Everything you wanted to know about GERD, BERD, GovERD and HERD

The UK department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) released its annual science, engineering and technology statistics, including a good deal of data on how much the G7 countries spend on research and development (R&D). Canada is fifth out of seven in the most important overall indicator, the gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD), which consists of the sum of all annual investments on R&D in business, university, government and not-for-profit sectors.  But the picture becomes clearer when the numbers are broken down into the various contributing sectors to R&D. And one of them is surely a shocker.

The first table describes the evolution of the GERD from 1986 till 2009. The UK record is so lousy that it allows Canada to brag about moving from sixth to fifth place, even though  our numbers had also declined since 2004.

The next three tables break the GERD numbers down into the various contributing sectors to R&D, starting with the business enterprise expenditure on R&D (BERD), which confirms what everyone knows about Canada’s sorry state in this domain.

Note how business spending on R&D has declined relative to GDP in the last five years. And it doesn’t look like the government had stepped up to fill the hole left by business, since Canada comes again fifth among G7 nations in terms of government expenditure on R&D (GvERD).

These numbers cannot include the $3.5-billion SRED program, which does not qualify as direct government funding, since the latter is only a tax incentive program.  On the other hand, it includes the NRC and the myriad of programs described here and recently reviewed by the Jenkins panel, minus those programs that go through the Tri-Council. These are accounted for in the following table for Higher-education expenditure on R&D (HERD):

Here the numbers for Canada are astonishing. Besides the federal funding though the Tri-Council and CFI, the numbers seem to include all provincial and federal funding for post-secondary education (with faculty salaries and all). I am told that these figures are not well accepted by the AUCC and university administrations. One also wonders, whether the $2-billion of the Knowledge Infrastructure Program is what accounts for the sharp increase in the post-recession period. This is also questionable accounting.

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4 Responses to Everything you wanted to know about GERD, BERD, GovERD and HERD

  1. Phil Bakes says:

    It is sad and depressing to look at Canada’s commitment to research and development. How on earth do the ignoramuses on Parliament Hill (read: Conservatives) expect the country to grow? Of course, this ignores completely our responsibility (well, in my opinion) to push back the boundaries of knowledge. I’m still mulling over the fact that less than 10% of post-docs are getting NSERC grants. After they dedicate so many years to intensive education, how can we abandon our best and brightest? What kind of utter wastage is this? OK, I know these are just rhetorical questions, but as one ordinary Canadian, I want to register my profound dissatisfaction with the direction our country is taking.

  2. William says:

    Professor Ghoussoub,We’re definitely not intentionally ignoring the issues relevant to trainees they are the focus of this blog. Incidentally, we’d actually posted on the recent NSERC results last month: However, we really didn’t get into the nitty gritty as you’ve done in your entry and I agree that these numbers may well be the result of the Banting et al. programs this is one issue that the CAPS group is trying to get it’s head around and something that is clearly impacting the careers and lives of young scientists.I’m sure the issues will resurface and hopefully there was enough noise over this year’s results to make some changes in next year’s decisions on resource allocation. Thanks for the comment! Dave

  3. Ari says:

    It is sad and depressing to look at Canada’s commitment to research and development. How on earth do the ignoramuses on Parliament Hill (read: Conservatives) expect the country to grow? Of course, this ignores completely our responsibility (well, in my opinion) to push back the boundaries of knowledge. I’m still mulling over the fact that less than 10% of post-docs are getting NSERC grants. After they dedicate so many years to intensive education, how can we abandon our best and brightest? What kind of utter wastage is this? OK, I know these are just rhetorical questions, but as one ordinary Canadian, I want to register my profound dissatisfaction with the direction our country is taking.

  4. Thad says:

    Sorry to comment in an old post, but the new budget uses HERD stats to place Canada ahead of the G7 in R&D. (See Chart 3.4.1 at http://www.budget.gc.ca/2013/doc/plan/chap3-4-eng.html )

    I wanted to see how this was possible, and Google took me here, where you indicate that this includes ‘provincial and federal funding for post-secondary education (with faculty salaries and all). ‘ This seems to be partly true.

    StatsCan does try to include a large percentage of academic salaries and university operating costs (including more salary as indirect cost) to the HERD data.
    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/88-001-x/2010005/technote-notetech1-eng.htm

    I think the UK does as well, where for HERD data from from the Higher Education Funding Councils, I can’t yet find how the HEFCs count their research numbers.
    But, ‘It is important to note that R&D funding provided to the higher education sector from government departments, research councils and HEFCs are collected as part of the GovERD survey.’ So it seems the UK does not count sponsored research in the HERD data, where Canada does?
    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit1/gross-domestic-expenditure-on-research-and-development/2011/stb-gerd-2011.html#tab-background-notes

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