As a nation which spends a low proportion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research and development compared to other advanced economies, there is a perception that Canada is falling behind in innovation.
In terms of construction, the Canadian Construction Association is taking the bull by the horns and trying to bridge the gap, working toward establishing a new research institute.
Named Canadian Construction Innovations, the goal of the new institute revolves around driving competitiveness, productivity and financial performance within the industry.
“We put a steering committee together to establish an institute to increase investment in research and development in the Canadian construction industry” Don Whitmore, chair of the new committee, is quoted as saying in the Journal of Commerce. Whitmore adds that the committee has already conducted several meetings.
The objectives of CCA revolve around increasing private sector investment in R&D and commercialising research and processes that generate new business opportunities.
Whitmore says the committee is planning a number of roundtable discussions with a range of stakeholders over the coming months to develop a framework to promote industry collaboration and innovation.
In addition, he says, meetings will also be held with the National Research Council, the Industrial Research Assistance, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Mitacs to engage these organisations in the initiative.
“Construction is largely a service industry that responds to the needs of owners and what they would like to build,” Whitmore says. “We are going to include all the stakeholders, including owners, contractors, architects, engineers and suppliers in this initiative. Using this group, we are moving out to develop through a series of round table discussions across the country.”
Whitmore says that in the past, academics have not been as well-connected to the construction industry as they should have been and adds that the industry has failed to capitalise on much of the academic work done in the area.
He says the new institute’s board will set key priority areas such as sustainable development, infrastructure and procurement, from which networks will be created and core research efforts undertaken by professionals operating under the guide of industry practitioners.