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Bombardier blows past BlackBerry as Canada’s top R&D spender

Bombardier's C-Series commercial jet takes off on its first flight on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 in Montreal. Bombardier blew past BlackBerry as Canada’s top R&D spender.


Bombardier Inc. has surged past BlackBerry Ltd. to become Canada's top research and development spender.

Bombardier, which is developing the Cseries commercial jets, spent $1.9-billion in 2012, up 42 per cent from 2011, according to an annual survey of the country's 100 leading R&D companies by Research Infosource Inc..

BlackBerry, which had topped the list for the previous three straight years, spent $1.5-billion, down from $1.54-billion in 2011.

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The smart phone maker has run into major problems and has announced several rounds of layoffs amid plummeting market share.

Bombardier's move into the No. 1 spot helped make aerospace the country's largest R&D industry. It marked the first time in the survey's history that the aerospace sector spent more than the communications and telecommunications equipment industry.

Overall spending by the 100 companies on the list rose 12.6 per cent.

But Research Infosource chief executive Ron Freedman said the numbers are heavily skewed by 27 of the largest research spenders and doesn't reflect what's happening overall.

Spending by the remaining 73 companies fell 3.8 per cent last year. More than 20 companies on the list spent less in 2012 than the year before.

Mr. Freedman pointed out that business spending on R&D, after inflation, has been declining in Canada for the past decade.

Canada's privates sector chronically spends less on R&D versus other developed countries.

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But Mr. Freedman said differences in how countries tally R&D spending and Canada's heavy reliance on extractive industries makes the country's performance look worse than it really is.

He pointed out that Quebec and Ontario – heart of the manufacturing sector – spend at or above the average among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

And yet frustrated policy makers have spent the past 30 years trying to boost Canada's R&D spending, with disappointing results, according to Mr. Freedman.

"Maybe we are trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist," he said.

Canada's Top 10 R&D spenders:

1) Bombardier Inc.

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2) BlackBerry Limited


3) BCE Inc.


4) IBM Canada Ltd.


5) Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp.


6) Magna International Inc.


7) Atomic Energy of Canada Limited


8) Rogers Communications Inc.


9) Ericsson Canada Inc.


10) Canadian Natural Resources Limited


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About the Author
National Business Correspondent

Barrie McKenna is correspondent and columnist in The Globe and Mail's Ottawa bureau. From 1997 until 2010, he covered Washington from The Globe's bureau in the U.S. capital. During his U.S. posting, he traveled widely, filing stories from more than 30 states. Mr. McKenna has also been a frequent visitor to Japan and South Korea on reporting assignments. More


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