Science and technology

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Since 2009/2010, the federal government has been providing stimulus spending for science and technology (S&T) activities.

In 2009/2010, federal expenditures on S&T increased by 9.8%, rising from $10.6 billion in 2008/2009 to $11.6 billion. This is expected to continue into 2010/2011, with a forecast spending of $11.9 billion, a 2.2% increase from the previous year. However, spending on S&T for 2011/2012 is forecast to decline to $11.3 billion due to the planned winding down of spending for certain S&T activities.

S&T funding goes to projects inside and outside of the government. Inside the government, funding goes to S&T activities performed by federal government departments and agencies. Outside the government, it goes to S&T activities in areas such as higher education, the business sector, private non-profit organizations, foreign entities and others. In 2011/2012 about half ($5.8 billion) of S&T funding will go to activities within the government.

Accounting for inflation, federal government S&T spending reached $9.8 billion in 2009/2010, an increase of 46.5% over the ten-year period from 1999/2000 to 2009/2010.

S&T activities

S&T is a field divided into two main areas: research and development (R&D) activities and related scientific activities (RSA). Research and development is a set of activities directed towards improving and innovating products and processes from a technological point of view.

Related scientific activities include activities such as scientific data collection and information services, as well as administration of the performing sectors such as higher education, the business sector and private non-profit organizations, all of which support R&D activities.

It is forecast that in 2011/2012, $7.1 billion or 63.2% of federal S&T spending will be dedicated to R&D activities, while RSA will account for the remainder.

S&T expenditures are available for natural sciences and engineering and for social sciences and humanities. Over three-quarters (75.9%) of all federal government S&T spending was directed to natural sciences and engineering, and the rest was spent on social sciences and humanities in 2009/2010.

How much a country spends on R&D in a given year from all funding sources is called its gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD). In 2010, total R&D expenditures in natural sciences and engineering decreased 0.8% to $26.7 billion while R&D expendi­tures in the social sciences and humani­ties increased 1.3% to $2.5 billion, for a total GERD of $29.2 billion.

Spending objectives

For the 2009/2010 funding of R&D, the three most important objectives for federal extramural spending—that is, for the spending of organizations outside of the federal government, such as higher education, the business sector and private non-profit organizations—were the protection and improvement of human health ($1.4 billion), non-oriented research ($990 million) and industrial production and technology ($843 million).

For spending within the federal government, the three most important socio-economic objectives that tended to draw research dollars were energy ($544 million), agriculture ($390 million) and the protection and improvement of human health ($274 million).

Federal employees

In 2011/2012, federal departments and agencies are forecast to have a total of 39,052 full-time equivalent positions engaged in S&T activities. Of these positions, 14,636 will be in R&D and 2,192 will be in the administration of R&D. The remainder of these positions will be in RSA, with 21,511 in RSA activities and 712 in the administration of RSA.

In 2011/2012 almost 7 in 10 (67.6%) of all federal S&T personnel will be engaged in S&T activities related to natural sciences and engineering, with the rest allocated to social sciences and humanities. This figure has remained stable since 2007/2008 when the natural sciences and engineering field accounted for 69.7% of the estimated total personnel expenditures. In contrast, personnel in the social sciences and humanities accounted for 30.3% of the total personnel expenditures.

In 2009/2010, the majority of spending on federal S&T activities occurred in the National Capital Region ($3.2 billion), the area recognized as having the highest concentration of federal government personnel. Of the total 38,968 full-time equivalent positions involved in S&T in 2009/2010, 22,289 (57.2%) were located in the National Capital Region.

Chart 27.1 Federal expenditures on science and technology, by category
View data source for chart 27.1

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