Canadian business leaders identify essential ingredients for global competitiveness

Vancouver, BC — A new report by Mitacs, prepared with support of Canada’s Public Policy Forum, seeks to better understand factors that attract or deter multinational investment in Canadian R&D. Based on interviews with executives from Canadian subsidiary firms, Leveraging Canada’s Innovation Ecosystem identifies key drivers and barriers in attracting foreign direct investment in Canadian R&D — and highlights opportunities to improve Canada’s attractiveness as a destination for international research spending.

In an effort to support these opportunities, Mitacs has expanded partnerships with businesses, universities, and research organizations to provide more internships for young researchers; increased training opportunities that provide professional skills to graduate students and early-career researchers; and launched a pilot program — Converge — to provide the opportunity for Canadian companies and universities to work with multinationals and access global markets.

Here are the highlights from Leveraging Canada’s Innovation Ecosystem, as identified by business leaders.

Key drivers in attracting foreign R&D investment to Canada:

1.High standard of living and quality of life

2.Research excellence and a highly skilled workforce

3.Culture of entrepreneurship and start-up environment

4.Substantial subsidies for R&D

Barriers limiting foreign R&D investment in Canada:

1.Lack of coordinated access to R&D support and bureaucratic delays

2.Outdated intellectual property laws

3.Lack of communication and promotion for opportunities for collaboration

Opportunities to improve Canada’s attractiveness for R&D investment were identified:

1.Canada needs to better incentivize R&D by rebalancing direct and indirect support measures

2.Canada requires a coordinated, client-centric approach to incentivizing R&D

3.Canada needs to invest in training programs that grow the knowledge economy

Rob Annan, Chief Research Officer, Mitacs

“We at Mitacs believe that Canada has the necessary ingredients to be at the top of global competitiveness rankings for R&D. By leveraging and building on our strengths, and through supportive initiatives like Mitacs programs, Canada can surmount the challenges identified by business leaders. Doing so will make Canada an even more desirable country in which to invest, research, do business, and live.”

Mark Lievonen, President, Sanofi Pasteur

“Canada has provided an environment for Sanofi to grow and thrive, and we are proud to contribute to the country’s innovation sector.  There is a strong untapped potential for the Canadian innovation ecosystem to grow significantly, and the research from Mitacs provides helpful insights about how to make that happen. Addressing the barriers to investing in R&D would improve the health of Canadians and contribute to our economic prosperity.”

Quick facts:

  • Mitacs is a national, private not-for-profit organization that develops the next generation of innovators with vital skills through a suite of unique research and training programs.
  • Mitacs runs programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows: Accelerate, Elevate, Converge, Step, and Globalink.
  • In partnership with companies, government, research organizations, and universities, Mitacs is supporting a new economy using Canada’s most valuable resource — its people.

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