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Flaherty Says Canada Companies Spending Too Little on Research

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said “unacceptably low” levels of investment in research and development by companies is weighing down the nation’s competitiveness.

“We have unacceptably low levels of support for R&D and innovation in many parts of the Canadian private sector,” Flaherty said today in the text of a speech he’s giving in Waterloo, Ontario, home of Research In Motion Ltd.

While the global economy is “increasingly driven by new ideas and knowledge-based industries,” Canada trails other nations in overall business spending on research and development, Flaherty said. Such spending has been decreasing in real terms since 2006, he said.

“Our greatest renewable national resource is our grey matter, and our government has gone to great lengths to nurture it. It is plain to all that Canada’s private sector cannot rest on its laurels,” Flaherty said.

Flaherty noted that the Geneva-based World Economic Forum cited spending by Canadian businesses on research and development as an area for improvement in a Sept. 7 report.

The government appointed a panel in October headed by Thomas Jenkins, chairman of software company Open Text Corp., to review federal financial support of research and development. The panel is expected to report in October, Flaherty said.

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