Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Presentation: Tom Brzustowski: Suggestive Patterns in Canadian Industrial R&D Spending

Tom Brzustowski (ex-NSERC president, now University of Ottawa RBC Financial Group Professor in the Commercialization of Innovation and Chair of the board Institute for Quantum Computing, Waterloo) is giving a talk this Friday January 16 entitled "Looking for Suggestive Patterns in Canadian Industrial R&D Spending".

R&D spending is an imperfect, but widely used, measure of innovation. This paper describes the search for suggestive patterns in Canadian industrial R&D spending, as reported in the data published annually by Re$earch Infosource Inc. A very important feature of this proprietary data base is that the companies involved are named, and thus the data can be combined with information from other sources.

The discussion has three parts. The first deals with the "calibration" of the data base, and a discussion of its limitations, beginning with the reporting of R&D spending. The second describes and explains the performance of a number of selected corporations, expressed in terms of their revenues, R&D spending, and the R&D intensity (RDI), shown as time series for 1999 - 2006, and extending to 2007 in some cases. The selection of companies is made to illustrate typical behaviour and also to reveal and explain some unexpected patterns. The RDI is the percentage of revenues spent on innovation. It is useful independently of its components, because it has been linked to the time dimension or "velocity" in business, in this case the frequency of innovation.

The final part deals with sector-wide patterns that suggest the way in which public policies and support for industrial R&D might be tailored to fit better with the different rhythms of R&D in different businesses.

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