Canadian colleges and institutes continue to occupy a critical space in Canada’s innovation ecosystem
Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) released the results of its latest 2017-2018 applied research survey. According to it, colleges and institutes continue to occupy a critical space in Canada’s innovation ecosystem.
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 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which 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.”
Colleges and institutes received over $296 million in 2017-2018 to support applied research. The majority comes from government sources, with 33% from the federal government. At $78 million, private sector contributions are very significant and demonstrate the value businesses derive from college and institute applied research services.
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.