05/07/2013 06:22 EDT | Updated 07/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Canadian Research Supporting Canadian Business

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Employee Danny Crawford, left, cuts a special film to cover a flask while research and development chemist John Pantzer checks the compatibility of a natural lemon fragrance at the J.R. Watkins production facility in Winona, Minnesota, U.S., on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Watkins Inc., founded in 1868, is a manufacturer of health remedies, baking products, and other household items. Photographer: Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In several key industrial sectors, Canada has lower research and development (R&D) intensity than the OECD average. The Science, Technology and Innovation Council's State of the Nation 2010 report and other reports all confirm this fact -- Canadian business R&D intensity lags other developed countries. This gap continues despite a high level of federal support for R&D provided indirectly, through tax credits, and directly, through various programs.

Canada's ability to gain a competitive advantage in the global economy increasingly depends on industry's R&D intensity and the success in translating basic science and knowledge into commercial products that generate wealth and improve the lives of Canadians.

With a view to further improving the country's economy and long-term prosperity, a few years ago we asked Opentext Chairman Tom Jenkins to lead an expert panel to review federal support for Canadian R&D. We asked the panel to review existing policies, and recommend new ways to help kickstart business investment in R&D.

The Jenkins Report noted that Canada does not have an organization solely dedicated to supporting business R&D and suggested that "there is now also the clear opportunity for the National Research Council of Canada to address Canada's large-scale research collaboration gap..." and that "there is both the need and opportunity to focus and reorganize the NRC's national assets to more effectively and strategically support innovation in Canada."

To respond to the panel's recommendation, the NRC will now focus on the identified research needs of Canadian businesses. The refocused NRC will support Canadian business by becoming a research and technology organization, similar to Germany's very successful Fraunhofer Institute -- Europe's largest application-oriented research organization -- which undertakes applied research of direct benefit to private and public enterprise and to society.

With this change, the NRC is returning to these historic roots by renewing its focus on industrial research, new growth and business development.

Whether it's a large aerospace company with a new innovative idea or a small manufacturing company looking to improve the efficiency of their production line, the NRC will have the tools they need to innovate and grow their business.

Our Government encourages all businesses -- small, medium or large -- in need of support to bring their ideas to market to contact the NRC.

The refocused NRC is now open for business.

Gary Goodyear

Minister of State (Science and Technology)