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Survey of Advanced Technology: Innovation and business practices, 2014

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Released: 2016-03-18


Over half (54.8%) of the enterprises surveyed were innovative from 2012 to 2014. That is, they introduced at least one type of innovation, according to data from the 2014 Survey of Advanced Technology.

Process innovation and organizational innovation were the most common types of innovation, with nearly one-third of the enterprises surveyed reporting such innovations during the period.

The utilities sector (51.3%) had the highest percentage of process innovators, closely followed by manufacturing (49.4%). Organizational innovation was also most common in utilities (47.0%) and manufacturing (40.6%) enterprises.

Product innovation was the next most common innovation, as 32.2% of industries surveyed reported this type of innovation. The manufacturing sector had the highest percentage of product innovators, at 43.9%.

The least common innovation involved marketing, with 30.7% of enterprises surveyed reporting marketing innovations during the period. The professional, scientific and technical services sector (33.8%) posted the highest percentage of marketing innovators.

In general, large enterprises were more innovative than their small and medium-sized counterparts. For example, 78.1% of large enterprises were innovative, compared with 64.5% of medium-sized enterprises and 53.5% of small enterprises.

Developing and implementing advanced technologies

Using advanced technologies can support an enterprise's innovation activities. The Survey of Advanced Technology also covered the means that were used by enterprises to acquire advanced technologies.

In 2014, 58.3% of enterprises purchased off-the-shelf advanced technology. The next most common means of technology acquisition were licensing (20.9%) and customizing or significantly modifying existing advanced technology (18.9%).

Business practices

The Survey of Advanced Technology also covered the use of advanced business practices by Canadian enterprises, specifically advanced product development, manufacturing and control management, quality management, co-operation, and other practices.

Overall, quality management practices were the most common, reported by over one-quarter of the enterprises surveyed. Quality management practices include continuous improvement (such as total quality management), used by 16.0% of enterprises, as well as business certification processes (11.5%) and quality management systems (10.5%).

Enterprises within the manufacturing sector (52.3%) were the most likely to report using quality management practices.

Manufacturing and control management practices were the second most common advanced business practice, with 23.3% of surveyed enterprises reporting them. Overall, 14.7% of enterprises used electronic work order management, while 9.2% used a just-in-time process.

Enterprises within the manufacturing sector (49.0%) reported the highest rate of manufacturing and control management practices.

  Note to readers

The Survey of Advanced Technology is an occasional survey that collects essential information about the extent to which Canadian enterprises use advanced technologies. Just under 12,000 enterprises were surveyed from a population of 85,000 enterprises, comprising 87 industry groupings, and stratified by employment size.

Cautionary note

While this survey's innovation component bears numerous similarities to that of the 2012 Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy, estimates from the two surveys are not directly comparable as a result of conceptual differences.

For example, the Survey of Advanced Technology covered enterprises with 10 or more employees, while the Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy only covered enterprises with 20 or more employees.

Similarly, the populations covered (industry categories) by each survey are not identical. For instance, the Survey of Advanced Technology did not cover a number of sectors, including cultural industries, finance and insurance, and management of companies and enterprises.


Innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service) or process, or a new marketing or organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.

Product innovation involves introducing into the market a new or significantly improved good or service.

Process innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved production process, distribution method, or support activity for the production of goods or services.

Marketing innovation is the implementation of a new marketing concept or strategy that differs significantly from the enterprise's existing marketing methods.

Organizational innovation takes places when an enterprise adopts a new organizational method as part of its business practices (including knowledge management), workplace organization or external relations.

Contact information

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