Accelerating the transition from idea to market – Submission of the RSRI brief

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Accelerating the transition from idea to market – RSRI submits brief to public consultations on the Quebec Research and Innovation Strategy 2022.

(Quebec City, May 31, 2021) – The sector-based industrial research clusters (RSRI) have submitted their proposals for stimulating innovation as part of the public consultations on the Quebec Research and Innovation Strategy 2022 (SQRI). The RSRIs, made up of nine sector-based groups active in as many of the economy’s leading sectors, are unique in that they are present throughout the innovation process, from research to commercialization, and interact with every link in the chain. In their way of working, RSRIs are models of collaborative research, an approach that brings together academia and industry, optimizing investment and “de-risking” new technologies.

Download the Quebec RSRI brief (PDF)

The impact of the pandemic and three concerns

In their brief, the RSRIs point out that Quebec is not a bad pupil when it comes to innovation: “The broad diversification of our economy, our foothold in promising fields, and our pool of talented entrepreneurs are all signs of a strength in innovation.” Nonetheless, there is room for improvement. The RSRIs recall the particular context created by the pandemic and set out their concerns.

The pandemic was a general trauma for the global economy and societies, but it also represented an acceleration of innovation. For example, to cope with the restrictions, companies rushed to digitize their operations, while telecommuting, distance learning and videoconferencing became part of people’s daily lives. What’s more, several countries are preparing a recovery geared towards climate change, renewable energies and artificial intelligence…” If the pre-pandemic world was engaged in a race for innovation, it’s important to realize that the race will be even more frantic afterwards,” reads the brief. Quebec can compete, but the RSRIs raise three yellow flags in their brief:

  • Firstly, the downward trend in corporate investment in research and development. Over the period 2014-2018[1], which was nevertheless a period of dynamic growth for Quebec, these private investments fell from 2.42% of GDP (2014) to 2.17 5% of GDP (2018), although Quebec remained first in Canada in this respect.
  • Secondly, the multiplicity of innovation support organizations. The Quebec innovation ecosystem is made up of a large number of organizations. This reveals the fertility of the ecosystem, and highlights the need to harmonize expertise and support for entrepreneurs.
  • Thirdly, the difficulty of moving from idea to market. The maturation of innovations will be one of the main arenas of global competition in the years to come. To stay in the race, Quebec needs to increase the number of innovation projects and speed up their transition to the market.

Five recommendations

The RSRIs make five general recommendations, plus specific recommendations to stimulate innovation in each of the nine sectors that make up the RSRIs. We present the general recommendations here.

Recommendation No. 1: Leverage collaborative research to stimulate innovation and boost our economy

To enhance the potential of collaborative research, the RSRIs propose to :

  • Optimize the deployment of the main collaborative research support program, the PSO, a proven tool;
  • Provide funding for other effective, structuring programs that support collaborative research and respond to current trends and issues;
  • Maximize the contribution and impact of RSRIs, as leading agents of collaboration, by projecting their coordination and action across the entire research and innovation continuum.

Based on historical RSRI data, we estimate that an annual investment of $60 million in the OSP could generate $465 million in industrial R&D investment, while contributing to the training of nearly 5,800 highly qualified resources every year.

Recommendation No. 2: Help Québec companies integrate into global value chains

To improve its economic performance, Quebec must consider the process of transforming ideas into products as an integrated flow within global value chains. To this end, it is proposed to :

  • Dedicate an impact budget envelope for international collaborative research projects, enabling Quebec to integrate into global networks and play a leadership role;
  • Develop targeted initiatives such as technology roadmaps to foster the development of missing links in these global value chains, where Quebec has the potential to stand out;
  • Set up a centralized international program supporting 50% of the expenses of Quebec participants in joint international R&D projects.

Recommendation No. 3: Stimulate early innovation in companies

Companies struggle to find the financing to adequately support the early stages of innovation. In order to de-risk the most promising technologies and attract the private investment needed to bridge this gap in the innovation chain, it is proposed to :

  • Enhance funding for existing programs to support young companies in the early stages of innovation, including the Innovation program and Impulsion PME;
  • Maximize the impact of these programs and continue to position RSRIs as Investissement Québec’s preferred partners, making full use of RSRIs’ sector expertise, network and know-how;
  • Help Axelys achieve its mission of accelerating the development and transfer of public research results.

Recommendation 4: Boost collaboration between partners to accelerate innovation

In an innovation ecosystem that brings together a multitude of players active at several stages and in several spheres (research community, support organizations, funders, governments, etc.), better collaboration and coordination of organizations providing financial support for innovation projects is becoming essential to enable companies to accelerate their journey within the innovation ecosystem. The RSRIs confirm their determination to work towards optimizing this continuum, and to tie in as closely as possible with organizations set up by the government, such as Axelys and Investissement Québec, to name but a few.

To this end, it is proposed to :

  • Establish a practice of accompanying companies to accelerate their approach to other programs and funders. Intervening at various stages of a company’s journey through a range of services (intermediation, financing, coaching, transfer of innovation and market intelligence, in particular), RSRIs are in an excellent position to act as guides in the innovation chain.

Recommendation 5: Strengthen RSRI capacities to increase spinoffs in Quebec

The innovation ecosystem is being transformed by the arrival of new players such as Axelys, the Quebec Innovation Council and the strengthening of Investissement Québec. RSRIs will be called upon to play a more important role in sharing their expertise with a growing number of companies, as well as with these new players. RSRIs will be called upon as never before to act as support or referral entities for the Impulsion PME program, or to find companies likely to acquire licenses from Axelys.

RSRIs are also involved in various government strategies, including the creation of world-class innovation zones aimed at increasing the commercialization of innovations, exports, local and foreign investment and business productivity.

It is therefore proposed to :

  • Strengthen the capacity of RSRIs by ensuring that they have the resources they need to fully play their role as facilitators and advisors in a context where they are increasingly challenged by the ongoing transformation process;
  • Increase the RSRI operating budget by $1.8 million annually (for all 9 RSRIs).

About RSRI

The mission of the sector-based industrial research clusters (RSRI) is to create and support a collaborative innovation ecosystem that fosters the development of strategic sectors of the economy, to the benefit of companies, research centers and Quebec society as a whole. Representing Quebec’s flagship sectors, RSRIs are in a strong position to support Quebec’s economic fabric in its quest for growth. These nine groups have been designated by the Quebec government to act as intermediation and funding organizations for collaborative research and development (R&D). They are : Center québécois de recherche et de développement de l’aluminium (CQRDA), Consortium québécois sur la découverte du médicament (CQDM), Consortium de recherche et d’innovation en aérospatiale au Québec (CRIAQ), Consortium de recherche et innovations en bioprocédés industriels du Québec (CRIBIQ), the Consortium de recherche et d’innovation en transformation métallique (CRITM), InnovÉÉ – innovation en énergie électrique, the Consortium industriel de recherche et d’innovation en technologies médicales du Québec (MEDTEQ), the Pôle de recherche et d’innovation en matériaux avancés (PRIMA Québec) and Prompt.

RSRI in figures

The nine RSRIs currently represent a pool of over 1,300 members from the various industrial sectors of which they are composed. Nearly 80% of these members are actively involved in research and development.

RSRI in figures (aggregate data 2015-2020)

Projects and investments supported by RSRI and MEI
Number of projects selected (a)791
Total value of projects financed744 M$
Value of RSRI commitments (b)225 M$
Value of industrial commitments348 M$
Value of other public commitments170 M$
Average value of RSRI-funded projects940 K$

Notes :

a- Includes international projects

b- Amounts directed to universities, colleges and research centers by RSRIs under the PSO, INNOV-R, PARTENAR-IA programs

Impact to date
Number of highly qualified people involved in projects (including students, trainees)4 377
Number of patents and licenses filed557
Number of solutions, processes implemented and technologies marketed1 749
Number of jobs maintained, created (industrial and academic)3 422
Networking and animation
Number of memberships to date+ de 1300
Proportion of industrial members~ 80 %
Proportion of SME members (under 250 employees)~ 68 %
Number of events organized
during the period
+ de 1500

[1] Source  ISQ : https://statistique.quebec.ca/fr/document/depenses-de-recherche-et-developpement-r-d/tableau/depenses-intra-muros-de-r-d-dird-en-pourcentage-du-pib-quebec-autres-provinces-territoires-et-canada

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For further information

Marie-Pierre Ippersiel
PRIMA
514 235-1627

Gilles Déry
CQRDA
418 690-6654

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