Canada's National Research Council was established during a period characterized by two world wars and a booming wheat exporting economy – until it bottomed out during the Depression. Canada's heavy military role during the wars transformed its society and its place in the world. Early research at NRC is focused on military and agricultural security as well as developing Canada's natural resources.
The post-war baby boom and government social and economic policies gave rise to unprecedented prosperity in Canada. NRC returned to civilian research and focused on construction, manufacturing and health technologies that improved the livelihood of all, including returning veterans.
As living standards improved, the first baby‐boomers came of age forming a massive youth movement that challenged the status quo. Canada raised a new flag and the country shined in the world spotlight with Expo '67. NRC contributed to fundamental science and astronomy, helped to grow universities, and created several offshoot entities such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd. It also created innovations for arts and entertainment, renewable energy and crime‐fighting.
As the earlier economic boom unraveled with two recessionary periods, free trade with the US, globalism and the explosion of computer technology helped define Canada. NRC strengthened its ties to industry by creating sector‐based institutes around aerospace, ICT, biotechnology, nanotechnology, marine infrastructure, industrial and chemical processes, ground transportation, and more. NRC's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) became increasingly important in supporting Canada's small and medium‐sized enterprises.
Today, Canada faces exponential competition stemming from intense globalization and the economic rise of multiple emerging markets. Climate change, sustainable development in the North, a shrinking manufacturing sector and an aging population are some of Canada's latest challenges. Once again, NRC has adapted by transforming itself into an engine for industrial innovation to help address critical issues facing Canadians. With NRC's help, Canadian businesses will develop game changing technologies to solve these challenges well into the future.