Centralize Ottawa’s $5B in R&D funding

Suite à l’étude au problème de recherchere & développement au Canada.

Voici un article qui explique les recommandations pour améliorer cette déficience.


Extrait de: Centralize Ottawa’s $5B in R&D funding, By John Manley, Financial Post,  Oct 17, 2011

Smaller firms often don’t know support exists

On paper, Canada should be leading the world when it comes to innovation. Our workforce is well educated. Our banking system is strong and corporate tax rates are competitive.

The reality, however, is that Canada lags far behind most other developed countries. Canada ranks in the bottom third among OECD countries in business spending on research and development. And our productivity growth rate is less than half the OECD average.

This is a serious threat to our future prosperity. It is why the federal government established an independent panel to look at how best to support R&D in Canada.

Led by Tom Jenkins, executive chairman of the Canadian software firm OpenText, panel members examined: tax incentive programs, granting councils and other initiatives designed to help businesses innovate. Their final report contains a series of practical recommendations that would make more Canadian companies globally competitive.

1.      The simplification of the R&D tax credit system would be welcome news to small and medium-sized businesses — as would the increased access to risk capital through the Business Development Bank.

2.      Directing BDC to increase its work in partnership with angel investors, venture capital firms and growth equity funds would begin to address this problem.

Perhaps the most important recommendation in the panel’s report is its call for business to play a more direct role in how Ottawa allocates its innovation budget.

The federal government spends about $5-billion a year on R&D, spread over 60 programs across 17 different government departments.

Many of these programs lack a business focus. A proposed Industrial Research and Innovation Council (IRIC) would change all of that. The council would be a national arm’s-length funding agency for federal business innovation programming that is demand-driven and collaborative in nature. It would give business a seat at the decision-making table.

Other economic actors have their own federal granting agencies, such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. It makes sense that there should be a separate granting body for business innovation.

One of IRIC’s first tasks must be to simplify the process for obtaining federal government support for R&D initiatives.

Often, businesses — especially smaller companies — do not even bother applying for federal assistance because the process is too complex, too cumbersome and too time-consuming. They often don’t know where to start or where to turn if they have questions.

A “one-stop shop” approach, with a standard application form, would significantly improve the process.

The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, among others, have all benefited from adopting the common delivery model. In Canada, the idea has previously been endorsed by the Expert Panel on Commercialization and the Competition Policy Review Panel.

The creation of a central granting body for innovation would make more businesses aware that there is government help available. When the Jenkins panel asked companies why they had never used a federal program before, more than half said it was because they did not know the support existed. Obviously, that has to change.

The solutions the panel has proposed are ambitious but practical. I hope that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gary Goodyear, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, start implementing them without delay.

John Manley is chief executive of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives