R&D in the Canadian North
January 26, 2013
Statistics Canada reports not very much R&D expenditures at all are taking place in the three northern territories. Meanwhile the oil sands has attracted huge R&D investments in both the public and private sectors.
- Gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD) are anticipated to amount to $30.0 billion in 2012, a 0.3% increase from R&D expenditures for 2011. Definition of GERD - Gross domestic expenditures on Research and Development (GERD) is the total value of intramural research and development expenditures (R&D) of all organizations in performing sectors.
- R&D activities provided employment to 149,923 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions in 2009 in Canada , the most recent year for which the R&D employment data are available. Professionals such as scientists, engineers and senior R&D administrators comprised 58% (or 86,964 FTE) of these highly qualified personnel.
- Territorial GERD was $13 M in 2010. $6 M by business; $5 M by the federal government and $2 M by territorial governments or their agencies.
- Canada’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program is the largest research and development support program aimed at the private sector. Based on the 2009 projections, the total value of federal SR&ED tax credit expenditure is approximately $ 3.6 billion. Recently the federal government has announced changes to the SR&ED program to improve the pre-approval process. The definition of what constitutes an eligible project has been narrowed.
- Extensive research is being carried out into various facets of the industry, especially in heavy oil and oil sands. Research and development is conducted by research organizations, educational institutions, industry associations, cooperative ventures and individual companies. The government of Alberta and private industry have each invested more than $1 billion in oil sands research and development to improve both economics and environmental performance of oil recovery projects. Much oil sands research takes place in Edmonton or Calgary, but a significant portion in the Ft.McMurray area as well.
The oil sands attracts huge research dollars, probably accounting for at least 10% of Canada’s total R&D effort. Hundreds of highly trained scientists and engineers figure out ways to separate oil from sand and to get bitumen out of the ground in the first place.
Surprisingly, the Stats Can data show a meager $13 M in GERD for the territories in 2010. More could be done in the north in the way of research given its huge geography and cold climate.
- d)Barrie McKenna, "Ottawa to streamline R&D tax-credit program", Globe and Mail, 25-Jan-13, p.B3.