11/02/2015 15:27 EST | Updated 11/02/2016 01:12 EDT

R&D spending slows in Canada in 2014, decrease led by biggest firms, study says

TORONTO — Research and development spending declined sharply at some of Canada's biggest companies in fiscal 2014, according to a report released Monday by innovation tracker Research Infosource Inc.

The study found that overall, such spending by the Top 100 R&D companies in Canada fell a combined 1.6 per cent last year, compared with a 4.1 per cent increase in fiscal 2013.

In dollar terms, that represented a drop to $12.3 billion from $12.5 billion.

However, the report says that while R&D spending fell sharply at some of the largest companies, including Bombardier and BlackBerry, it increased strongly at other firms.

Overall, 69 companies posted spending increases versus 30 where spending decreased, while there was no change at one company: Suncor Energy.

Even though R&D spending fell 7.8 per cent at Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B), it remained in top spot in terms of overall spending at $2 billion, while BlackBerry (TSX:BB) was still No. 2 at $785.3 million despite having cut its R&D investment by 40.7 per cent.

"Economic and financial headwinds have affected the country's leading R&D companies," Research Infosource CEO Ron Freedman said in a statement accompanying the report.

"What's different this year is that spending was down — often substantially — at seven of the 10 largest performers, whereas smaller performers managed strong gains."

The Canadian Press