Canada has been collaborating in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) with other countries for decades, but the COVID-19 crisis has illustrated just how critical these partnerships are. Right now, Canadian public, academic and private researchers, often funded by federal and provincial programs, are working with their counterparts in the United States, Europe and Asia, to find a global vaccine and develop new therapeutics. 

Canada’s international STI collaborations extend well beyond the public health sector to cover clean energy, life sciences, climate change and strategic national priorities such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Several federal departments fund and support these partnerships, including Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; the National Research Council; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, for Innovation, and various science-based departments and agencies.

Global Affairs Canada promotes STI partnerships by bridging international STI networks in three ways: 

First, it leverages Canada’s 15 STI agreements with leading innovation nations and the European Union. This helps Canadian SMEs and researchers access international research and development programs – such as the Eureka Network or the European Union’s Horizon 2020 – and institutional linkages for the joint development and commercialisation of technology. Programs such as the Canadian International Innovation Program and CanExport Innovation help support this access. 

Second, Global Affairs Canada helps Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access foreign markets by providing information and opportunities, including introductions to key players in foreign STI markets and helping to organize technology pitch sessions in Canada.  

Last, the Department supports Canadian start-ups in their fundraising efforts, connects international venture capital funds to Canada’s innovation ecosystem and helps Canadian companies protect their intellectual property.

Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) plays a key role in promoting these STI partnerships. The TCS has 25 dedicated STI counselors and officers at 19 embassies and consulates in 11 leading innovator nations. They are supported by other members of the TCS at headquarters in Ottawa and at six regional offices across Canada. 

The activities of this network are generating tangible economic benefits for Canadians. In 2019-2020, the TCS supported 159 new international research partnerships, which contributed more than $152 million to the Canadian economy. The TCS also delivered nearly 450 services to venture capital clients and provided STI-related services to more than 1,200 Canadian companies and 200 Canadian partner organizations.  Events organised in partnership with the Canadian Venture Capital Association have directly resulted in new investments in Canadian venture capital and private equity funds by countries such as Norway and Mexico. 

Being a global leader in STI means securing Canada’s economic future.  The benefits from research, development and innovation determine our national prosperity, our competitiveness and our well-being. They also generate other key strategic benefits, such as supporting our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or assisting our efforts to address climate change.  Perhaps now more than ever, our ability to collaborate on an international scale will touch the lives – and help save the lives – of many Canadians. Global challenges require global solutions. 

As you form your international STI plans, Global Affairs Canada and the TCS can help. With modern collaboration agreements in leading innovating countries around the world, a dedicated cadre of STI experts abroad, as well as deep and expanding domestic partnerships within the Canadian innovation ecosystem, the TCS is poised to assist you. To find out more, please go to