MRO Magazine

Innovations in Canadian manufacturing often shared for free

Ottawa, ON -- In 2007, although the majority (57%) of manufacturing plants in Canada using advanced technologi...


October 14, 2009
By MRO Magazine


Ottawa, ON — In 2007, although the majority (57%) of manufacturing plants in Canada using advanced technologies indicated they had bought them from other companies, four out of every 10 (42%) developed these technologies themselves or modified existing ones rather than buying them off the shelf, according to new research published by Statistics Canada.


These plants are the so-called “user innovators,” says StatsCan. They did not rely on manufacturers to simply supply them with technologies that they required. Rather, they were active participants in innovation. In fact, half of user innovators modified existing technologies, while the other half developed new ones.



This is important because the way in which firms acquire new technology has implications for the innovation system and the economy.


User innovations are being shared, most commonly at no charge. About 18% of these user innovators shared their innovations with other firms or institutions. More than half (54%) of these plants made the choice to share to allow a supplier to build a more suitable final product, indicating a symbiotic relationship.


User innovations are being diffused in the Canadian economy. About 26% of user innovators indicated that their innovations were adopted by another manufacturing firm to produce and supply the new or modified technology. Another 25% indicated their user innovations were adopted by other firms.


This evidence of innovation diffusion makes user innovators an important actor in the innovation system.


Use of intellectual property protection appears to increase the likelihood of sharing. More than half (53%) of user innovators used some method to protect the intellectual property resulting from their user innovations. Technology developers were far more likely than technology modifiers to protect the intellectual property.


This report is based on data from a follow-up to the 2007 Survey of Advanced Technology that targeted manufacturing plants with at least 20 employees and $250,000 in revenues. Only manufacturing plants that indicated they had acquired or integrated advanced technologies by customizing or significantly modifying existing advanced technology, or by developing new advanced technologies, received a questionnaire. This survey is part of a program in Statistics Canada’s Business Special Surveys and Technology Statistics Division to provide information on innovation and related activities.


The study “Measuring user innovation in Canadian manufacturing, 2007” is now available as part of the Business Special Surveys and Technology Statistics Division Working Papers series (88F0006X2009003, free), from the Publications module at