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Survey shows Canadian firms continue to innovate

July 21, 2009

In contrast to recent reports lamenting the lack of Canadian corporate innovation, a new American Express survey reported in the Financial Post suggests Canadian business owners are embracing the recession as an opportunity to step up investments in innovation. According to the survey, 61% of business owners are planning on investing in innovation and/or R&D this year. The FP trumpets this as a positive sign, though “hiring a student to make cold calls” hardly seems like cutting edge investment – and if nearly 40% of companies surveyed aren’t planning even that, then it seems like there’s still a lot of work to do. Furthermore, nearly 20% of business owners don’t plan on investing in innovation, since they believe that it doesn’t apply to their businesses. Nonetheless, more than half (55%) the businesses surveyed suggest that the economic downturn represents an opportunity to increase their innovation spending.

The numbers (from the FP site):

Percent of revenue owners plan to spend on innovation or research and development this year:

13% plan to spend 10%;

10% plan to spend 6% to 10%;

28% plant to spend 1% to 5%.

19% plan to spend 0%

Effect of this recession on innovation:

55% say it has caused them to accelerate innovation;

45% say it has caused them to slow or suspend innovation.

How they plan to finance innovation efforts:

66% will reinvest revenue;

32% will use personal funds;

20% will use bank loans or credit cards;

7% will apply for a government grant.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2009 10:53

    Hi Rob! Thanks for yesterday’s shoutout. As for the innovation cited in the FP article…hmmm. It makes me wonder about the survey and what they intended to find before they started. Btw, I didn’t notice any examples of R&D investment.

  2. anon permalink
    July 28, 2009 09:42

    What is “research and development”? Letting companies define r&d leaves the survey without much meaning. My experience in Canadian industry is that r&d is sometimes nothing more than writing a straightforward piece of software.

    • Rob Annan permalink*
      July 28, 2009 09:46

      @anon: I totally agree – the article mentioned “hiring a student to make cold calls” as an example of ‘innovation’. Even with this ridiculously low standard, 40% if Canadian companies won’t be ‘innovating’ this year.

  3. August 27, 2009 16:27

    Interesting article. This is great news from my perspective (sred business; however, i find it interesting that only 7% will apply for grant money, perhaps companies are not familiar with the many funding programs available.

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