Editorial - 17-11

Guest Contributor
July 7, 2003

Canada’s corporate leaders may not have shown up in great numbers at last year’s National Innovation Summit. But when it comes to R&D, it appears as though business and government are singing from the same song book. A new report on corporate R&D spending shows that businesses still managed to increase their R&D spending in spite of powerful incentives to go the other way.

Excluding Nortel Networks Corp — its tumultuous tumble from grace is well documented — the next 99 top R&D companies managed a modest but respectable 6.5% increase in spending. R&D outlays are up in a variety of sectors from biotechnology and pharmaceuticals to aerospace and automotive.

This ongoing commitment to R&D places Canada’s innovative corporations in a strong position when the economy recovers and high-tech regains some of its investment luster. A recent study by Dr Douglas Barber demonstrates that Can-ada’s big R&D spenders are capable of doing their bit to meet the government’s ambitious innovation targets, based on past revenue growth (R$, April 16/03).

The potential for moving from 15th to 5th in global R&D should make the choices faced by the next prime minister much more favourable towards innovation-related investment.

If business and governments can see a good return on their investment, they’ll be willing to invest more in R&D. Several critical hurdles remain and will be the focus of the next RE$EARCH MONEY conference this fall. But the prospects for innovation and R&D look promising.

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