Annual Survey of Research and Development in Canadian Industry (RDCI)

Detailed information for 2015





Record number:


This survey collects research and development expenditures and personnel data used to monitor science and technology related activities of businesses and industrial non-profit organizations in Canada.

Data release - December 8, 2017 (actual)


The Research and Development in Canadian Industry (RDCI) survey is a cross economy survey of businesses and industrial non-profit organizations in Canada that 1) perform or fund research and development (R&D) or 2) have previously reported R&D expenditures and have recent payments or receipts for technology. The survey comprises businesses and industrial non-profit organizations in all NAICS industries other than universities (NAICS 61131) and all levels of government (NAICS 91 public administration).

The concepts and definitions employed in the collection and dissemination of research and development (R&D) data are provided in the Frascati Manual 2015: Guidelines for Collecting and Reporting Data on Research and Experimental Development (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2015). According to this definition:
"Research and experimental development (R&D) comprise creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge -including knowledge of humankind, culture and society- and to devise new applications of available knowledge."

The RDCI collects in-house R&D expenditures and personnel, outsourced R&D expenditures and payments and receipts for technology.

In-house R&D expenditures include current costs (comprised of wages and salaries of permanent, temporary and casual employees; services to support R&D; R&D materials; and all other current costs) and capital costs (comprised of software; land; buildings and structures; and equipment, machinery and all other capital costs). In-house R&D expenditures are characterized by their geographic distribution (provinces and territories), sources of funds (originating sector inside or outside Canada), fields of research and development and nature of R&D activity (basic research, applied research and experimental development).

In-house R&D personnel include researchers and research managers; R&D technical, administrative and support staff; and other R&D occupations and these are available by geographic distribution (provinces and territories).
Outsourced R&D expenditures comprise payments made to other organizations to perform R&D and may be directed to other organizations (comprising companies; private non-profit organizations; industrial research institutes or organizations; hospitals; universities; federal government departments or agencies; provincial government departments, ministries and agencies; provincial research organizations or other organizations or individuals) inside or outside Canada.
Technology payments include payments made or received for patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, integrated circuit topography designs, original software, packaged off-the-shelf software, databases with a useful life exceeding one year, other technical assistance, industrial processes and know-how. Technology payments can be made to, or received from affiliated or unaffiliated organizations.

Payments made and received for original software and packaged or off-the shelf software can also be reported as research and development expenditures on software related capital.

Payments made for other intellectual property and technology related service may include outsourced research and development payments.

Payments received for other intellectual property and technology related services may include sources of funds from parent, affiliated, subsidiary, or other companies for R&D expenditures.

Statistical activity

The survey is administered as part of the Integrated Business Statistics Program (IBSP). The IBSP program has been designed to integrate approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The survey instrument conforms to the common look, structure and content for business surveys in this integrated program.

Reference period: The fiscal year for fiscal year end date between April 1, RY and March 31, RY+1


  • Research and development
  • Science and technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the survey of Research and Development in Canadian Industry (RDCI) comprises all companies and industrial non-profit organizations which perform and/or fund research and development (R&D) or have had R&D expenditures in the past and continue to make or receive technology payments within the reference period. The survey is a cross economy survey and includes all NAICS codes except NAICS 61131 (universities) and NAICS 91 (public administration).

Instrument design

The Research and Development in Canadian Industry (RDCI) uses two questionnaires: one for businesses and another for industrial non-profit organizations. These questionnaires were developed to conform to international standards for research and development concepts (OECD, Frascati Manual 2015). Electronic questionnaires (EQ) are the principal mode of collection and these were tested with business respondents in English and French to confirm respondents' understanding of terminology, concepts and definitions as well as their ability to provide the requested data and to navigate the EQ applications. Questionnaire content testing occurred in March 2014 in English in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal and in French in Gatineau and Montreal. This first round of testing concentrated on validating respondents' understanding of concepts, questions, terminology, the appropriateness of response categories and the availability of requested information. The subsequent round of testing in June 2015 occurred in English in Toronto and French in Montreal. This final round of testing confirmed that respondents could navigate through the EQ application with ease while providing the requested information.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The survey has a sample of 8,250 companies. The sample is drawn from an annually updated and revised survey frame that comprises companies known to have performed or funded R&D in the previous two reference periods, companies known or believed to be performing or funding R&D in the current reference period, and companies that made or received payments for technology in the previous two reference periods. The survey frame is compiled using the following data sources: the previous year's survey responses; Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program claims approved by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); R&D expenses (L9282) from the General Index of Financial Information (GIFI); other Statistics Canada surveys including the Business Activity Expenditures and Output Survey, Capital and Repair Expenditures Survey and Federal Science Expenditures and Personnel; annual reports; and media sources.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2016-09-15 to 2017-01-30

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

These survey data are combined with administrative data for the smallest units in the frame.

Data are collected annually using an e-mail invitation to open, complete and submit an electronic questionnaire. For those companies which are unable or do not wish to use electronic collection, a paper questionnaire was mailed with directions to complete and return within 21 days.

Sampled units are prioritized for collection follow-up and editing. There are three categories of priorities that are determined based upon individual units' R&D activities, their industrial grouping and geographical location of R&D activities. The first category, priority 1 units are re-contacted for non-response and all attempts are made to elicit a response since their contributions to the survey estimates are significant. For priority 2 units, re-contact is based on their ranking with the highest ranked units being contacted first. The units included in this category are substitutable for one another. Priority 2 units which could not be contacted for follow-up are skipped and the next highest scored unit or units in the same group will be followed-up. The replacement unit(s) must represent the same contribution to the collection target coverage as the skipped unit. Full edits are applied to all priority 1 and 2 units required to attain the target coverage level for collection. The remaining respondents and non-respondents (some priority 2 and all priority 3 units) are subject to minimal collection follow-up and edits.

Administrative data

Industrial R&D data comprises two sources: the RDCI questionnaire and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program (also referred to as Schedule 32 and T661). While the general concepts underlying R&D for the SR&ED tax incentive program and the RDCI are similar, they are not identical. Also, the operational reporting requirements for these two sources of industrial R&D information differ.

Differences between the SR&ED tax incentive program and industrial R&D questionnaires comprise the following:

1. Qualifying R&D expenditures

Items included in the RDCI survey and excluded from by the SR&ED tax incentive program are:

• Capital expenditures for R&D. Capital expenditures for R&D are an important element of total in-house R&D expenditures for R&D performed in Canada.
• Lease costs for R&D machinery and equipment
• R&D outsourced outside of Canada
• R&D expenditures in the social sciences and humanities

2. Legal requirements

All businesses selected in the RDCI sample are legally required to complete the questionnaire and to include all expenditures that meet the definition for R&D.
Businesses in Canada that perform R&D or purchase out-sourced R&D are not legally required to submit an SR&ED tax credit application. This means that some firms do not claim any R&D expenditures, some claim some of their R&D expenditures and some claim all of their R&D expenditures.

3. Review and audit

The RDCI relies on businesses to do their best to answer the questions. Respondents are provided with additional help and directions in the collection tools. Respondents can indicate any assumptions they made during the process of completing the questionnaire in the comments section of the questionnaires. In contrast, the CRA requires that submitted SR&ED tax incentive program applications meet their qualification criteria. Furthermore, the CRA reviews or audits SR&ED tax incentive applications.

4. Timing of data availability for a given reference year

Statistics Canada obtains from CRA data for approved SR&ED tax incentive program claims. All businesses have six (6) months after the end of their fiscal periods to file their tax returns and SR&ED tax claimants have another 12 months after this to file their SR&ED applications. The CRA then reviews the applications prior to approving the SR&ED claims. Therefore, the approved SR&ED claims received by Statistics Canada can be more than two years old. The RDCI enables Statistics Canada to obtain timely information about current R&D expenditures and future intentions.

Energy Research and Development Expenditures

Starting reference year 2014, the Energy Research and Development by Area of Technology (4205) survey is being collected within the Research and Development in Canadian Industry (4201) survey's questionnaires. These surveys have historically been collected simultaneously. The integrated questionnaires are intended to facilitate response and improve data quality. Only respondents with R&D activities in the energy-related areas of technologies complete the questions on in-house energy-related R&D expenditures by sources of funds within Canada and outsourced R&D payments made within and outside Canada.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.


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