DRR 2018-19 Supplementary Corporate Information

Raison d'être

As the largest federal performer of research and technology development in Canada, the NRC advances scientific knowledge, supports business innovation and provides technological solutions to pressing public policy challenges. Working with industry, government and academia, NRC's scientific experts and industrial technology advisors support a broad range of science and innovation activities, including helping technology-based small and medium-sized enterprises to scale-up, access global value chains and become internationally competitive. By balancing the advancement of emerging science and technology required for tomorrow's economy with innovation support that Canadian companies need to grow and succeed, the NRC translates scientific excellence into innovations that improve the quality of life for Canadians and people around the world. By combining its strong national foundation and regionally-based network of specialized scientific infrastructure with deep international partnerships, the NRC has become an enabling platform for connecting diverse expertise across Canada's innovation system, focusing these efforts on the most valuable goals for the country.

Figure 1: NRC IRAP and research facilities

NRC IRAP and Research facilities
Long description of the NRC IRAP and research facilities

Research facilities are located in Edmonton, Penticton, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Boucherville, London, Mississippi Mills, Montréal (2 sites), Ottawa (three sites), Saguenay, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Halifax, Ketch Harbour, Moncton, and St. John's.

IRAP offices are located in British Columbia: Vancouver, Prince George, Kelowna, Nelson, Chilliwak, Burnaby, Surrey, Victoria, Nanaimo; West: Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Grande Prairie (AB); Ontario: Markham, Waterloo, Ottawa, Toronto, Picton, Thunder Bay, Kanata, Kingston, Windsor, London, St. Catharines, Barrie, Sudbury, Hamilton, St. Thomas, Oshawa, Guelph, Bracebridge, Oakville, North Bay, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, Whitby, Kitchener, Cambridge; Québec: Montréal, Laval, Boucherville, Québec, Sherbrooke, Drummondville, Granby, Rouyn-Noranda, Lévis, Gatineau, St-Georges, Wendake, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Sainte-Foy, Longueuil, Trois-Rivières, St-Hyacinthe, Rimouski, Bromont, Shawinigan; East: Corner Brook, St-John's, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Halifax, Edmundston, Gander, Dieppe, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Sydney (NS), Saint John (NB), Bathhurst (NB).

Mandate and role

Under the National Research Council Act, the NRC is responsible for:

  • Undertaking, assisting or promoting scientific and industrial research in fields of importance to Canada;
  • Providing vital scientific and technological services to the research and industrial communities;
  • Investigating standards and methods of measurement;
  • Working on the standardization and certification of scientific and technical apparatus, instruments and materials used or usable by Canadian industry;
  • Operating and administering any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada;
  • Establishing, operating and maintaining a national science library; and
  • Publishing and selling or otherwise distributing such scientific and technical information as the Council deems necessary.

For more general information about the NRC, see the "Supplementary information" section of this report.

For more information on the NRC's organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Ministers' mandate letters.

Operating context: conditions affecting our work

Through Budget 2018, the federal government announced an additional $258 million in ongoing annual funding for the NRC and envisaged the organization as the centre of research excellence and collaboration in Canada. This boost in financial support includes investments of $108 million per year in the NRC's research and development capacity and $150 million per year in IRAP.

This unprecedented investment helped to solidify the organization's new vision of a reimagined NRC, which contributes to "a better Canada and world through excellence in research and innovation", and strengthens its support to the Government's Innovation and Skills Plan.

In 2018-19, the NRC's President was also confirmed for a new 5-year term, providing continuity in leadership as the NRC evolves to meet the needs of our current operating environment while also looking to the future of science and innovation. Over the next 5 years, the NRC President will lead the organization in implementing its Science and Innovation Strategic Plan to address the challenges and defining issues facing Canada's future, such as climate change, disruptive technologies, changing demographics, and increasing global business competition.

Key risk factors: things that are affecting our ability to achieve our plans and results

As noted in the Operating Context, Canada and the world are being challenged by an evolving risk environment driven by disruptive changes in the economic, technological and environmental domains. These challenges are compounded by their intertwined nature and represent medium to long term trends with potentially significant strategic impact.

Within this context, some key risk drivers for the NRC include:

  • Shifts in the global economic center of gravity: As emerging economies mature, the demand for Canada's products will be subject to volatility. In order to increase the resilience of Canada's innovation system, the NRC is leveraging funding provided through Budget 2018 to scale up its successful IRAP program and launch initiatives in strategic areas such as high-throughput and secure networks, disruptive technology solutions for cell and gene therapy, materials for clean fuels and artificial intelligence for design. Innovations in these and other areas will be key enablers of Canada's ability to compete in the global economy.
  • Emergence of disruptive technologies: Disruptive technologies such as big data; artificial intelligence and analytics; cybersecurity; internet of things; synthetic biology; and quantum computing create both threats and opportunities for Canada. The NRC is deepening its expertise in these strategic technologies while also fostering national and international collaborations.
  • Climate change and environmental disruptors: The World Economic Forum cites extreme weather events and the failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in its top five 2019 risks in terms of both likelihood and impact to the economyFootnote1. The NRC is committed to strengthening research efforts to assist Canadians in reducing carbon emissions and preparing mitigations against the negative impacts of climate change.
  • Availability of scientific and technical talent: The competition for highly skilled research and development talent is omnipresent. To ensure the NRC can recruit and retain existing talent to meet present and future needs, the organization has developed a five-year Strategic Human Resources Plan that focuses on talent development, transition and attraction; increased focus on students; and employee diversity and wellness.
Risks Mitigation strategy and effectiveness Link to the NRC's Core Responsibility Link to mandate letter commitments or any government-wide or departmental priorities

Human resources - Talent
Insufficient capabilities & expertise to respond to scale and scope of Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan
Likelihood: Unlikely (2)
Consequence: Moderate (3)
Assessment: Medium

  • Enhanced number of student and post-doctoral placements. The NRC's student recruitment initiative surpassed targets with the creation of 393 student opportunities and is on track to meet or surpass this level in 2019-20. A total of 12 new post-doctoral fellows (PDFs) were recruited during the reporting period with plans to further augment the number of PDFs in 2019-20.
  • Concurrent with the NRC's Five-Year Science and Innovation Strategic Plan, the NRC Strategic Human Resources Plan has been developed and will be launched in 2019-20. The Strategic Human Resources Plan includes a variety of initiatives to attract, develop, retain and align top talent such as a Leadership Development Framework, an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, an NRC Wellness Strategy and a STEM Continuum Framework - to increase outreach and nurture the training ground of STEM leaders from high school through to early career STEM leaders.

Science and Innovation

  • Enabling Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan
  • Science and Research Excellence
  • Managing Resources Effectively

Lack of timely renewal of aging research infrastructure to deliver science and technology and collaborate
Likelihood: Possible (3)
Consequence: Moderate (3)
Assessment: Medium

  • To ensure NRC facilities meet program requirements, the NRC launched a review of its facilities. As part of this, an inventory of NRC facilities was developed and two pilot reviews were completed.
  • To support the collaborative use of NRC facilities, the NRC has undertaken efforts to establish 10 Collaboration Centres with universities across Canada and has engaged in the Federal Science and Technology Infrastructure Initiative (now named Laboratories Canada Initiative) to realign and renew its facilities.

Science and Innovation

  • Enabling Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan
  • Science and Research Excellence
  • Managing Resources Effectively

Information technology
Inability to deliver leading-edge research as a result of aging scientific and unreliable IT infrastructure
Likelihood: Possible (3)
Consequence: Severe (5)
Assessment: High

  • While IT security is an ever changing environmental risk, the NRC's efforts to maintain and enhance the security of its IT assets are maturing.
  • To support its workforce, the NRC upgraded existing high performance computing capabilities, secured legacy infrastructure, stabilized email services, implemented mobile tools and invested in new capabilities.

Science and Innovation

  • Enabling Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan
  • Science and Research Excellence
  • Managing Resources Effectively