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Research and development of Canadian private non-profit organizations, 2017 (intentions) and 2015 (actual)

Released: 2017-09-15

Private non-profit in-house research and development

$178 million


7.9% increase

(annual change)

Spending intentions on research and development activities for 2017

Private non-profit organizations intend to spend $178 million on in-house research and development (R&D) in 2017, up 7.9% from the 2016 revised intentions of $165 million.

Current in-house R&D expenditures of the private non-profit organizations are expected to rise 8.8% from the 2016 revised intentions to $174 million. The remaining $5 million are expected to go towards capital purchases.

Actual spending on R&D activities in 2015

In-house R&D spending increased in 2015

In 2015, the most recent year for which detailed in-house R&D spending data are available, private non-profit organizations (such as associations, foundations and charities) undertaking R&D related to human health, social development, environment and the advancement of knowledge spent $159 million on total in-house R&D activities, up 3.9% from 2014. The vast majority (96%) of the total in-house R&D spending, $152 million, went to current expenditures.

Spending on R&D wages and salaries rose by 8.5% from $82 million in 2014 to $89 million in 2015. This spending category continued to represent the majority (59%) of current in-house R&D expenditures. The increase spending on wages and salaries reflected a shift in the distribution of R&D employees towards senior R&D researchers in 2015.

In 2015, 43% of R&D employees were researchers including scientists, social scientists and engineers, and senior research managers. The other 57% were R&D technical, administrative and support staff. In contrast, this distribution tilted the other way in 2014, when R&D technical and support staff accounted for 63% of R&D employees and researchers 37%.

The remaining current R&D expenditures were distributed among all other current R&D costs ($25 million), R&D materials ($23 million) and services to support R&D activities ($15 million). R&D support services include costs for on-site consultants and researchers who provide direct services that are integrated into the private non-profit organizations' in-house R&D activities.

R&D capital spending declines

Private non-profit organizations spent $7 million on R&D capital in 2015, down from $13 million in 2014 and $21 million in 2013. Spending on machinery and equipment totalled $6 million in 2015, accounting for almost all R&D capital spending for the year.

R&D spending focused on natural sciences and engineering

Private non-profit organizations continued to focus the majority (94%) of their in-house R&D spending ($149 million) on the natural sciences and engineering in 2015, up 6.4% from 2014 ($140 million). In contrast, in-house R&D spending in the social sciences and humanities by private non-profit organizations declined by $3 million in 2015 to $10 million.

The importance of natural sciences and engineering R&D to this sector's in-house R&D spending reflected the high concentration of organizations undertaking R&D intended to improve human health outcomes within the survey population. Medical and health sciences continued to lead this sector's in-house R&D spending at $118 million in 2015, down from $126 million in 2014.

Natural and formal sciences saw in-house R&D spending by private non-profit organizations increase from $7 million in 2014 to $26 million in 2015. Included in the natural and formal sciences R&D are physical, chemical and biological sciences, as well as mathematics and computer and information sciences.

Chart 1  Chart 1: In-house research and development (R&D) expenditures of private non-profit organizations, by field of R&D
In-house research and development (R&D) expenditures of private non-profit organizations, by field of R&D

Private non-profit organizations depend on government funding of in-house R&D

Federal, provincial and territorial governments continued to be the leading sources of funding for in-house R&D activities of private non-profit organizations in 2015. In fact, governments provided over half ($92 million) of all funding for private non-profit organizations' in-house R&D.

All other Canadian sources combined funded $22 million of the R&D performed by private non-profit organizations in 2015, with foreign organizations funding the remaining $10 million.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Sources of funding for in-house research and development by private non-profit organizations in 2015
Sources of funding for in-house research and development by private non-profit organizations in 2015

Previous R&D spending leads to new innovative services

In 2015, 7 in 10 private non-profit organizations indicated that their total expenditures for R&D performed in-house and outsourced in the previous three years led to new or significantly improved services. These services included the transfer of knowledge to physicians, first responders, patients and the general public. Unlike business enterprises where new or improved goods were the primary results of R&D activities, private non-profit organizations focused on services.

Fewer R&D personnel in private non-profit organizations

Performing R&D in private non-profit organizations provided employment to 1,457 full-time equivalents (FTE) in 2015, down from 1,516 in 2014.

Total R&D personnel included 65 on-site FTE contractors that were hired to perform specialized project-based R&D work under supervision and direction of the contracting organizations. Some of the 595 FTE senior R&D project managers and researchers are responsible for directing the work of on-site contractors. Technicians and support staff (797 FTE) comprised the remaining important category of R&D employees.

  Note to readers

Research and development non-profit organizations

For purposes of measuring research and development (R&D) performance, private non-profit organizations include voluntary health organizations, private philanthropic foundations and private research institutes. Private non-profit organizations that are controlled and financed by government (at least 50%) or affiliated with higher education institutions are excluded from the survey population. R&D expenditures for excluded private non-profit organizations are included in the R&D expenditures for the government and higher education sectors. A change to a private non-profit organization's mandate or funding structure may result in the addition of a new unit to or the removal of an existing unit from the survey population. This may also cause variability within the statistical data. Private non-profit organizations included in the survey population previously made expenditures on or payments for R&D.

In-house R&D expenditures

In-house R&D expenditures are a measure of R&D performance. For each private non-profit organization, in-house R&D measures the amount spent on R&D performed by in-house R&D personnel, including on-site R&D consultants and contractors.

Contact information

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