Indicators and targets: Strong and productive research & development collaborations

 Jobs and innovation: Tracking progress and results


  • Double the percentage of companies engaged in collaborations with higher education research institutions by 2025

Research and development collaboration drives innovation by bringing together businesses, post-secondary institutions and others to co-develop solutions to complex problems and prepare young Canadians for the jobs of the future.

Innovation is about doing old things in new ways, doing new things in unexpected ways, solving old problems with new solutions, and utilizing technology to improve economic and societal outcomes (Lynch, 2010). When innovating, enterprises can benefit from co-operation partnerships—active collaboration on joint innovation projects with other organizations—which allow them to access knowledge and technologies from other organizations. In order to stay competitive, firms have to identify and leverage knowledge produced beyond the borders of their own organizations as part of the innovation process. Moreover, research has suggested that firms increasingly use R&D alliances to complement in-house R&D efforts in response to competitive pressures (Science Technology & Society, 2017).

From 2015 to 2017, 17.4% of Canadian enterprises engaged in co-operation partnerships in order to foster their innovation activities (Figure 7.1). Larger Canadian firms, those with 250-plus employees, were more likely than their smaller counterparts to co-operate with other organizations to develop or implement innovations.

Figure 7.1: Percentage of enterprises engaged in co-operation partnerships on innovation activities, by types of partners

Types of innovation co-operation partners, 2015 to 2017 % of enterprises that co-operated % of all enterprises
Suppliers of equipment, materials, components or software 57.7 10.0
Parent, affiliated or subsidiary businesses 36.9 6.4
Clients or customers from the private sector 34.2 6.0
Consultants and commercial laboratories 22.7 3.9
Competitors or other businesses in the sector 22.3 3.9
Universities, colleges or other higher education institutions 18.6 3.2
Clients or customers from the public sector 13.6 2.4
Government, public or private research institutes 13.1 2.3
Other co-operation partners 13.9 2.4


New data from Statistics Canada's Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy tracks collaboration by measuring co-operation partnerships on innovation activities between enterprises and other organizations.


Statistics Canada, Table 27-10-0178-01

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) estimates

Collaboration between universities and industry is an important category of R&D and studies have shown the importance of university-industry collaboration on R&D on firm performance and business productivity growth. In 2017, Canada ranked 17th amongst OECD countries for incidence of university and industry collaboration as report by the World Economic Forum (WEF, 2018) (Figure 7.2). Although Canada's performance is above the OECD average, it is still lagging behind the top performers. In response, the Government has introduced a series of initiatives that foster collaboration.

In Budget 2018, the Government announced over $1 billion in new investments to support university-industry partnerships through the granting councils and other federal agencies. The Innovation Superclusters Initiative, announced in Budget 2017, facilitates new partnerships and collaborations between businesses, post-secondary institutions, and other participants to drive innovation. Canada's National Research Council (NRC) is expanding its collaboration with Canadian companies to ensure that they have access to the right technical expertise and infrastructure for each stage of their growth. The Strategic Innovation Fund is fostering R&D collaboration between academia, not-for-profits and the private sector.

Figure 7.2: Incidence of University-industry collaboration on R&D

Text version
Ranking OECD's Countries Incidence of University-Industry Collaboration
1 Switzerland 5.8
2 United States 5.7
3 Israel 5.7
4 Finland 5.6
5 Netherlands 5.6
6 United Kingdom 5.4
7 Germany 5.4
8 Belgium 5.3
9 Sweden 5.2
10 Ireland 5
11 New Zealand 4.8
12 Luxembourg 4.8
13 Austria 4.8
14 Denmark 4.8
15 Iceland 4.7
16 Japan 4.7
17 Canada 4.6
18 Korea, Rep. 4.4
19 Australia 4.3
20 France 4.2
21 Portugal 4.2
22 Lithuania 4.1
23 Estonia 3.9
24 Czech Republic 3.9
25 Italy 3.8
26 Slovenia 3.8
27 Mexico 3.6
28 Chile 3.5
29 Turkey 3.5
30 Spain 3.5
31 Hungary 3.4
32 Slovak Republic 3.3
33 Poland 3.2
34 Latvia 3.1
35 Greece 2.5
n/a OECD Average 4.4


The Global Competitiveness Index Historical Dataset 2007-2017