AUCC advocates greater direct support for industry

Guest Contributor
March 2, 2011

The Expert Review Panel on Research and Development is being urged to recommend a greater emphasis on direct and targeted support for innovation by reallocating a portion of the scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) tax credit and expanding funding for large-scale, transformational research projects.

The recommendations are part of wide-ranging submission by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) to the panel, which is tasked with providing advice to Industry Canada on how to best allocate federal support for business R&D and innovation.

"The relatively low levels of BERD (business expenditures on R&D) suggest that Canada's strong focus on indirect support through the tax systems is inefficient at generating broader innovation activity," states the submission, entitled Canada's Universities: Partners in the business of innovation.

The AUCC argues that universities can play an even greater role in boosting Canadian productivity growth and business R&D through greater collaboration, tailoring of intellectual property agreements, expansion of bridging programs such as the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence and the use of small-scale innovation vouchers for businesses.

It also weighs in on government procurement, advocating that the pilot Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program allocate a portion of its funding to companies that partner with universities or are spun off from universities or public labs.

More effective measures to stimulate BERD are also recommended to increase industry demand for PhDs, MBAs and other advanced degree holders. That could include an expansion of programs such as the MITACS-Accelerate program.

AUCC also suggests that greater coordination is required for the 250+ federal programs aimed at stimulating business innovation. The Industrial Research Assistance Program is one of several key organizations that could be used as a "network of concierges for SMEs", identifying the best programs for assistance and creating customized solutions for business. Eliminating challenges SMEs face when partnering with universities would go far in boosting the innovative capacity of business, it states.


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