The expert panel that reported on research and development funding on Monday has brought welcome recognition to the need for Canada to support innovation companies more effectively, Communitech CEO Iain Klugman says.

“As we’ve shown in Waterloo Region, Canada does not lack for innovative entrepreneurs eager to build the global companies of tomorrow,” Klugman said. “This report not only acknowledges the need to support these companies, but to do so in a targeted, intentional way.”

The government-appointed panel, led by Waterloo’s Tom Jenkins, executive chairman of OpenText, called for sweeping changes to help Canadian companies compete more effectively on the world stage.

The current funding system provides $5 billion annually in federal and provincial tax credits for innovative businesses, but it is “unnecessarily complicated and confusing to navigate” Jenkins said in Ottawa, where he released the panel’s report on Monday.

“Going forward, innovations may well happen outside Canada” unless this money is directed to where it is most likely to benefit, Jenkins warned.

The six-member panel spent the past year surveying more than 1,000 businesses, meeting with 160 groups and examining 228 written submissions. Its 148-page report calls for a streamlined and restructured funding delivery system that would be overseen by a new, arm’s-length Industrial Research and Innovation Council, and include an expanded Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP).

The report also recommends:

–         Simplifying the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program to help small- and medium-sized enterprises grow

–         Making support for business innovation a core consideration in government purchasing decisions

–         Overhauling the National Research Council into a constellation of collaborative agencies involving business, the university sector and provinces

–         Helping high-growth innovative firms by setting up new funds to provide risk capital

–         Designating a federal minister responsible for innovation to improve co-ordination and impact of efforts to support business innovation

The full report is available here.

About The Author

Anthony Reinhart
Director, Editorial Strategy

Anthony Reinhart is a veteran journalist who left the Globe and Mail to join Communitech in 2011. Tony has covered everything from crime, politics and courts to business, the arts and sports, and his writing has won numerous journalism awards. He is Communitech's Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer.