National Research Council Canada 2021–22 Departmental Plan

Table of contents

From the Minister

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Mandate Letter

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) are working to position Canada as an innovation leader on the global stage by fostering a diverse, growing, competitive and sustainable economy that benefits all Canadians.

While our government’s priority continues to be fighting COVID-19 and protecting Canadians’ health and safety, we are committed to fostering conditions for investment, enhancing Canadian innovation, and driving growth in key sectors. Together, we will strengthen the Canadian economy and restore consumer confidence through strategic actions, including investing in training for workers, and supporting Canadian businesses as they adapt and grow in a knowledge-based economy.

As Canada’s largest federal performer of research and technology development, the NRC plays a leadership role within the Canadian science, technology, and innovation ecosystem by advancing scientific excellence, supporting industry and business innovation, and collaborating with government, academia and international partners. By leveraging its expertise, capacity and connections, the NRC will continue to support our pandemic response and economic recovery agenda in the coming year,  while strengthening our clean industrial advantage, securing our digital future, as well as the overall health of Canadians for years to come.

Finally, in tackling some of today’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change, we will continue to invest in science and research. We will also ensure that federal research is fully available to the public; that researchers can freely share their work; and that evidence-based approaches are utilized when making decisions.

Together with Canadians of all backgrounds, regions and generations, we are building a strong culture of innovation to position Canada as a leader in the global economy. For more information, it is our pleasure to present the 2021–22 Departmental Plan for the NRC.


From the President

For more than 100 years, the National Research Council (NRC) has supported Canada in times of need. The NRC’s early research focused on building the foundations of an ambitious nation in the years following the First World War and through the challenges of the Great Depression. This positioned the NRC to deliver science and technology support during the Second World War and contribute to the 20th century’s sustained period of nation building. Now, the NRC has been called upon once again to support the most pressing challenges of Canada in the 21st century.

The world as we knew it changed dramatically in 2020–21, with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Canada and the rest of the world with force. For 2021–22, the NRC will continue to play an active role in the Government of Canada’s pandemic response and support Canada’s economic recovery.

At the same time, the effects and impacts of climate change are increasingly pressing. Canada must transition to a more sustainable economy to reverse the strains that modern life has placed on the planet. The NRC’s Strategic Plan outlines how the organization will support this shift with research on clean energy, the environment, natural resources, digitization, buildings and infrastructure, and food and transportation.

In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to support the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in driving mission-oriented research and innovation to address the most pressing challenges facing our country. The NRC will also support the Minister in delivering his mandate by continuing to transform science into the technological capabilities needed to build out the industries of tomorrow, and grow innovative Canadian firms to global scale.

The NRC takes great pride in its continued ability to deliver on the challenges and opportunities of importance to Canada, working in collaboration with other government departments, research institutions and industry. In 2021–22, the NRC will leverage its expertise and capabilities to support its clients, collaborators, and Canadian businesses so they can continue to provide essential services, contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and ensure our country will prosper coming out of this global crisis.

As NRC President, I look forward to leading the organization to advance its priorities and contribute to a better Canada for all Canadians, through excellence in research and innovation.

Mitch Davies
National Research Council Canada
Mandate letter for NRC President

Plans at a glance

The NRC plays a pivotal role in the Canadian science and innovation ecosystem by advancing knowledge, applying leading-edge technologies, partnering with Canadian industry, and working with other innovators to find creative, relevant and sustainable solutions to Canada's current and future economic, social and environmental challenges. The organization is uniquely placed to advance strategic research and development (R&D) to address critical issues for Canadians, enabling the NRC to focus on solutions for key priorities in 2021–22, including health innovation, climate mitigation, and supporting Canada’s economy.

In 2021–22, the NRC will begin year three of executing its five-year Strategic Plan, which aims to strengthen its impact in the innovation ecosystem and maximize research excellence over the long-term through a set of strategic goals and outcomes. These goals will continue to be achieved through mission-oriented initiatives led by NRC research centres, paired with the innovation support provided by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). The research centres and NRC IRAP will be supported by corporate enabling strategies and a vision that sets ambitious, yet attainable, goals for the future.

Scientific and technological knowledge advances

Working at the forefront of R&D by harnessing its scientific and technological expertise, the NRC is well placed to advance knowledge and technologies leading to innovative solutions to everyday challenges. In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to collaborate with leading researchers and innovators from government, academia and industry on transformative science and research projects through its Collaboration Centres and the NRC Ideation Fund.

Climate change remains a top priority for the NRC and, in 2021–22, research into low and zero-carbon fuels, and renewable energy solutions will help Canada respond to the challenge. With the pandemic accelerating the shift to a digital society and economy, the need for advances in digital technology is greater than ever before. As a result, the NRC will continue to expand its capabilities in next generation digital technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum applications.

Innovative businesses grow

Last year, the NRC was called upon to provide advanced support to Canadian businesses heavily impacted by the pandemic. In 2021–22, NRC IRAP will continue to make its specialized services, advice and funding more accessible to accelerate the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), helping them build innovative capabilities and bring ideas to market. The NRC will continue to support the health industry by advancing new therapeutics, vaccines and other pandemic related products to address national needs in response to the pandemic, and strengthen collaborations with other government departments (OGDs) to help businesses develop and commercialize new technologies. The NRC will also enhance its relations with global partners by implementing new strategies and techniques to reinforce its international presence.

Evidence-based solutions inform decisions in Government priority areas

The NRC will join its resources with OGDs, academia and industry partners to strive for shared goals in government priority areas. The NRC will continue to support and implement solution-oriented initiatives aimed at addressing national and global challenges and positioning Canada for the economy of tomorrow. Specifically, the NRC will continue to advance its four mission-oriented Challenge Programs established in 2018–19 and its newly launched Pandemic Response Challenge Program. The NRC will also contribute to policy initiatives by continuing to support the Innovation Superclusters Initiative, providing leadership for R&D pillars in Cluster Support programs; and support the federal COVID-19 pandemic response by addressing challenges and accelerating solutions to allow the country to succeed amidst this global crisis.

Managing talent and resources effectively

In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to implement the strategies and initiatives of its five-year Strategic HR Plan – a companion document to the NRC’s Strategic Plan – which supports the NRC with the workforce needed to achieve its strategic goals. Targeted initiatives directed at the organization's ability to attract, develop and retain a diverse, talented, healthy and engaged workforce will be paired with new measures to support NRC employees through the challenges and transitions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To advance research excellence, the NRC will continue its Dialogue Finitiative, a series of strategic projects that tackle the improvement and simplification of internal processes with the aim of making it easier to do business within the NRC. Through Finitiative, the NRC will simplify processes and foster a culture of continuous improvement in the delivery of its internal services.

For more information on the National Research Council’s plans, priorities and planned results, see the “Core responsibilities: planned results and resources, and key risks” section of this report.

Core Responsibility: planned results and resources, and key risks

This section contains detailed information on the department’s planned results and resources for each of its core responsibilities. It also contains information on key risks related to achieving those results.

Science and Innovation


Grow and enhance the prosperity of Canada through: undertaking, assisting and promoting innovation-driven research and development (R&D); advancing fundamental science and Canada's global research excellence; providing government, business and research communities with access to scientific and technological infrastructure, services and information; and supporting Canada's skilled workforce and capabilities in science and innovation.

The NRC has three departmental results for tracking and reporting against its core responsibility:

  1. Scientific and technological knowledge advances;
  2. Innovative businesses grow; and
  3. Evidence-based solutions inform decisions in Government priority areas.

Planning highlights

Departmental Result 1: Scientific and technological knowledge advances

The NRC advances scientific and technological knowledge through its dedicated research teams working at the forefront of their disciplines, and through the operation of state-of-the-art facilities. The NRC works with leading-edge collaborators in government, academia and industry to produce publications, patent innovative ideas, and commercialize novel technologies for the benefit of Canada and Canadians.

Turning innovative ideas into real products and solutions

Supporting the transition to a more sustainable economy continues to be a top priority for the NRC and, in 2021–22, research will continue in renewable and clean energy, and low carbon solutions to reduce Canada’s environmental footprint and advance the country’s commitments to reducing GHG emissions.

  • Working with SMEs, the NRC will develop technologies to support Canadian supply chains for the production, storage and utilization of low and zero-carbon fuels. The NRC will also continue to identify optimal technology selection and future development pathways for energy processes by using life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis.
  • The NRC will continue to develop solutions for the mining sector, including systems that improve productivity and safety, as well as digital innovation and analytics. Under its Environmental Advances in Mining Program, the NRC will develop clean solutions that reduce the environmental impact of mining in Canada and increase its competitiveness.
  • The NRC will continue to work with industry partners to develop marine renewable energy technologies for Canada’s harsh environments and Northern communities, as well as technologies to reduce ship emissions and mitigate the effects of ship underwater radiated noise.

Leveraging leading-edge technology, the NRC is able to develop innovative solutions for the transportation sector. In 2021–22, researchers will continue to make advancements in air, marine, and land transportation.

  • To support Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic response, the NRC will validate and demonstrate innovative travel-related technologies designed to maintain the health and safety of passengers.
  • The NRC will foster the growth of the air mobility ecosystem in Canada through support to the Canadian Advanced Aerial Mobility consortium and will develop, integrate and demonstrate technologies that will enable future sustainable air transportation.
  • The NRC will continue to develop novel and state-of-the-art methodologies to predict ice conditions and harsh environments in Canadian waters. The NRC will also develop technologies to enable marine autonomous surface ships in Canada’s unique harsh environment by developing and testing novel sensors, control systems and autopilots.
  • The NRC will advance green transportation, such as vehicle electrification, in support of Canada’s development of the transportation systems of the future. The NRC’s work on vehicle electrification is considered to be timely and aligned with the directions of the automotive sector, as well as government priorities related to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, per the 2020–21 Evaluation of the NRC’s Automotive and Surface Transportation Program.

Each year, greater emphasis is placed on the need for disruptive technology solutions and advanced manufacturing innovations. 2021–22 will be an important year for the NRC to expand capabilities in areas such as 3D imaging and printing, on-chip technologies, optical devices and nanotechnology solutions.

  • Building on its 3D imaging capabilities, the NRC will look at developing next generation light-based 3D printing technology capable of forming objects in a single stage instead of layer by layer.
  • The NRC will develop novel materials for adaptive and intelligent multi-functional objects (smart objects) for a variety of applications, including intrinsic sensing capability, using new equipment in advanced manufacturing, such as 2D and 3D printing techniques.
  • The NRC will establish capabilities for the study of metamaterials and metasurfaces for the design of unusual material properties not found in current crystalline materials, which can be leveraged to develop new types of optical devices and sensors.
  • Together with the University of Alberta, the NRC will launch a new round of Nanotechnology Initiative projects in nano-biomedicine, nano-enabled sensors, and microscopy and atom-scale technologies.
  • The NRC will continue to foster collaborative partnerships with the goal of testing methods to measure optical power from photon sources. Once achieved, it will be the first demonstration of an optical power measurement on a chip at a very low power level, which could lead to methods for integrating on-chip or in-situ calibration of photon sources for future telecom applications.

Ensuring Canada’s success in a global digital economy

COVID-19 is accelerating the digitalization of society and the economy, and underscoring the importance of remaining at the forefront of the digital revolution. In 2021–22, the NRC will support this shift by advancing research in digital technologies and leveraging its growing expertise in AI and quantum technologies.

  • To prepare researchers for the next generation of digital technologies, the NRC has launched a three-year quantum application roadmap to build capacity in quantum algorithms across the Government of Canada, identify quantum use cases and platforms, and build prototype quantum software solutions.
  • The NRC will develop next-generation machine learning tools capable of graph optimization to address hard challenges like molecular properties prediction for drug design and automated question answering by AI agents.
  • The NRC’s AI Accelerator and Data Analytics Centre play an important role in the adoption of digital technologies both within the NRC and more broadly across government. These applied services help clients navigate AI hype by working with client data and helping to digitize key segments of the production chain.
  • Guided by the Ethics by Design principle, the NRC will support safety and inclusion in online communications by applying natural language processing research to detect abusive content including hate speech, toxicity, and cyberbullying.
  • The NRC will use an empowerment-oriented approach to assist Indigenous communities to preserve and extend the use of their languages through the use of technologies for verb conjugation, automatic speech recognition, and text-to-speech synthesis.
  • Through the development of single-electron transistors and technologies for atom-scale electronics and quantum systems, the NRC will help grow Canada’s leadership in quantum technology by enabling the design and manufacture of quantum devices with ultra-high sensitivity and/or ultra-low power consumption, with initial applications on temperature sensing.

Deepening our understanding of the world around us

NRC research contributes to important discoveries in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to help uncover the mysteries of the universe by:

  • Deploying three prototype dishes for the Canadian Hydrogen Observatory and Radio-transient Detector (CHORD) proposed by the Canadian astronomy community. Building on the award-winning work of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) – a partnership between the NRC and Canadian universities, CHORD could help Canadian astronomers understand fast radio bursts, the distribution of matter in the universe and undertake cutting-edge measurements of fundamental physics.
  • Co-delivering with industry partner, Nanowave Technologies, 44 state-of-the art, cryogenic low-noise amplifiers designed and prototyped at the NRC to maximize signal quality for next-generation radio telescopes, such as the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), to EMSS Antennas Pty Ltd. in South Africa for integration into sensitive radio receivers for their radio astronomy observatory.  
  • Partnering with the University of Calgary to upgrade the Synthesis Telescope facility at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory with leading-edge equipment, including a digital correlator designed by the NRC for next-generation radio telescopes such as the SKA. Equipment prototypes are planned for completion by the end of 2021–22.

Strengthening national partnerships and investing in transformative research

The NRC’s relationships with academia, government and industry are important collaborative platforms for the organization, as demonstrated by the 2019–20 Evaluation of the NRC’s Medical Devices Program. In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to work with leading-edge partners and collaborators to explore new ideas and enhance capabilities by:

  • Continuing to partner with academic institutions on Collaboration Centres that bring together resources and expertise to advance knowledge in key research areas. Leveraging funding to support the pursuit of research excellence, Collaboration Centres established over the last two years demonstrate the impact of large-scale science and engineering. Close collaboration between the NRC and partnering universities also provides support for talent through the supervision of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
  • Supporting collaborative research with $3M in grant funding for Ideation Fund projects with universities and SMEs to encourage, test, and validate transformative research ideas. The second round of the Ideation Fund - Small Teams Initiative resulted in the final selection of three projects: Quantum Photonic Integrated Circuit for Quantum Interconnects; Resilience and Adaptation to Climatic Wildfires; and, Enabling new Frontiers in Exoplanet Imaging with the Gemini Imager.
Departmental Result 2: Innovative businesses grow

To support business innovation, the NRC harnesses the collective experience, expertise and advanced technical skills of its scientists, engineers and technicians to explore new ideas and de-risk innovation. The NRC accelerates the growth of SMEs by providing them with a comprehensive suite of innovation services, advice and funding which allow them to scale up and compete in their industries.

Creating Canadian wealth through innovation

The NRC has established itself as a partner for Canadian SMEs and a driver of economic growth, jobs, and opportunities in Canada. In 2021–22, NRC IRAP will help SMEs reach their potential and grow to scale through continued advisory and financial support to the following strategies and initiatives:

  • The NRC will continue to support Employment and Social Development Canada's Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, through the placement of graduates within SMEs. NRC IRAP will seek to ensure that young professionals face fewer barriers in joining the workforce and that recent Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates have access to quality employment in their field of study.
  • NRC IRAP will focus on the growth of high potential, high growth Canadian SMEs by providing specialized advisory services to new and existing clients and facilitating increased collaboration with OGDs by referring these SMEs to government programs and supporting assessments for OGD partners. NRC IRAP will continue to leverage the $150M in additional, ongoing funding and continue to improve the pilot framework for the delivery of Large Value Contributions.

To support high potential, innovative Canadian firms in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the NRC will focus on targeted strategic account management, enhanced efforts to increase awareness of NRC intellectual property (IP) assets, and licensing of NRC IP to high potential, innovative firms for commercialization. Dedicated business development staff and tools will help facilitate access to NRC services and assets, thus improving responsiveness to innovative partners.

Supporting SME emergence into domestic and global markets

New frontiers in business are delivering more efficient homes, workplaces and transportation networks that improve Canadians’ quality of life. With its innovative research and scientific knowledge, and specialized facilities, the NRC will continue to support Canadian industry clients and collaborators, both large and small, in bringing emerging technologies to market.

  • The NRC fully integrates knowledge and technology transfer into its programs and projects so that market adoption is top of mind when providing services and support to clients. For example, the High-Performance Buildings Program offers services to Canadian firms to accelerate market acceptance of innovative residential and commercial technologies that optimize energy efficiency and integrate renewable energy.
  • The NRC will continue to support industry clients such as Bombardier Aerospace and Bell with tailored programs aimed at technology development and market readiness.

By collaborating with OGDs and industry, the NRC helps SMEs to build innovative capabilities, scale up, and take their ideas to market. In 2021–22, the NRC will leverage its specialized advice, services and infrastructure to support the growth of high-potential Canadian businesses.

  • The NRC will continue to work with Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) and partner organizations to sponsor and fund Canadian SMEs solving COVID-19-related challenges. NRC IRAP received $17M in 2020–21 and another $13M in incremental federal funding for 2021–22 to support Canadian SMEs with pre-commercial R&D to address COVID-19-related needs.Footnote 1 Plans for the ISC Testing Stream include two to three calls for proposals, with 2,500-3,000 OGD assessments estimated for completion in 2021–22.
  • The NRC will continue co-delivery of the CanExport Program with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and offer a streamlined, end-to-end funding application process to SMEs, with referrals by Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs). CanExport expects an increase in funding applications and aims to support an estimated 1,200 SMEs in accessing international markets.
  • Building on world-competitive strengths in academic research and prototyping at the NRC, and systems integration through other players of the Canadian photonics ecosystem, the NRC will lead a Photonics Ecosystem Initiative aimed at expanding services to allow the Canadian photonics industry to develop full solutions and take their innovations from concept to market.

Fostering international co-innovation opportunities

Leveraging NRC IRAP’s internationally recognized model of combining advisory services and financial assistance to Canadian firms, the NRC will support Canadian SME expansion in global markets through a number of international initiatives in 2021–22.

  • The NRC’s established on-the-ground presence in Germany and Japan will be leveraged to further build international relations and establish innovation ecosystem linkages for collaboration with global leaders in science, technology and innovation. This presence will help advance NRC R&D initiatives and Challenge Programs that tackle prevalent issues in Canada and around the world.
  • The NRC will continue to deliver the Canadian International Innovation Program in partnership with GAC and the Trade Commissioner Service to support SME expansion into global markets including India, Brazil and South Korea.
  • Through EUREKA, NRC IRAP will support international co-innovation opportunities for Canadian SMEs using advisory and funding support to engage with the best partners. The Global Value Chain pilot program will continue to enable SME partnerships with large multinationals and facilitate global market access.
  • Focusing on the development of support tools and resources for research centres to increase efficiency and effectiveness of international collaboration, the NRC will test new collaboration models to bring together partners from academia, industry and government, and seek to incorporate EDI best practices.
  • NRC IRAP recognizes that greater diversity in international co-innovation collaborations will lead to improved global competitiveness for all partners, and it will work with international partners to benchmark innovation programming, share information and learn from best practices in implementing diversity and inclusion policies.
Departmental Result 3: Evidence-based solutions inform decisions in Government priority areas

The NRC supplies Canada with insights into emerging technologies and advice to government and industry on their disruptive potential. Working with other government departments (OGDs) and agencies, the NRC provides scientific knowledge and technological insights that contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation, stewardship, national security and defence. By integrating different fields quickly, the NRC is able to address major issues of concern to society.

Leveraging collaborative partnerships to achieve a common goal

The NRC develops and supports targeted research and collaboration initiatives designed to advance knowledge and support business innovation in government priority areas.Specifically, the NRC Challenge Programs and the Innovation Superclusters Initiative, bring together the unique strengths of innovators from OGDs, academia and industry to foster transformative discoveries and technological breakthroughs that benefit Canadians.

In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to advance its four mission-oriented Challenge Programs established in 2018–19 and a fifth Challenge Program launched in 2019–20 in support of the Government of Canada’s pandemic response:

Challenge Program 2021–22 Planning Highlights
Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy Design disruptive technology platforms that support the development and delivery of safe, affordable and accessible biologic therapies for treating chronic diseases and rare genetic disorders.
Materials for Clean Fuels Develop and deploy clean energy technologies, including next-generation materials for zero-carbon fuel production.
High-Throughput and Secure Networks Reduce the digital gap experienced by rural and remote communities, notably Northern, and mobilize the Canadian telecommunications and satellite industries.
Artificial Intelligence for Design Challenge program Accelerate the pace and quality of scientific design in cell and gene therapies, photonics and materials discovery, targeting AI skills and the development of tools to power Canada’s innovation engine
Pandemic Response Challenge Program Convene the best Canadian and international researchers to collectively accelerate R&D to address challenges identified by Canadian health experts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The development of three additional Challenge Programs will continue in 2021–22 to address Arctic and Northern issues, the Internet of Things: Quantum Sensors and Aging in Place. Once up and running, these programs will:

  • Apply the NRC's research expertise to challenges in Canada's Arctic and Northern regions, as identified by Northern peoples, communities, and organizations.
  • Create a new generation of sensors, based on the extreme sensitivity of quantum technologies, which have enhanced precision well beyond what is commercially available today.
  • Provide innovative solutions that empower seniors and caregivers to live safe, healthy, and socially connected lives within their homes and communities of choice.

In 2021–22, the NRC will contribute to policy initiatives by continuing to support the Innovation Superclusters Initiative and providing leadership for R&D pillars through the NRC’s Cluster Support programs.

  • In support of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, the NRC is leading the Digital Health and Geospatial Analytics Program, which uses AI and digital technologies to improve healthcare delivery and solve compelling challenges in areas such as agriculture, forestry, environmental monitoring, transportation, and clean energy.
  • Under the Artificial Intelligence for Logistics program, the NRC will contribute to research which brings the power of AI to autonomous flight and will lay the foundation for data repositories necessary for AI solutions for logistics challenges in the Canadian North.
  • In support of the Protein Industries Supercluster, the NRC will pursue research activities focused on crop genetic improvement, value-added processing and quality, and safety analysis to secure Canada’s food supply and help grow the agri-food sector.
  • To align with the new research agenda for the NRC’s Advanced Manufacturing research facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and to support the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster, the NRC will initiate research in the field of sustainable food packaging and next generation metal and polymer additive manufacturing.
  • Under the Oceans Supercluster Support Program, the NRC will contribute efforts to keep Canada’s waters and oceans clean by leading research on microplastics and working to reduce the negative impacts on the marine ecosystems of ballast waters and invasive species originating from shipping activities.

Protecting the health and safety of Canadians

When COVID-19 disrupted the world in early 2020, the NRC pivoted to support the massive government-wide response and to help protect the health and safety of Canadians. In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to support the federal COVID-19 pandemic response by addressing challenges and accelerating solutions that benefit Canadians.

  • The NRC will complete the commissioning and qualification of the new Biologics Manufacturing Centre (BMC) – a Good Manufacturing Practices compliant biologics production facility located at NRC Royalmount in Montréal, Quebec. The BMC will contribute to the production of vaccine doses urgently needed to protect Canadians from COVID-19 and expand Canada’s future biomanufacturing capacity in collaboration with industry, academia and SMEs.
  • To address the growing demand for effective diagnosis of COVID-19, the NRC will develop comprehensive testing capabilities, including quick turnaround screening and enhanced testing of asymptomatic cases. The NRC will also develop digital health functionalities and guidelines targeting next generation virtual care software and vulnerable populations.
  • With a broad range of rapid COVID-19 tests under development, standardization will be essential going forward. The NRC will advance the development of a COVID-19 spike protein reference material, which will serve as a positive control sample for rapid antigen tests kits. COVID-19 antibody reference materials will also be developed for determining population immunity.
  • To combat the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) created by the pandemic, the NRC will continue to play a leading role in supporting the development and success of a domestic manufacturing supply chain by facilitating the emergence of national testing capabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the global and national health-related pressures Canada faces, including the re-emergence of infectious diseases, an aging population, food security, health care in rural and remote areas, and the unique needs of Indigenous communities. In 2021–22, the NRC will leverage its global scientific leadership in biologics, medical devices, food production, and measurement to support a healthier future for Canadians by advancing health technologies, policies and standards.

  • The NRC will support diagnostics and digital health clients in their transition to distributed healthcare, including the adoption of NRC pandemic response innovations.
  • The NRC will increase the competitiveness of collaborators working to advance therapeutic products to clinical trials by deploying innovative bioprocessing platforms, including an improved lentivirus production process.
  • To help government agencies develop policies and make quick and informed decisions related to major public safety issues such as epidemics, illicit drug consumption, and food safety issues, the NRC will develop AI and analytics tools to help monitor media, social media and other sources of public information.
  • The NRC will pursue solutions to green processes; enhance domestic food security, production and ingredient supply chains; and support agriculture waste valorization and sustainable crop production.
  • The NRC will apply its nanotechnology capabilities to develop biosensing solutions for agriculture and food safety.
  • To better understand and mitigate diseases that threaten essential crops, and for the treatment of diseases such as COVID-19, Alzheimer’s and Delirium, the NRC will develop AI and analytics tools for predictive models in bioinformatics.
  • Working with Health Canada, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the British Columbia Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the NRC will measure contaminants in illegal cannabis and vape liquids products. The results will highlight safety concerns and will be part of the Canadian government’s public awareness campaign.

Enabling a more sustainable economy

Changes in the environment are creating new challenges that have the potential to impact modern life in Canada. As a result, the NRC is working collaboratively with OGDs to face these challenges and transition Canada to a more sustainable economy. In support of Canada’s 2030 and 2050 climate goals, and to ensure the resilience of infrastructure to climate changes, the NRC will:

  • Develop guidelines for the design of new, and retrofit of existing homes and buildings to ensure the safety and well-being of building occupants.
  • Continue to work towards achieving carbon-neutral construction and reduce waste by developing methods and tools for the decarbonisation of new and existing buildings and infrastructure assets throughout their lifecycles.
  • Develop resilient coastal infrastructure designs and decision-making tools to evaluate and forecast flooding risk and impact.
  • Publish the 2020 National Model Building Codes by December 2021, ensuring information needed to build climate resilient communities is readily available, and continue to support provinces and territories to transform the National Model Code Development System to better meet the needs of stakeholders and partners (including those related to net zero buildings).
  • Continue to support meteorological traceability by using CO2 isotope ratios in determining natural or anthropogenic fossil fuel related carbon emissions, which are vital parameters to reliably measure and compare internationally.

Gender-based analysis plus

Work with the External Advisory Committee on Indigenous Engagement and Culture will continue in 2021–22 to co-develop the NRC’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy. An NRC-wide working group on Indigenous engagement will be developed to facilitate the exchange of information, serve as a resource to NRC employees, and lead implementation activities in alignment with the guidance provided by the External Advisory Committee.

Diversity has its greatest positive impact when it occurs at high levels within a program; therefore, NRC IRAP will continue to build Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) considerations into its development and advancement opportunities, by continuing to build a diverse and representative workforce, ensuring work with clients, partners and entrepreneurs is free from barriers and contributes to a more inclusive program and innovation system. NRC IRAP will continue to support GBA+ considerations through several planned activities for 2021–22, including:

  • Launch of a data collection tool and corresponding business processes to track the diversity of NRC IRAP’s client base and determine where the program needs to reduce barriers to accessing NRC IRAP’s service offerings;
  • Implementation of modern recruiting tools and marketing techniques to attract, retain and develop a diverse workforce, and increased recruitment efforts, such as participation in conferences and events, to showcase NRC IRAP as an employer of choice;
  • Work to remove barriers for firms led by under-represented groups by providing targeted support through NRC IRAP’s Contribution to Organization funding mechanism. Recognizing that the success of Canada’s economic future requires equal opportunity for firms owned or led by under-represented groups to reach their full potential, support will be based on well-documented researched gaps such as access to capital, mentorship and other issues impacting entrepreneurs from under-represented groups;
  • Support of the 50-30 Program through communications, hiring plans and leadership. The goal of the program is to challenge Canadian corporations to increase the representation and inclusion of diverse groups within their workplace, while highlighting the benefits of giving all Canadians a seat at the table; and
  • Continued participation in the Women's Entrepreneurship Strategy Assistant Deputy Minister Committee and Working Group to support the government initiative.

The NRC will continue to integrate GBA+ into the development of NRC Health, Safety, and Environmental Policies and Programs, and in the review and evaluation of its Research Centres and programs, by maintaining a GBA+ lens in ongoing work.

United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The NRC tabled its first three-year Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy (DSDS) in the fall of 2020–21 and will strive to accomplish the goals and objectives laid out in this plan for the upcoming 2021–22 fiscal year. The NRC’s focus aligns with the six goals identified in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (greening government, effective action on climate change, clean growth, modern and resilient infrastructure, clean energy, and safe and healthy communities) and contribute to several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The NRC’s departmental actions include:

  • Greening government activities that support SDG 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning, and SDG 12.7: Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.
  • Developing new technologies and standards to improve indoor air quality in support of SDG 11: Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
  • Research in wildland-urban interface fires, wastewater treatment systems, and structural health monitoring technologies to support SDG 9.1: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
  • Utilizing the smart grid facility at the NRC to de-risk clean technologies and train local operators in support of SDG 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.


Currently integrated in its operational planning process, the NRC continues to build capacity and expand awareness across its business units to ensure at least one experimental project is run each year in a research division, a corporate division and NRC IRAP. Below you will find the NRC’s experimentation commitments for the 2021–22 fiscal year.

The NRC will continue to experiment with new collaborative approaches by further developing and strengthening its Collaboration Centres with academic partners, including:

  • The Centre for Research and Applications in Fluidic Technologies with the University of Toronto;
  • The CIC-NRC Cybersecurity Collaboration Consortium with the University of New Brunswick;
  • The NRC-Waterloo Collaboration on Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Cybersecurity;
  • The NRC-Fields Mathematical Sciences Collaboration Centre;
  • The NRC-University of Toronto Collaboration Centre for Green Energy Materials;
  • The Karluk Collaboration Space with the Memorial University of Newfoundland;
  • The NRC-CHU Sainte-Justine Collaborative Unit for Translational Research; and,
  • The NRC-uOttawa Joint Centre for Extreme Photonics.

The NRC will continue the implementation of Dialogue Finitiative, a series of strategic projects that tackle the improvement and simplification of NRC internal processes with the aim of making it easier to do business within the NRC. In 2021–22, the NRC will focus on: continued implementation of the new Project Management process that has been defined; instilling a culture and practice of continuous improvement in the delivery of internal services through implementation of the remaining simplified processes (client agreements, procurement, hiring, onboarding); and implementing new integrated information technology (IT) platforms to better support internal business processes.

In collaboration with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), NRC IRAP will finalize and operationalize a communication strategy related to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed in 2020–21. In 2021–22, NRC IRAP will work with BDC's regional offices to develop the most effective deployment mechanism to support common clients reflecting the preferential terms in the MOU. NRC IRAP will develop a mechanism to monitor the progress of this collaborative initiative and measure the impact on SME clients. In addition, NRC IRAP will strategically review its MOU with the National Bank of Canada and develop a plan to effectively communicate and deliver value to SME clients. NRC IRAP will expand the client referral process that National Bank currently deploys in Ontario into Quebec and other parts of the country.

Key risks

The NRC is exposed to a range of political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors that have the potential to impact its ability to achieve results in support of its Core Responsibility. Economic uncertainty, disruptive technologies, cybersecurity, aging populations, and climate change are examples of factors that impact the NRC as an organization, the research it conducts and the businesses it supports

In consideration of its risk context and operating environment, in 2021–22 the NRC will focus on corporate risks related to managing collaboration, financial stability, and protection of information assets.

Planned results for Science and Innovation

Table 1

Departmental Result Indicators Targets Date to achieve target 2017–18 Actual results 2018–19 Actual results 2019–20 Actual results
Departmental Result 1: Scientific and technological knowledge advances
Citation score of NRC-generated publications relative to the world average 1.40 March 31, 2022 1.45 1.51 1.38
Number of peer-reviewed publications generated by the NRC 900 March 31, 2022 982 1,030 1,003
Number of patents issued to the NRC 100 March 31, 2022 167 156 173
Number of licence agreements 40 March 31, 2022 46 31 37
Ratio of the NRC's workforce made up of underrepresented groups relative to Canadian average labour market availability in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)Footnote 2 1.00 March 31, 2022 0.98 1.02 1.01
Departmental Result 2: Innovative businesses grow
Percentage of R&D clients who report positive benefits of working with the NRC 86% March 31, 2022 86% 90% 92%
Percentage revenue growth of firms engaged with the NRC (IRAP-engaged firms)Footnote 3 10% March 31, 2022 25% 27% 31%
Percentage growth in Canada's science and technology related jobs through NRC supported firms (IRAP-engaged firms)Footnote 3 5% March 31, 2022 13% 18% 20%
Revenue earned from clients and collaborators $70M March 31, 2022 $87.0M $79.7M $88.5M
Departmental Result 3: Evidence-based solutions inform decisions in Government priority areas
Revenue earned from other federal government departments $62M March 31, 2022 $82.4M $93.1M $77.7M
Number of NRC peer-reviewed publications co-authored with other federal government departments 45 March 31, 2022 60 55 51

Financial, human resources and performance information for the National Research Council's Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.


Table 2

Planned budgetary financial resources for Science and Innovation

2021–22 budgetary spending
(as indicated in Main Estimates)
Planned spending
Planned spending
Planned spending
1,183,443,723 1,183,443,723 1,056,941,850 1,041,053,943

Financial, human resources and performance information for the National Research Council's Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.


Table 3

Planned human resources for Science and Innovation

Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
3,251.3 3,251.3 3,251.3

Financial, human resources and performance information for the National Research Council's Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.


Internal Services: planned results


Internal Services are those groups of related activities and resources that the federal government considers to be services in support of Programs and/or required to meet corporate obligations of an organization. Internal Services refers to the activities and resources of the 10 distinct services that support Program delivery in the organization, regardless of the Internal Services delivery model in a department. These services are:

  • Management and Oversight Services
  • Communications Services
  • Legal Services
  • Human Resources Management Services
  • Financial Management Services
  • Information Management Services
  • Information Technology Services
  • Real Property Management Services
  • Materiel Management Services
  • Acquisition Management Services

Planning highlights

Developing a diverse, talented, healthy and engaged workforce

Launched in 2019–20, the Strategic HR Plan supports the NRC in building the workforce needed to achieve its strategic goals. In 2021–22, the NRC will continue to implement the strategies and initiatives of its five-year Strategic HR Plan, including:

  • The development of a multi-faceted talent attraction strategy and well-defined value proposition for recruitment;
  • The design and implementation of an updated process for identifying and supporting high-potential employees;
  • The implementation of a supportive mentoring approach;
  • Continued collaboration with the Canada School of the Public Service in the implementation of a leadership program for STEM professionals; and,
  • The implementation of refreshed EDI and wellness strategies.

Building on efforts to enhance the organization's ability to attract, develop and retain a diverse, talented, healthy and engaged workforce, in 2021–22, the NRC will continue to implement measures to support its workforce through the challenges and transitions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • Continued promotion and provision of employee wellness and mental health supports including training, resources and tools to aid employees in navigating through life and work-related challenges and change;
  • Equipping NRC supervisors with resources, tools and specialized learning events that will support them in the context of the pandemic and its associated issues and challenges;
  • Continued development of a renewed human resources policy suite and operating procedures to support changes in the work environment, as well as support for management in their implementation; and,
  • Support to supervisors and employees with differing work arrangements.

Following in-depth reviews led by dedicated project teams, in 2021–22, the NRC will begin to implement approved recommendations for simplified hiring and onboarding processes, including any required structural and service delivery changes, in addition to associated policy changes. The NRC will also finalize and begin to implement a new Official Language Action Plan.

Upholding values and ethics

The NRC will complete the development and implementation of a revised Values and Ethics policy framework in 2021–22, including the Policy on Conflict of Interest, guidelines in support of Research and Scientific Integrity Policy and Research Ethics Policy, and an updated Policy on Harassment and Violence Prevention and Resolution. In addition, mandatory training on conflict of interest, harassment and violence prevention, civility, and research integrity will be provided to all employees. The NRC Ombudsperson will continue to connect with and support employees and managers, and raise systemic issues to senior management for resolution.

Advancing research excellence

In 2021–22, the NRC will make advances toward achieving its vision of a better Canada and world through excellence in research and innovation.

  • The NRC will integrate the Research Excellence Framework through the work of the second cohort of the President’s Research Excellence Advisory Committee.
  • The NRC will formalize its process and structure established in pursuit of external recognition of research excellence through successful nominations to top national and international awards and honours for NRC researchers.
Maintaining state-of-the-art facilities and equipment

The NRC is committed to playing a leadership role in scientific and technical research. This requires access to the necessary infrastructure, tools, and IT platforms, as well as enhancements to information and data management practices that allow NRC researchers, ITAs and business groups to deliver on the NRC’s mandate and meet established objectives in an agile manner. Subject to funding, the NRC will accomplish this by undertaking a number of connected initiatives, most notably:

  • Modernizing research IT platforms by leveraging cloud services, implementing NRC-run specialized research environments and re-investing in high-performance computing.
  • Establishing data management services, repositories and best practices that enable effective long-term access and re-use of high-value information holdings as part of an NRC-wide (and government-wide) data strategy.
  • Advancing a multi-year strategy to embrace new approaches to environments, and partnerships to co-invest in IT infrastructure. This strategy will also focus on managing both open and secure science to enable collaboration, while protecting valuable information.
  • Continuing to enhance employees’ remote working experience by making network and VPN improvements, improving security, enriching the NRC’s collaborative platforms, and enabling the transition from paper-based practices to digital.

The NRC will continue to develop its strategy to revitalize its buildings and real estate, and remain engaged with OGDs and academia in realizing the vision for the Laboratories Canada Initiative. The NRC will continue to play a leadership role in developing the science and research vision and active engagement with partners. This ongoing priority will complement the internal review of research facilities at the NRC. By simultaneously assessing and planning for renewal of NRC buildings and research facilities, the NRC will be decreasing, while improving its workspace and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, environmental footprint and risks

In 2021–22, the NRC will enhance security measures to strengthen the protection of valuable information assets by:

  • Implementing its 2021–24 Departmental Security Plan.
  • Modernizing access control measures in NRC buildings throughout Canada, while implementing a standardized approach to access control and monitoring across the organization.
  • Developing and implementing an all-encompassing compliance program that includes IT security risks, physical security, controlled goods, and emergency management.

Planned budgetary financial resources for Internal Services

2021–22 budgetary spending
(as indicated in Main Estimates)
Planned spending
Planned spending
Planned spending
148,943,324 148,943,324 152,575,603 152,246,011

Planned human resources for Internal Services

Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
984.1 984.1 984.1

Spending and human resources

This section provides an overview of the department's planned spending and human resources for the next 3 consecutive fiscal years, and compares planned spending for the upcoming year with the current and previous years' actual spending.

Planned spending

Departmental spending 2018–19 to 2023–24

The following graph presents planned (voted and statutory) spending over time.

Departmental spending trend graph

Long description of Departmental spending trend graph

Table 6

Planned spending (in millions of dollars)
  2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24
Statutory 241.7 262.8 702.9 247.6 246.4 246.4
Voted 903.5 951.8 1,146.8 1,084.8 963.1 946.9
Total 1,145.2 1,214.6 1,849.7 1,332.4 1,209.5 1,193.3

The increase of $635.1M of the 2020–21 forecast spending ($1,849.7) in comparison to authorities used in 2019–20 ($1,214.6M) is mainly attributable to the funding received for the NRC’s response to COVID-19 pandemic. The NRC received the following funding for a total of $644.0M:

  • $405.2M for NRC IRAP’s Innovation Assistance Program to help high-potential firms, support jobs and keep valuable intellectual property in Canada;
  • $90.0M for the construction of the new Biologics Manufacturing Centre;
  • $67.0M to support businesses that are in early stage of COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics development;
  • $32.5M for the re-engineering of the NRC Royalmount facility in Montréal to become Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant;
  • $15.0M for the launch of an NRC IRAP – Innovative Solutions Canada COVID initiative;
  • $15.0M for the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program;
  • $14.9M for the NRC Pandemic Response Challenge, and
  • $4.4M to support additional student placement through the Student Employment and Research Associate programs.

The NRC’s total planned spending of $1,332.4M in 2021–22, $1,209.5M in 2022–23 and $1,193.3M in 2023–24 varies as a result of sunsetting projects, programs or funding decisions. In all future years, the NRC’s total planned spending is less than its current fiscal year forecast of $1,849.7M. This decrease results mostly from temporary funding. The NRC’s permanent funding envelope is stable in comparison to the current fiscal year.

The following table summarizes the main permanent and temporary year-over year funding variances between total planned spending for each fiscal year.

(in millions of dollars)
ItemsFootnote 4 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24
Total Planned Spending 1,332.4 1,209.5 1,193.3
Variance over prior year (517.3)Footnote 5 (122.9) (16.2)
Permanent Funding Variance
TRIUMF 1.8 1.2 (2.5)
Collective Bargaining 6.7 1.1 (0.4)
Total Permanent Funding Variance 8.5 2.3 (2.9)
Temporary Funding Variance
NRC IRAP – Innovation Assistance Program (405.2) - -
Biologics Manufacturing Centre (54.0) (36.0) -
Sunsetting of the 2014 and 2016 Federal Infrastructure Initiatives (25.1) - -
2019–20 Operating and Capital Budget Carry-Forward (25.0) - -
Re-engineering of the NRC Royalmount facility (21.0) (9.5) -
NRC IRAP – Innovative Solutions Canada COVID initiative launch (15.0) - -
Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (15.0) - -
NRC Pandemic Response Challenge (14.9) - -
Project funding variances for Canada’s participation in the Thirty Meter Telescope 26.7 (1.5) 0.1
NRC IRAP – Innovative Solutions Canada – Medical Countermeasures III 11.0 (13.0) -
NRC IRAP – Vaccines and Therapeutics 10.0 (65.0) (10.0)
CSTIP – 2018–19 Reprofile - (5.6) -
Laboratories Canada - 1.3 (2.7)
Initiative to reduce gas emissions 0.2 (1.0) -
Total Temporary Funding Variance (527.3) (130.3) (12.6)

Budgetary planning summary for Core Responsibilities and Internal Services (dollars)

The following table shows actual, forecast and planned spending for each of the National Research Council's core responsibilities and to Internal Services for the years relevant to the current planning year.

Table 7

Core Responsibilities and Internal Services 2018–19
forecast spending
budgetary spending (as indicated in Main Estimates)
planned spending
planned spending
planned spending
Science and Innovation 992,172,039 1,059,106,699 1,695,456,708 1,183,443,723 1,183,443,723 1,056,941,850 1,041,053,943
Internal Services 153,031,813 155,495,166 154,253,948 148,943,324 148,943,324 152,575,603 152,246,011
Total 1,145,203,852 1,214,601,865 1,849,710,656 1,332,387,047 1,332,387,047 1,209,517,453 1,193,299,954

Planned human resources

The following table shows actual, forecast and planned full-time equivalents (FTEs) for each core responsibility in the National Research Council’s departmental results framework and to Internal Services for the years relevant to the current planning year.

Table 8

Human resources planning summary for Core Responsibilities and Internal Services

Core Responsibilities and Internal Services 2018-19
actual full-time equivalents
full-time equivalents
2020–21 forecast
full-time equivalents
2021–22 planned
full-time equivalents
2022–23 planned
full-time equivalents
2023–24 planned
full-time equivalents
Science and Innovation 3,062.6 3,115.5 3,251.3 3,251.3 3,251.3 3,251.3
Internal Services 887.6 993.9 984.1 984.1 984.1 984.1
Total 3,950.2 4,109.4 4,235.4 4,235.4 4,235.4 4,235.4

The NRC’s total planned FTEs of 4,235.4 in 2021–22 will remain mostly stable through 2023–24. The planned FTEs for 2021–22 increased by 126 when compared to 2019–20 actuals. This increase is mainly attributable to funding increases received from prior federal budgets and supporting additional youth employment opportunities within the NRC.

Estimates by vote

Information on the National Research Council’s organizational appropriations is available in the 2021–22 Main Estimates.

Condensed future-oriented statement of operations

The condensed future‑oriented statement of operations provides an overview of the National Research Council’s operations for 2020–21 to 2021–22.

The amounts for forecast and planned results in this statement of operations were prepared on an accrual basis. The amounts for forecast and planned spending presented in other sections of the Departmental Plan were prepared on an expenditure basis. Amounts may therefore differ.

A more detailed future‑oriented statement of operations and associated notes, including a reconciliation of the net cost of operations to the requested authorities, are available on the National Research Council’s website.

Table 8

Condensed future‑oriented statement of operations for the year ending March 31, 2022 (dollars)

Financial information 2020–21
forecast results
planned results
(2021–22 planned results minus 2020–21 forecast results)
Total expenses 1,758,007,000 1,364,752,000 (393,255,000)
Total revenues 136,280,000 188,423,000 52,143,000
Net cost of operations before government funding and transfers 1,621,727,000 1,176,329,000 (445,398,000)

The NRC's 2021–22 planned expenses and revenues are based on the Annual Reference Level Update (ARLU). They include the NRC’s portion of the expenses accounts of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation (CFHT) ($1.8M) and TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO) ($7.6M). Revenues are composed of research services ($61.9M), technical services ($97.4M), intellectual property, royalties and fees ($7.4M), sale of goods and information products ($3.3M), rentals ($7.5M), grant & contribution ($2.8M). Also included is $6.4M of accrued adjustments mainly from the consolidation of the revenue accounts of CFHT ($1.8M), TIO ($1.9M) and lease inducement ($2.5M).

The 2020-21 forecast expenses include $426.7M of expenditures pursuant to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act. This includes $374.2M for the Innovation Assistance Program, $33.5M for Vaccines and Therapeutics, $10M for the Biologics Manufacturing Centre and $9M for Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. The NRC is also forecasting $80M in capitalized costs for the Biologics Manufacturing Centre not included in expenses. The forecasted revenues are significantly lower than planned results ($52.1M lower) due to a slowdown of activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corporate information

Organizational profile

Appropriate minister:
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Institutional head: Mitch Davies, President

Ministerial portfolio: Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Enabling instrument: National Research Council Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-15

Year of incorporation / commencement: 1916

Other: The NRC is a departmental corporation of the Government of Canada, reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. The NRC works in partnership with members of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Portfolio to leverage complementary resources to promote science and research and integrated innovation, to exploit synergies in key areas of science and technology, to promote the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and to contribute to Canadian economic growth. The NRC’s Council provides independent strategic advice to the NRC President and it reviews organizational performance. The President provides leadership and strategic management and is responsible for the achievement of the NRC’s long-range goals and plans in alignment with government priorities as reflected in his mandate letter. Each of the NRC’s Vice-Presidents is responsible for a number of areas composed of programs and research initiatives, centres, the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program, and/or a corporate branch. Vice-Presidents and NRC managers are responsible for executing plans and priorities to ensure successful achievement of objectives.

Raison d'être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

“Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do” is available on the National Research Council’s website.

For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the “Minister’s mandate letter

Operating context

Information on the operating context is available on the National Research Council’s website.

Reporting framework

The National Research Council’s approved departmental results framework and program inventory for 2021–22 are as follows.

Departmental Results Framework

Long description of Departmental Results Framework

Core Responsibility: Science and Innovation

Departmental Results Framework

Departmental Result: Scientific and technological knowledge advances

  • I1. Citation score of NRC-generated publications relative to the world average
  • I2. Number of peer-reviewed publications generated by the NRC
  • I3. Number of patents issued to the NRC
  • I4. Number of licence agreements
  • I5. Ratio of the NRC's workforce made up of underrepresented groups relative to Canadian average labour market availability in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Departmental Result: Innovative business grow

  • I6: Percentage of R&D clients who report positive benefits of working with the NRC
  • I7: Percentage revenue growth of firms engaged with the NRC (IRAP-engaged firms)
  • I8: Percentage growth in Canada's science and technology related jobs through NRC supported firms (IRAP-engaged firms)
  • I9: Revenue earned from clients and collaborators

Departmental Result: Evidence-based solutions inform decisions in Government priority areas

  • I10: Revenue earned from other federal government departments
  • I11: Number of NRC peer-reviewed publications co-authored with other federal government departments

Program Inventory

  • Advanced Electronics and Photonics
  • Aerospace
  • Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
  • Automotive and Surface Transportation
  • Business Management Support (Enabling)
  • Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation Program
  • Construction
  • Design & Fabrication Services (Enabling)
  • Digital Technologies
  • Energy, Mining and Environment
  • Genomics Research and Development Initiative
  • Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Human Health Therapeutics
  • Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • International Affiliations
  • Metrology
  • Medical Devices
  • Nanotechnology
  • National Science Library
  • Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering
  • Research Information Technology Platforms (Enabling)
  • Security and Disruptive Technologies
  • Special Purpose Real Property (Enabling)

Internal Services


Changes to the approved reporting framework since 2020–21

Structure 2021-22 2020-21 Change Reason for change
CORE RESPONSIBILITY Science and Innovation Science and Innovation No change Not applicable
  PROGRAM Advanced Electronics and Photonics Advanced Electronics and Photonics No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Aerospace Aerospace No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Aquatic and Crop Resource Development Aquatic and Crop Resource Development No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Automotive and Surface Transportation Automotive and Surface Transportation No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Business Management Support (Enabling) Business Management Support (Enabling) No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation Program Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation Program No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Construction Construction No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Design & Fabrication Services (Enabling) Design & Fabrication Services (Enabling) No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Digital Technologies Digital Technologies No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Energy, Mining and Environment Energy, Mining and Environment No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Genomics Research & Development Initiative Shared Priority Projects Genomics Research & Development Initiative Shared Priority Projects No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Human Health Therapeutics Human Health Therapeutics No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Industrial Research Assistance Program Industrial Research Assistance Program No change Not applicable
PROGRAM International Affiliations International Affiliations No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Metrology Metrology No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Medical Devices Medical Devices No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Nanotechnology Nanotechnology No change Not applicable
PROGRAM National Science Library National Science Library No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Research Information Technology Platforms (Enabling) Research Information Technology Platforms (Enabling) No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Security and Disruptive Technologies Security and Disruptive Technologies No change Not applicable
PROGRAM Special Purpose Real Property (Enabling) Special Purpose Real Property (Enabling) No change Not applicable
PROGRAM TRIUMF TRIUMF No change Not applicable

Supporting information on the Program Inventory

Supporting information on planned expenditures, human resources, and results related to the National Research Council’s program inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.

Supplementary information tables

The following supplementary information tables are available on the National Research Council’s website:

  • Details on transfer payment programs
  • Gender-based analysis plus

Federal tax expenditures

The National Research Council’s Departmental Plan does not include information on tax expenditures that relate to its planned results for 2021–22.

Tax expenditures are the responsibility of the Minister of Finance, and the Department of Finance Canada publishes cost estimates and projections for government—wide tax expenditures each year in the Report on Federal Tax Expenditures. This report provides detailed information on tax expenditures, including objectives, historical background and references to related federal spending programs, as well as evaluations, research papers and gender-based analysis. The tax measures presented in this report are solely the responsibility of the Minister of Finance.

Organizational contact information

Mailing address

National Research Council Canada
1200 Montreal Road, Bldg. M-58
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0R6
Phone: 613-993-9101 or toll-free 1-877-NRC-CNRC (1-877-672-2672)
Fax: 613-991-9096
TTY number: 613-949-3042
Web address:

Appendix: definitions

appropriation (crédit)

Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

budgetary expenditures (dépenses budgétaires)

Operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, organizations or individuals; and payments to Crown corporations.

core responsibility (responsabilité essentielle)

An enduring function or role performed by a department. The intentions of the department with respect to a core responsibility are reflected in one or more related departmental results that the department seeks to contribute to or influence.

Departmental Plan (plan ministériel)

A report on the plans and expected performance of a department over a 3 year period. Departmental Plans are tabled in Parliament each spring.

departmental priority (priorité ministérielle)

A plan or project that a department has chosen to focus and report on during the planning period. Departmental priorities represent the things that are most important or what must be done first to support the achievement of the desired departmental results.

departmental result (résultat ministériel)

A consequence or outcome that a department seeks to achieve. A departmental result is often outside departments' immediate control, but it should be influenced by program-level outcomes.

departmental result indicator (indicateur de résultat ministériel)

A factor or variable that provides a valid and reliable means to measure or describe progress on a departmental result.

departmental results framework (cadre ministériel des résultats)

A framework that consists of the department's core responsibilities, departmental results and departmental result indicators.

Departmental Results Report (rapport sur les résultats ministériels)

A report on a department's actual accomplishments against the plans, priorities and expected results set out in the corresponding Departmental Plan.

experimentation (expérimentation)

The conducting of activities that seek to first explore, then test and compare, the effects and impacts of policies and interventions in order to inform evidence-based decision-making, and improve outcomes for Canadians, by learning what works and what doesn't. Experimentation is related to, but distinct form innovation (the trying of new things), because it involves a rigorous comparison of results. For example, using a new website to communicate with Canadians can be an innovation; systematically testing the new website against existing outreach tools or an old website to see which one leads to more engagement, is experimentation.

full time equivalent (équivalent temps plein)

A measure of the extent to which an employee represents a full person year charge against a departmental budget. Full time equivalents are calculated as a ratio of assigned hours of work to scheduled hours of work. Scheduled hours of work are set out in collective agreements.

gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) (analyse comparative entre les sexes plus [ACS+])

An analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs and services based on multiple factors including race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.

government-wide priorities (priorités pangouvernementales)

For the purpose of the 2021–22 Departmental Plan, government-wide priorities refers to those high-level themes outlining the government’s agenda in the 2020 Speech from the Throne, namely: Protecting Canadians from COVID-19; Helping Canadians through the pandemic; Building back better – a resiliency agenda for the middle class; The Canada we’re fighting for.

horizontal initiative (initiative horizontale)

An initiative in which 2 or more federal organizations are given funding to pursue a shared outcome, often linked to a government priority.

non budgetary expenditures (dépenses non budgétaires)

Net outlays and receipts related to loans, investments and advances, which change the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada.

performance (rendement)

What an organization did with its resources to achieve its results, how well those results compare to what the organization intended to achieve, and how well lessons learned have been identified.

performance indicator (indicateur de rendement)

A qualitative or quantitative means of measuring an output or outcome, with the intention of gauging the performance of an organization, program, policy or initiative respecting expected results.

performance reporting (production de rapports sur le rendement)

The process of communicating evidence based performance information. Performance reporting supports decision-making, accountability and transparency.

plan (plan)

The articulation of strategic choices, which provides information on how an organization intends to achieve its priorities and associated results. Generally a plan will explain the logic behind the strategies chosen and tend to focus on actions that lead up to the expected result.

planned spending (dépenses prévues)

For Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, planned spending refers to those amounts presented in the Main Estimates.

A department is expected to be aware of the authorities that it has sought and received. The determination of planned spending is a departmental responsibility, and departments must be able to defend the expenditure and accrual numbers presented in their Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports.

program (programme)

Individual or groups of services, activities or combinations thereof that are managed together within the department and focus on a specific set of outputs, outcomes or service levels.

program inventory (répertoire des programmes)

Identifies all of the department's programs and describes how resources are organized to contribute to the department's core responsibilities and results.

result (résultat)

An external consequence attributed, in part, to an organization, policy, program or initiative. Results are not within the control of a single organization, policy, program or initiative; instead they are within the area of the organization's influence.

statutory expenditures (dépenses législatives)

Expenditures that Parliament has approved through legislation other than appropriation acts. The legislation sets out the purpose of the expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made.

strategic outcome (résultat stratégique)

A long-term and enduring benefit to Canadians that is linked to the organization's mandate, vision and core functions.

target (cible)

A measurable performance or success level that an organization, program or initiative plans to achieve within a specified time period. Targets can be either quantitative or qualitative.

voted expenditures (dépenses votées)

Expenditures that Parliament approves annually through an Appropriation Act. The vote wording becomes the governing conditions under which these expenditures may be made.