Top Space Focused Companies Critical of Federal Research and Development Funding

SpaceRef has obtained a report by four of Canada’s ten largest space companies in which they are critical of the federal governments implementation of research and development (R&D) funding as outlined in the governments Science and Technology strategy “Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage.” One of the reasons cited is that “the pendulum has swung too far away from direct funding for companies at the later stages of R&D toward more funding for universities to perform basic “public good” R&D in collaboration with the private sector.”


The statement is included as part of the Submission to the Expert Panel Review of Federal Support to Research and Development and is expected to be released on the Review of Federal Support to R&D website in early March.
The advanced copy of the report, which describes itself in the introduction as “the combined work of ABB Canada, Bristol Aerospace, Composites Atlantic and Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA)” also indicates that:
1. The government contracting process is not working well and it impacts negatively on industrial competitiveness.
2. Simply putting universities and the private sector together in university-led research
initiatives will not in itself solve our problems. While universities are an important part of
this equation, there needs to be more guidance from industry at the early stages to
determine research paths, and industry must take the lead when research is nearing
commercialization.
3. The role of government as “first user” of innovative technology should be recognized by Canada as it is by our trading partners.
4. Canada is out of step with its international partners in a number of areas, who now target R&D investment at areas tied to economic activity, not necessarily towards internal
government needs, which leads to Canadian industry being at an extreme disadvantage in export markets.

The report was commissioned by the federal conservative government last year and is part of a larger review of federal programs that support business innovation. It covers tax incentive programs such as the scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) program, programs that support business R&D through general support (such as the Industrial Research Assistance Program) and sector-specific support (like the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative) plus programs that support business-focused R&D through federal granting councils and other departments and agencies including research at universities and colleges (such as the various Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research).
As outlined in the Review of Federal Support to R&D website, the reports are intended to:
…build on the evidence presented in Innovation and Business Strategy: Why Canada Falls Short, a 2009 report by the Council of Canadian Academies that examined why the business strategies of Canadian companies are less reliant on innovation than their counterparts in other countries. The review will also respond to State of the Nation, a 2008 report by the Science, Technology and Innovation Council that drew attention to Canada’s comparatively poor performance in transforming new knowledge into innovation. Both reports underscored the challenges facing the Canadian economy in terms of productivity growth and drew a link to low business expenditures on R&D and low rates of commercialization of new products and services.
Submission to the Expert Panel Review of Federal Support to Research and Development

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