D in 2014, while provincial governments continued to gradually increase their R&D funding, which is expected to reach an all-time high of $2.1 billion in 2014.

Critical Mass in Neurosciences

The sub-priority of neurosciences, in which Canada has internationally acknowledged research strength, received the most funding from the federal granting councils in fiscal year 2013–2014. Despite its priority status, however, Canada is not investing in neurosciences at a competitive scale in comparison with the United States (U.S.). Total federal funding for neuroscience research is only about 40 percent of that in the U.S., even after adjusting for the size of the U.S. economy, which is about 11 times larger than Canada's economy.

The federal government supports neuroscience research through a number of initiatives, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's (cihr) Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (nserc), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (sshrc) and the Canada Brain Research Fund (through Brain Canada). cihr spent an estimated $129.3 million on neurosciences research in fiscal year 2013–2014, while nserc and sshrc spent about $35.6 million and $23.8 million respectively. In addition, the federal government is providing up to $100 million over six years (fiscal year 2011–2012 to fiscal year 2016–2017) to Brain Canada, a national non-profit organization that develops and supports collaborative, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research across the neurosciences. Total estimated federal spending on neurosciences research, therefore, was around $205 million in fiscal year 2013–2014.

In the U.S., the National Institutes of Health slated an estimated total of US$5,474 million for neuroscience research in its fiscal year 2014 budget. An additional US$110 million was provided through the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative in fiscal year 2014, resulting in a total of US$5,584 million for neuroscience research in fiscal year 2014.

While Canada's total R&D expenditures remained flat over the period, other countries increased their funding, both in dollar terms and in relation to the size of their respective economies. Canada's GERD intensity (i.e., GERD as a share of gross domestic product (GDP)) declined from 1.96 percent in 2006 to 1.62 percent in 2013, and its global ranking fell from 16th to 24th out of 41 countries (Figure 3-1). In contrast, first-place Israel increased its GERD intensity (from 4.19 percent to 4.21 percent of GDP), as did second-place Korea (from 2.83 percent to 4.15 percent of GDP). The United States (U.S.) ranked 11th in 2013, with its GERD intensity rising from 2.55 percent to 2.73 percent. In 2013, Canada performed at 49 percent (down from 67 percent in 2006) of the threshold of the top five performers, which also included Japan, Finland and Sweden.

Figure 3-1: GERD as a Percentage of GDP, 2006 and 2013

Bar char of the gross domestic expenditures on R&D as a percentage of GDP, 2006 and 2013 (the long description is located below the image)

Source: OECD, Main Science and Technology Indicators, July 2015.

Description of figure 3-1

Higher Education Expenditures on Research and Development

Previous State of the Nation reports have shown that Canada is more reliant than other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries on knowledge production in HEIs and research hospitals. As a result, State of the Nation 2012 identified herd intensity (i.e., herd as a share of GDP) as an aspirational indicator.

Canada's herd levels have increased over time (see Annex 3 for further detail), driven largely by growth in higher education funding and federal government funding. Federal R&D funding to the higher education sector rose rapidly from the late 1990s to 2011, at which time it levelled out and the growth rate returned to the lower levels witnessed in the early and mid-1990s (Figure 3-2).

Despite the increase in herd levels, Canada's herd intensity in 2013, at about 0.65 percent of GDP, was unchanged from 2006. As other countries invested more in higher education R&D, Canada lost ground internationally on herd intensity, falling from third place in 2006 to eighth in 2013 (Figure 3-3). The top five performers all increased their herd intensities from 2006 to 2013 — Denmark (a significant increase from 0.62 percent to 0.97 percent), Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Estonia. Canada performed at 88 percent of the threshold of the top five performers in 2013, down from 105 percent in 2006. Canada continued to outperform the U.S., whose herd intensity of 0.39 percent of GDP positioned it at 52 percent of the threshold of the top five performers. Canada also outperformed some other notable advanced economies, including Germany (with a herd intensity of 0.51 percent), Japan (0.47 percent), France (0.46 percent) and the United Kingdom (U.K.) (0.43 percent).

Figure 3-2: Federal Government Funding of R&D to the Higher Education Sector, 1990–2014

Bar chart of Federal Government funding of R&D to the higher education sector, 1990–2014 (in billions of dollars) (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 358-0001 (accessed July 28, 2015).

Description of figure 3-2

Figure 3-3: herd as a Percentage of GDP, 2006 and 2013

Bar chart of HERD as a Percentage of GDP, 2006 and 2013 (the long description is located below the image)

Source: OECD, Main Science and Technology Indicators, July 2015.

Description of figure 3-3

Research and Development Investments for Critical Mass

It is not only how much a country invests in ST&I, but how it invests that determines excellence and international competitiveness. Not all areas of knowledge are equally critical to Canada's future. To maximize the impact of Canada's investments, R&D funding must be strategic, focused and coordinated, to build capacity and critical mass in select areas.

To create critical mass and accelerate knowledge development, many countries identify R&D priorities to which they target concentrated resources. In Canada, the 2007 federal S&T Strategy23 identified four research priority areas: environmental science and technologies, natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and information and communications technologies (ICT). To provide further focus, the government adopted the list of 13 research sub-priorities identified by the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) in 2008. In 2014, with the release of its new ST&I strategy, the government updated the priorities and sub-priorities (now called "focus areas"), adding advanced manufacturing as a new research priority area and expanding the existing environmental science priority area to include agriculture. (See Annex 3 for the 2008 list of research sub-priorities and the updated 2014 list of focus areas.)

Insufficient international data prevent reliable comparisons of Canada's funding for R&D priority and sub-priority areas with that of other countries. For Canada only, the scale of federal government R&D funding for priorities and sub-priorities can be assessed, in part, through granting council funding to these areas.

Granting Council Funding for Research Priorities and Sub-Priorities

STIC used data provided by the three federal granting councils (i.e., Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) to assess funding support for academic research in priority and sub-priority areas between fiscal year 2011–2012 and fiscal year 2013–2014.24 Assessment of the data reveals that federal funding for priorities and sub-priorities remained largely static during this period.

Of the four 2007 research priority areas, health and life sciences received the largest amount of granting council funding in fiscal year 2013–2014, at $1,099.5 million, comparable to $1,110.3 million in fiscal year 2011–2012. This was followed by environment at $214.7 million (up from $199.1 million), ICT at $183.1 million (down from $203.0 million), and natural resources and energy at $164.7 million (down from $168.1 million). Declines in absolute funding to priority areas reflect the marginal decline in total granting council funding, which fell from $2,326.2 million in fiscal year 2011–2012 to $2,301.6 million in fiscal year 2013–2014. The combined share of granting council funding to the four priority areas in fiscal year 2013–2014, at 72.2 percent, remained the same as in fiscal year 2011–2012 (72.2 percent).

Achieving Cost-Effective Air Emission Reductions from Oil and Gas Production and Processing

Photo showing instruments to detect, quantify and reduce emissions from oil and natural gas production and processing.

Development of cleaner fossil fuels and related environmental technologies is essential to Canada's energy and environment objectives. Natural Resources Canada's CanmetENERGY research facility in Devon, Alberta, leads collaborative research with academia and industry to develop technologies and methods to detect, quantify and reduce emissions from oil and natural gas production and processing.

In oil and gas operations, flaring (the controlled burning of natural gas), venting (the controlled release of gases into the atmosphere) and fugitive equipment leaks create emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds and black carbon particulates that contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas (GHG) and pollutant emissions. Demonstration of efforts to address environmental impacts related to hydrocarbon projects is becoming increasingly important in obtaining "social license" to proceed with such projects. Canmetenergy-Devon has shown that collaborative development and deployment of technologies and practices can reduce both GHG and pollutant emissions and costly hydrocarbon losses.

With funding support from international organizations, including the World Bank and the United Nations, and Canada's Fast-Start Financing commitment, Canmetenergy-Devon recently led flaring and venting mitigation projects in Colombia and Mexico. Undertaken in collaboration with the Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada and Clearstone Engineering Ltd. of Calgary, these projects employed various demonstration technologies and practices that showed great promise for reducing both emissions and costs. The project at an oil production facility in Colombia identified the potential for a reduction of 150 kilotonnes of annual GHG emissions and for savings of US$50 million per year from avoidable hydrocarbon losses. The project at a refinery facility in Mexico identified the potential for a reduction of 1.3 megatonnes of annual GHG emissions and for savings of US$237 million per year from avoidable hydrocarbon losses. With support from Canada's commitment to the United Nations' Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Clearstone Engineering is now collaborating with stakeholders in Colombia and Mexico on plans to design emission reduction and hydrocarbon conservation implementation projects.

Funding for the 13 sub-priorities identified in 2008 accounted for 26.5 percent of total granting council funding in fiscal year 2013–2014, again essentially unchanged from 26.7 percent in fiscal year 2011–2012. In dollar terms, in the same period, funding for sub-priorities slipped from $621.7 million to $610.0 million. Among the sub-priority areas, neuroscience, at 7.2 percent, garnered the largest share of funding in fiscal year 2013–2014, up marginally from 7.0 percent in fiscal year 2011–2012. This was followed by health in an aging population at 4.8 percent (unchanged from fiscal year 2011–2012) and biomedical engineering and medical technologies at 3.0 percent (down slightly from 3.1 percent). (Breakdowns by granting council and sub-priority are presented in Annex 3.)

Outstanding Contributors to Brain Research — Dr. Donald T. Stuss and Dr. Brenda Milner

Regarded internationally as a leader in brain research, Canada ranks high on measures of top-cited international researchers in related fields, such as neurology and psychology. Toronto and Montréal are key centres of brain research, with two leading universities, University of Toronto and McGill University, respectively, and their affiliated hospital research institutes. Areas of research strength in Canada include brain and nervous system development, genetics of the brain, cognition and behaviour, neurodegeneration, brain plasticity and repair, learning and memory, motor control and sensory function.

Photo of Dr. Donald Stuss

Dr. Donald Stuss (Ontario Brain Institute) and Dr. Brenda Milner (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital) have made outstanding contributions to global brain research. Dr. Stuss is a pioneer in human frontal lobe research, with a career spanning over 35 years. His work focuses on researching and treating the cognitive functions and personality changes that occur after strokes and that result from traumatic brain injury or dementia. As a world-leading neuropsychologist, his research has had a profound impact on neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience at both the theoretical and practical levels.

Photo of Dr. Brenda Milner

With a career extending over 50 years, Dr. Milner is still an active researcher. Her work, which focuses on cognitive function in human frontal and temporal lobes, has had an extraordinary influence on the shape of neuroscience and on the work of scientists around the world. The origins of modern cognitive neuroscience of memory can be traced directly to her rigorous and imaginative studies. She uses positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the brain regions involved in language processing, including in patients with brain lesions in close proximity to areas critical for language. In 2014, Dr. Milner won the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for outstanding achievement in advancing knowledge and understanding of the brain and nervous system, the first Kavli Prize ever awarded to a Canadian.

Competitiveness of Research and Higher Education Institutions

To have a real impact, the research conducted in Canada's ST&I ecosystem must be of high quality and the organizations within which it is conducted — HEIs, government laboratories and firms — must be competitive internationally.

Although obtaining a meaningful and rigorous measure of the quality of research and host institutions is challenging, available data suggest that Canada remained competitive within a second tier of comparator countries regarding the quality (and perceived quality) of our universities and that a considerable amount of world-class science continued to take place in these institutions. While Canada continued to hold its own, we nonetheless made no progress in advancing our universities into the world's highest tier.

Global University Rankings

Globally competitive universities act as magnets to attract world-class talent and firms to Canada. Three key international university ranking systems are used to compare institutions across countries: the Graduate School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities (the "Shanghai ranking"); the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings; and the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. These ranking systems assess universities on indicators such as bibliometric data, prizes and awards won, and reputation among peers.25

The 2015 results from all three ranking systems show that U.S. and U.K. institutions are in a class of their own, continuing to dominate the top 10 lists. Notable in 2015, for the first time another country achieved that distinction — Switzerland's Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Zurich) placed ninth in the THE and QS rankings. Canada was competitive in a second tier of countries, noteworthy for hosting two universities on the combined top 25 lists. The University of Toronto ranked 25th in the Shanghai ranking and 19th in the THE ranking, while McGill University ranked 24th in the QS ranking. The only other countries (other than the U.S. and U.K.) that ranked universities on the combined top 25 lists were Switzerland and Singapore (both with two universities), and Australia, China, France and Japan (each with one university).

Looking at the top 100 rankings, in the Shanghai index, Canada held its own against all countries except the U.S. and U.K. Australia and the Netherlands clearly outperformed Canada in the THE and QS top 100 rankings, both in absolute numbers and in the number of universities relative to population.

Overall, between State of the Nation 2008 and this report, Canada made no progress in moving its ranked universities closer to the top 10 nor in growing the number of universities in the top 25 and top 100 lists.

Bibliometric Impact Indicators

Bibliometric impact indicators measure the visibility or influence of Canada's researchers as reflected by citation counts. The more a journal article is cited, the more it can be said to have influenced later scientific research. The relative impact index is the ratio between the world share of citations for a given country and its world share of publications. When a country's relative impact index is greater than one, its relative impact is better than the world average.

At 1.10, Canada's relative impact index in 2012 (over the preceding two-year period) was above the world average, which placed Canada in ninth position (tied with France), behind Switzerland (1.51), the U.S. (1.40), Denmark (1.38), Netherlands (1.37), Germany (1.26), the U.K. (1.25), Sweden (1.17) and Belgium (1.14). Canada's relative impact index rose by about 9 percent between 2002, when it was at 1.01, and 2012; however, our ranking slipped slightly, from eighth position, as Belgium moved ahead. (The year 2002 is used as a baseline as it is the only year for which a complete comparison with other countries is possible.)

Enhancing Global Recognition for Canadian Research Excellence

International science, technology and innovation prizes and awards, especially Nobel Prizes, are a reflection of a country's research excellence and its profile on the global stage. In 2015, Arthur McDonald, professor emeritus at Queen's University and Director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, became the co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. Dr. McDonald, along with Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo, demonstrated that subatomic particles called neutrinos change identities, dispelling the long-held notion that they were massless. This discovery transformed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and showed the need for a new kind of physics beyond the so-called Standard Model of fundamental particles.

Before Dr. McDonald's win, the last Nobel laureate in the sciences* affiliated with a Canadian university, research institution or firm dated back to 1994. In comparison, people from 15 other countries have won Nobel Prizes in the sciences over the 20-year period between 1994 and 2014. The U.S. claimed 144 prizes, the U.K. 19, Japan 11, and Germany and France 10 each. Israel, with about a quarter of Canada's population, garnered five, while Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland each earned between one and three.

In the belief that Canada's Nobel performance during that 20-year period was not an accurate reflection of the quality of Canadian science, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, introduced an initiative to enhance the visibility of Canada's contributions to international research. This initiative, "Enhancing Global Recognition for Canadian Research Excellence," involves the heads of universities, hospitals, research institutes, and corporate and government laboratories, as well as a canvassing committee and the presidents of Canada's three federal granting councils. Under this initiative, concerted efforts are being made by different parties to support nominations of Canada's leading scholars and scientists for major international scientific prizes and awards.

* This includes laureates in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and economic sciences. Return to text

A breakdown of the 2012 data by field of study reveals that Canada's relative impact index exceeded the international average in all scientific fields. Canada obtained its best relative impact index score in chemistry, at 1.32. Other areas of Canadian strength included physics (1.21), applied biology and ecology (1.20), and medical research (1.17).

It is useful to look at the number of leading researchers that a country hosts to obtain a better sense of a country's research excellence and profile on the global stage. In 2014, Thomson Reuters assessed papers indexed between 2002 and 2012 in 21 broad fields of study, identifying 3,144 researchers with the greatest number of articles ranked in the top 1 percent most cited in their respective fields and who, as such, were the "stars" of scientific research.26 On other measures throughout this report, Canada's rank is typically adjusted for country size (whether by GDP or population), to allow meaningful comparisons with other jurisdictions. Considered from this perspective, in the 2014 Thomson Reuters list, Canada ranked 12th in the number of highly cited researchers relative to population, as many smaller countries with solid HEI research systems punched above their weights.

When it comes to top researchers, however, the higher the absolute number, the greater the ability to attract other top talent and to develop high-profile international research collaborations. Thus, on this indicator, it is more meaningful to compare Canada's performance in absolute numbers. By this measure, Canada, with 96 highly cited researchers in 2014, enjoyed some real "star power," ranking sixth after the U.S., the U.K., China, Germany and Japan. Canada was short of fifth-place Japan by only seven researchers (Table 3-1 shows the top 15 countries). This performance is impressive, given that Canada's population is significantly smaller than that of the top five performers.

Table 3-1: Number of Most Highly Cited Researchers by Country, 2014
Country Number
U.S. 1,726
U.K. 371
China 171
Germany 163
Japan 103
Canada 96
France 86
Netherlands 82
Switzerland 77
Australia 75
Italy 52
Spain 43
Saudi Arabia 34
Denmark 33
Belgium 32

Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge gains value when it is shared. Knowledge transfer — between and among individuals, firms, educational and other institutions, and governments — can accelerate the pace of scientific and technological developments. In firms, it can lead to commercialization of discoveries and inventions that introduce new products and processes to the market.

Knowledge can be transferred informally, "on two feet," through the complex, organic and constantly shifting movement and interplay of people. While no indicator captures the extent and impact of this phenomenon, it occurs when, for example, researchers move from jobs in one sector to another, students undertake internships and co-operative work terms with private- and public-sector em ployers, researchers hold cross-appointments in government laboratories and university faculties, and business people lecture at HEIs.

North American Research Collaboration in Mathematics: Banff International Research Station

Established in 2003 in Banff, Alberta, the Banff International Research Station (birs) for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery is a North American initiative that focuses on collaborative and cross-disciplinary research in the mathematical sciences and applications in the sciences and industry. birs is modelled after one of the most successful mathematical institutes in the world, Germany's Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut.

"birs embraces all aspects of quantitative and analytic research," explains the Director, Dr. Nassif Ghoussoub. "Its programs span almost every aspect of pure, applied, computational and industrial mathematics, statistics and computer science." birs competitively selects and runs about 175 weekly workshops per year that attract physicists, biologists, engineers, economists and financial analysts. In 2014, Mexico approved a proposal to build a facility in Oaxaca, Casa Matemática Oaxaca, where birs will host around 25 additional workshops per year.

birs represents a breakthrough for North American scientific cooperation. It is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the United States' National Science Foundation, Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, and the Alberta Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education. As the first research facility to involve four governments in a partnership of this scale, birs provides exciting new opportunities for North American students and researchers, and access to international counterparts at the highest levels and across many disciplines. According to Dr. Ghoussoub, "The unique impact of birs is the role it plays as a catalyst of research collaborations and as a multiplier of opportunities that underscores how international cooperation adds up to more than what any nation could accomplish alone."

There are also more formal mechanisms through which knowledge is transferred, including collaboration on scientific papers and technology licensing. Although reliable Canadian and international data on these mechanisms are limited, available statistics suggest that Canada's knowledge transfer performance continued to be lacklustre.

Intersectoral Co-Publications

Comparative international data regarding collaboration on scientific papers are not available. However, in Canada, the Observatoire des sciences et des technologies measures the number of co-publications authored by university researchers and researchers from other ST&I sectors. In 2013, 24.2 percent of Canadian university researchers' publications were co-authored by at least one researcher from another sector, up from 20.4 percent in 2004.27 From 2004 to 2013, hospital researchers were by far the most frequent collaborators, having co-authored 13.1 percent of all university researchers' publications. The second most important collaborating sector was the federal government (4.5 percent), followed by industry and provincial governments (both at 2.6 percent).

Consistent with the large number of collaborations between university and hospital researchers over the period, the highest collaboration rates were in the fields of clinical medicine (35.6 percent), biomedical research (26.6 percent) and biology (26.0 percent). Among other fields, the only noteworthy collaboration rate was in earth and space sciences (20.7 percent).

Licensing Technologies

Another formal means of transferring knowledge is for academic and government researchers and institutions to license their technologies to firms. This can be facilitated by intermediaries, such as technology transfer offices and commercialization centres, and by governments, through programs supporting commercialization of research.

The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) publishes data on knowledge transfer activities in Canada and the U.S. based upon a sample of universities and affiliated research hospitals in each country. Although not comprehensive, and thus not authoritative, the data provide an indication of Canadian and U.S. activity. The most recent autm numbers show that the U.S. continued to be more successful than Canada at creating licences and earning licensing income.

In 2012, Canadian HEIs surveyed created approximately 16 licences per institution compared with about 35 in the U.S.28 The number of licences created increased marginally in Canada between 2007 and 2009 and then declined through to 2012. As a result, the creation of new licences and options decreased by 5.9 percent29 from the 2007 baseline. In contrast, the creation of new licences and options increased by 25 percent in the U.S. over the same period.

Licensing incomes at both Canadian and U.S. institutions increased steadily between 2009 and 2012, but the American HEIs surveyed generated significantly more revenues. In 2012, a Canadian institution received, on average, approximately C$2.2 million from licensing income compared with US$13.5 million for a U.S. institution. The difference between the two was roughly the same as in 2007, when a Canadian institution received, on average, approximately C$1.6 million from licensing income and a U.S. institution approximately US$12.6 million.


Canada continued to exhibit strength on measures related to the quality of knowledge production: our universities were strong performers in a second tier of countries in the global rankings; we enjoyed real "star power" in hosting leading researchers; and we continued to perform above the world average on research citation counts (relative impact index). However, we must not be complacent about our achievements — our investments in R&D (GERD and herd) have begun to lag those of competitor countries. We must keep pace, to remain competitive and to give Canada's universities and researchers the support they need to excel on the global stage.

23 Government of Canada, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage, 2007. Return to text

24 Given that the most recent granting council data available are for fiscal year 2013–2014, the 2007 list of federal priority and sub-priority areas is used for these calculations. Return to text

25 Of the three ranking systems, the Shanghai ranking places its emphasis almost exclusively on quantitative research indicators, whereas the THE and the QS rankings assign significant weighting to teaching indicators and reputation for excellence (as determined by surveys) respectively. Return to text

26 Thomson Reuters, The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds, 2014. Return to text

27 Observatoire des sciences et des technologies, Bibliometric Indicators on Intersectoral Collaboration of Canadian Universities (2004–2013): Methodological Note and Short Analysis, February 2015. Return to text

28 Association of University Technology Managers, Canadian Licensing Activity Survey: FY2012 and U.S. Licensing Activity Survey: FY2012, 2013. For Canada, the sample included 33 institutions. For the U.S., the sample included approximately 190 institutions. Return to text

29 All percentages here and below have been calculated based upon normalization of the numbers of reporting institutions for the years compared. Return to text