Research and Innovation

Supporting and commercializing life-changing ideas and discoveries.

Cutting-edge research and innovation are core ingredients for a thriving, globally competitive economy and also help produce the breakthroughs that lead to healthier lives and communities. Ontario’s universities play a key role in producing groundbreaking and impactful research and innovation. But doing so requires years of work and commitment that is only possible with stable, long-term investment and support.

  • In today’s rapidly-changing economy, innovation is a crucial element for ensuring the province has competitive businesses and a dynamic society.
  • The impact of research and development conducted by universities is nearly $25 billion annually. This research has a substantial impact on Ontarians, leading to agricultural innovations that help feed us by boosting farmers’ yields, medical discoveries that keep us healthy and strong and new technology that inspires the launch of start-ups and keeps established industries, from mining to finance and manufacturing, innovative and competitive.
  • But fostering innovation requires investing all the way across the discovery-to-innovation process.
  • The recent federal report delivered by Canada’s Fundamental Science Review panel, underlined the crucial role of discovery research in fostering innovation, noting that the “fruits of innovation do not materialize out of thin air… They grow out of the wellspring of knowledge, ideas, and insights that originate largely, albeit not exclusively, from basic research.”
  • The same report highlighted that “independent science and scholarly inquiry have been underfunded for much of the last decade,” and that if Canada is to remain competitive when it comes to research and innovation, “major reinvestments are urgently required.”
  • A 2015 innovation report card from the Conference Board of Canada further noted that while Ontario has a strong base when it comes to research and innovation, the province “might be facing challenges commercializing and reaping the larger benefits of innovation.”
Making an Impact
on Research and Innovation
Fostering innovation in the auto sector
Pierre Pariseau-Legault
Pierre Pariseau-Legault
Algoma University’s Research and Innovation Hub
"Innovation doesn't only happen in your and our R&D departments. Innovation happens everywhere. We can make the transformation only work when we collaborate between the private sector, academia and government."
- Rick Huijbregts, then-VP of Digital Transformation and Innovation at Cisco, at an Ontario Universities' Roundtable on Innovation and The New Economy
What Ontario Universities
Are Doing

The higher education sector is the second largest performer of research and development in Ontario (after businesses), carrying out an estimated $5.2 billion in work, which translated into 34 per cent of the province’s research activities in 2014. This work spans all fields and disciplines and helps produce new thinking and technological breakthroughs that can be felt in factories, government offices, offices and homes across the province. Universities currently accomplish this through:



Research projects that aim to improve lives across all areas of business and society: for example, reducing the harm of oil-and-gas industry flaring; examining new medical uses for wearable technology; and looking at ways of making commercial cross-border traffic between Canada and the U.S. more efficient.

Collaborative work with local businesses, not-for-profits and industries that improves communities across the province, for example, through increasing food access in Northern communities, reducing the rates of bullying, and working with police forces to improve officers’ use-of-force decision-making during confrontations.

How Government Can Help
  • Improve research funding

    Working with the federal government to improve research funding and ensure Canada and Ontario are investing in research across the board, from discovery to innovation.

  • The Ontario Research Fund

    Increasing investments in the Ontario Research Fund and ensuring it supports a wide range of research and innovation.

  • Taking ideas to market

    Supporting the movement of universities’ ideas and inventions into the marketplace by creating a research commercialization fund.

Partnering for a Better Future
Fostering strong research innovation will fuel the new ideas, new inventions, new ways of doing business, and new ways of thinking about social and economic challenges that improve how Ontarians live and work and help keep Ontario on the cutting edge.
Read the Report

In our report, you will find a comprehensive summary of what we heard from Ontarians and how Ontario's universities are working across all sectors to help students thrive, support our communities, and drive a growing, dynamic province.

Stay Informed
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the issues that are having an impact on
Ontarians and the postsecondary sector.

Browse through reports and related materials to find out about Ontario universities' role in everything ranging from university graduate employment to family medicine and community transformation.