National Research Council Canada - Canada
National Research Council Canada
The National Research Council (NRC),66 Canada’s premier organization for research and development, is a government organization that provides innovation support, strategic research, and scientific and technical services to address industry needs in Canada. Established in 1916, the NRC’s scientists, engineers and business experts collaborate closely with thousands of Canadian firms, helping them to bring new technologies to market. NRC personnel enjoy a long history of innovation and have served as chief contributors to the development of a wide array of products including an artificial pacemaker, canola, the Crash Position Indicator, the Cesium Beam atomic clock, biofuels67 and computer animation.68
Representative Best Practices
- Robust technical and advisory services capabilities: The NRC helps Canadian enterprises to overcome workforce constraints and limited resources, accelerating design cycles and helping to identify product performance limits. Its 4,000 employees address pressing technical problems associated with the transfer, adoption and diffusion of technology. Technical service offerings include testing, certifications, calibration, prototyping, demonstrations, scale-up and consulting.
- Access to leading research facilities: The NRC offers Canadian businesses access to its research infrastructure and experts to optimize its use. The NRC’s 27 facilities augment the research capabilities in disciplines as varied as aerospace engineering and manufacturing, astronomy, high-throughput DNA sequencing, neutron beam facilities, photonics, biotechnology and nanotechnology. The facilities allow Canadian businesses to carry out “blue sky” R&D domestically while minimizing the costs, infrastructure requirements and risks that often accompany R&D and product development programmes.
- Licensing opportunities for commercialization-ready R&D solutions: With an expansive portfolio of innovations ready for commercialization, the NRC transfers patented technologies to its Canadian industry partners – helping businesses to develop “cohesive, integrated and market-ready solutions that attract investment and drive revenue”.69 Innovations in multi-dimensional MRI data software, air diffusion cathodes for fuel cells and radio frequency inhomogeneity are available for exploitation, helping Canadian enterprises to become more globally competitive.
- Research and business partnerships that accelerate R&D and commercialization: The NRC offers multiple forms of research project partnership models with industry partners. These partnership models offer bidirectional benefits: industry research partners benefit from a potential acceleration of the commercial development time, and NRC benefits from a deeper understanding of the commercial direction that a particular technology may be taking in the marketplace, thereby making its research priorities more commercially relevant.
NRC’s IRAP: An Effective Driver of Growth in Canadian SMEs
The NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) offers Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises at all stages of development an array of advisory services that “build their innovation capacity, understand technology issues and opportunities, and provides linkages to various experts”. The IRAP also provides SMEs with financial assistance and advice. IRAP has helped SMEs in a full range of sectors including food production, pharmaceuticals, energy, medical devices, and manufacturing materials, among many others.
The NRC recently conducted an audit of IRAP’s effectiveness. Among the audit’s findings:70
- Over the evaluation period (2007-2012), IRAP programme costs were about C$ 130 million per year, but the audit credited IRAP with the direct generation of increased wages and salaries among programme participants of slightly more than C$ 1.1 billion per year and incremental taxable income of about C$ 360 million per year – a return on investment of slightly more than 11 to one.
- Incremental participant employment attributable to IRAP assistance over the five-year period was measured at 8,564, of which some 78% were positions related to R&D.
- Attributable incremental annual revenue was estimated at approximately C$ 2.3 billion.