MRO Magazine

Industrial R&D spending to see big drop in mining/oil and gas

Ottawa – Spending on industrial research and development (R&D) is anticipated to reach $15.6 billion in 2013, down 2.8% from 2012, Statistics Canada reports. While industrial R&D spending increased from 2010 to 2012, it remains...


Ottawa – Spending on industrial research and development (R&D) is anticipated to reach $15.6 billion in 2013, down 2.8% from 2012, Statistics Canada reports. While industrial R&D spending increased from 2010 to 2012, it remains below its pre-recession peak of $16.8 billion in 2007.

Most sectors anticipate declines in R&D spending from 2012 to 2013, ranging from a 0.9% decrease in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting to a 14.5% drop in mining, oil and gas extraction. Meanwhile, utilities anticipate an increase of 11.9%.

Spending on R&D in the manufacturing sector is anticipated to fall 2.8% from 2012 to $7.3 billion in 2013. Within this sector, communications equipment R&D is anticipated to decline by $142 million to $1.4 billion, while aerospace products and parts R&D is expected to increase by $46 million to $1.4 billion.

Industries in the service sector anticipate spending $7.1 billion on R&D in 2013, down $123 million from 2012. Most of the decline is expected in wholesale trade, down $115 million to $1.3 billion.

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Industrial research and development concentrated in engineering and technology in 2011

For the first time, industrial R&D data are available by field of science or technology. There are four major fields of science or technology: natural and formal sciences, engineering and technology, medical and health sciences and agricultural sciences. Data on detailed fields of science or technology are also available.

In 2011, the most recent year for which these data are available, engineering and technology accounted for 76% or $12.1 billion of industrial R&D spending. The three leading fields within engineering and technology were electrical and electronic engineering and information technology ($3.2 billion), mechanical engineering ($2.7 billion) and software engineering ($2.5 billion).

Natural and formal sciences, accounting for 12% of industrial R&D spending, ranked second in 2011 at $1.9 billion. This major field included computer and information sciences, excluding software ($810 million), and earth and related environmental sciences ($485 million).

Medical and health sciences accounted for 11% of industrial R&D spending in 2011 at $1.7 billion. Within this major field, clinical ($508 million) and basic medicine ($504 million) led the way, followed by medical biotechnology ($335 million).

Agricultural sciences accounted for 2% of industrial R&D in 2011 at $290 million. These new fields of science or technology data highlight that R&D activities can cross industrial sectors. For instance, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector spent $112 million on R&D in 2011, while over twice this amount was spent on R&D in agricultural sciences.

The $2.0 billion worth of R&D activities performed in 2011 by scientific R&D services industry can now be categorized into fields of science or technology. Within scientific R&D services, 57% of R&D spending went to three detailed science or technology fields within the major field of engineering and technology: electrical and electronic engineering and information technology ($753 million); software engineering ($195 million); and other engineering and technologies ($190 million). The medical and health sciences major field received 26% of R&D spending or $514 million.

Provincial distribution of research and development

Industrial R&D spending continued to occur predominately in Ontario ($7.7 billion) and Quebec ($4.7 billion) in 2011. R&D spending in Ontario rose by almost 10% from 2010, while in Quebec it was virtually unchanged. Among the other provinces, industrial R&D spending increased in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and declined in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta and British Columbia.

Research and development personnel

There were 140,423 personnel performing R&D in 2011, up 0.1% from 2010. The professionalization of R&D personnel is reflected in the shrinking proportion of support staff (now 6%) and the growing share of scientists and engineers (now 67%). The share of technical staff remained largely unchanged at 27%.