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What are key sectors? What does "key" mean?

A: Key sectors are industry sectors that meet three criteria: they are important to the Canadian economy; research and technology development and innovation play a key role in their success; and they are sectors in which NRC can make a significant contribution.

What are these sectors and how were they selected?

A: NRC key sectors are: Aerospace – Agriculture – Automotive – Chemical Industry – Construction – Medical Devices – Information and Communications Technologies – Manufacturing & Materials – Biopharmaceutical.

These sectors were identified as a result of extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis of the criteria mentioned above.

What is the purpose of this effort? Didn't we used to work in these industry sectors before?

A: Yes indeed, we worked in these industry sectors before. What is different now is our approach. We want to be driven by a technology pull rather than a technology push. This means assessing our clients' needs and matching them to our existing interdisciplinary competencies to create opportunities where NRC can generate more impact both in the short and longer terms. These opportunities will assist industry in capturing and leveraging the interdisciplinary expertise of all NRC's research institutes and centres, the business support capacity within NRC-IRAP, as well as competitive intelligence from NRC-CISTI to create more impact.

Who are our main partners and what roles will they be playing?

A: Research projects in key industry sectors will be specifically tailored to meet the needs of the Canadian industry. There will be a strong focus on industry input and exchange of information with industry, e.g. through industry advisory boards, regular workshops, stakeholder meetings etc. NRC will consult major industry stakeholders throughout the development of its key sector strategy, and will look for their support and involvement on specific mid to long-term S&T initiatives.

How does this initiative fit in with NRC's Business Strategy?

A: A primary goal of NRC's Strategy is to contribute to the competitiveness of Canadian industry in key sectors and to the economic viability of communities. NRC is addressing this goal by focussing its R&D efforts in up to eight strategically important industry sectors for the Canadian economy where NRC can bring added value through its multi-disciplinary and integrated capacity.

How does this initiative connect with the federal S&T Strategy?

A: The main goal of the government's S&T Strategy is to ensure a competitive marketplace and foster an investment climate that encourages the private sector to innovate. NRC's efforts under key sector strategies will connect industry to the full breadth of its capability to boost the innovation capacity of Canadian companies.

How have we involved all of the other key sector players in Canada?

A: During the development of the Strategy as well as at present with the development of Key Sector Strategies, we conducted consultations with players in the targeted industry sectors. Our decisions were based on what we heard.

Can we get a copy of NRC's overall sector strategy and individual sector strategies?

A: Not all the strategies are finalized. Some are still under development. When these strategies are finalized and approved by SEC, they will be made available on Zone.

What level of resources is NRC putting into this sector initiative?

A: Key sector strategies will be implemented through institute programs, collaborative programs/projects between institutes as well as, in some cases, cross-NRC initiatives. New funding will be allocated based on alignment with these strategies and other elements of NRC's strategy. These new funding allocations will be part of the NRC Business planning cycle (see table below).

New Investments(Total over 3 years)

 
 

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

Total

NRC Aerospace

770

5,120

5,120

11,010

NRC Fuel Cells

800

800

800

2,400

NRC Infrastructure

0

400

500

900

NRC Construction

600

200

200

1,000

NRC Manufacturing & Materials

1,425

1,050

0

2,475

NRC Health & Wellness

450

250

0

700

Total Engineering

4,045

7,820

6,620

18,485

What level of investment have our partners made in this strategy i.e., what leverage does NRC expect from its investment in the future of Canadian industry in this sector?

A: As was done with individual institutes in the past, we expect that our partners in the various industry sectors will leverage our expertise and resources to improve their innovation capacity and therefore their competitiveness. We expect that providing industry with more integrated research and technology services will result in more collaborations with us.

Is this new money? Is NRC putting some of the resources freed up in the recent reallocation exercise into this? How much?

A: NRC is providing "seed money" for the development of the key sector strategies. It is anticipated that R&D and innovation expenditures will be funded from existing budgets including funds freed from the recent realignment exercise. New resource requirements will be examined as detailed strategies are developed, and will be assessed in relation to other NRC goals as part of the business planning cycle.

How does this compare with what NRC was investing in (aerospace, construction, etc.) before?

A: At this point, NRC's total investment in key sector related activities will not likely change significantly. What will change is the way resources are leveraged to achieve the objectives of the strategy – i.e. NRC will be taking a more integrated approach to key sectors, thus leveraging our own individual budgets which should, in effect, result in a "greater bang for our buck". In the future, we may increase our investments to respond to new industry needs as they are identified.

How is what we're doing different from what individual NRC institutes were doing before (e.g. aerospace, construction, etc.)?

A: Inter-institute collaborations existed before but to a limited degree. We are just taking it a step further by identifying new multi-institute collaboration opportunities that can take full advantage of what the NRC as a whole has to offer to particular key sectors.

How can institutes contribute to several sector initiatives at once without losing their original focus?

A: Institutes will continue to develop in their own fields of expertise and competencies. They will apply these competencies to one or more of the NRC strategy elements, including key sectors, within the limitations of their resources.

However, extending their expertise to other areas will become inevitable as new technologies become more and more complex and require multidisciplinary input.

Institutes should engage in "multiple" key sector strategies for which their technologies are applicable – either on their own, or in combination with technologies/expertise being developed in other institutes – in effect enabling individual institutes to have greater impact.

Are we rolling out these eight sector initiatives at once? Which ones are first and when will each of them come on line.

A: We started with aerospace, followed by construction, information and communication technologies and manufacturing and materials. The other key sector strategies are at various stages of development and their roll out will be phased in over the next couple of years.

How will NRC sustain its strategies over the next three years? Do we have the resources to sustain them?

A: These strategies are NRC's priorities and will be funded as such. Implementing them will help us optimize and leverage our resources to make the organization sustainable. The question that we should ask ourselves is whether we can afford not to implement them.

Will industry and other partners stay engaged in these initiatives over the longer term as conditions in a sector change and evolve?

A: If we are successful in responding to industry's needs through these initiatives, there is no reason why industry partners should not remain engaged. We will ensure that there is a strong focus on industry input and exchange of information through regular dialogue, e.g. through advisory boards, regular workshops, stakeholder meetings etc.

Since NRC will be working with industry to develop the technologies "of tomorrow", individual companies will seek to remain engaged to benefit from the leading edge technologies that will result from these collaborations.

How much impact can NRC really make in these various sectors? For example, what are the expected outcomes in terms of improved competitiveness, faster-to-market technology development and other direct industrial benefits? How will we measure it? Will we be able to quantify our return on investment?

A: The ultimate outcome of the key sector approach is to have NRC's R&D activities targeted on meeting the needs of industry in key areas of economic goals. It is expected that achieving this outcome will serve to improve the competitiveness of Canadian industry. One of the proposed measures for our success for example, will be the number of companies demonstrating success in commercializing NRC technologies and products.

What's the difference between NRC's National Programs, Cross-NRC Initiatives and Key Sector Initiatives?

A: National Programs are being devised to have a positive impact on issues that every day Canadians consider to be priorities: i.e. environment, health and wellness and sustainable energy. The focus is on areas which have the greatest potential for positive Canadian economic impact, and in which NRC can lead and/or coordinate the implementation of a national program. National Programs involve many disciplines from across NRC and other research and commercial organizations (including other government departments, academia and industry players).

Cross-NRC Initiatives are multi-disciplinary initiatives which help mobilize and focus resources across the organization to maximize the impact of its work in key areas of health and wellness, sustainable energy and the environment and in regard to a collective need of one or more key sectors such as nanotechnology or advanced materials.

Key Sectors Initiatives are research activities involving multi-institute collaborations and focusing on eight industry sectors: Aerospace – Agriculture – Automotive – Construction – Medical Devices – Information and Communications Technologies – Manufacturing & Materials – Biopharmaceutical. Their main objective is to integrate NRC competencies to meet industry needs in these important areas of the Canadian economy.

How do the various sector initiatives work together and coordinate their activities?

A: Each NRC Research Vice-President will be accountable for one or more of the sectors. Directors General will lead the development of plans and objectives for each sector. Each Industry Sector will have a steering committee of participating DGs, and a coordinator who will act as contact points for internal collaborations and industry clients on behalf of all participating institutes and programs, and in collaboration with institute BDOs.

Are NRC-lRAP and NRC-CISTI part of the initiatives?

A: Each Industry Sector Strategy identifies technology platforms and innovation platforms which include networks and commercialization resources. NRC-IRAP and NRC-CISTI are major components of these innovation platforms for the industry support and competitive intelligence. NRC-IRAP have already established teams for NRC key sectors.

How will this strategy affect the way we do our work?

A: The Strategy is our roadmap to ensure the sustainability and continued relevance of NRC as a government organization. This is an issue that concerns us all and therefore we all need to participate fully in the implementation process. We need to look for opportunities to work more efficiently, to work together in new and creative ways to generate more impact and to leverage our limited resources.