Buying and Selling Research and Development Services, 1997 to 2002

Julio Miguel Rosa, A. Rose & Pierre Mohnen


Research and development is a crucial activity in the innovation process. Not every firm is in a position to overcome constraints to R&D, such as costs. Those that perform R&D must choose between forming a partnership with other firms, governmental organisations, universities or doing it themselves internally. Others may sell R&D services or buy them. This study provides a statistical portrait of the strategies Canadian companies used in conducting research and development between 1997 and 2002. It is based on data from the Survey of Research and Development in Canadian Industry. During this time period, the majority of R&D spending, around 62%, was of internal origin, that is, it was conducted by the performer. The remaining 38% portion was comprised of two groups: one group representing 24% performed R&D on behalf of another organization, that is, they contracted in. The remaining 14% was conducted by another R&D performer, that is, they contracted out. An estimated 42% of research and development was conducted with no external partnerships. Foreign-controlled firms were much more heavily involved in selling R&D services than their Canadian counterparts. About 22% of all foreign-controlled firms conducted R&D for outside organizations, more than twice the proportion of only 9% of domestic performers. However, Canadian-controlled firms on average spent more on research and development. As a result, the 9% of Canadian-controlled performers allocated 23% of their total R&D spending to selling R&D services, virtually the same proportion as the 25% allocated by foreign-controlled firms.

Keywords: Research and Development, partnership

JEL classification: O32

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872