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Innovation: Research Revenue Attracted From Private Sector Sources

The research revenue attracted from private sector sources metric sets targets in dollars for research revenue attracted from the private sector. The source will be the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) annual report. As with the other research metric, the target settings process is simply a rolling average of the previous three years, minus the band of tolerance.

The metric is not initiated until the second year of SMA3.

No historical data were provided in the SMA3 agreements; however, the creation of this metric was done in the context of CAUBO’s existing reports. CAUBO’s data summarized suggest that most institutions have stable or growth trajectories for this metric, with the exceptions of the University of Windsor and Wilfred Laurier University which have 2019 revenue from the private sector falling to a four-year low, and to a lesser extent, Western University.

No other established U.S. PBF program uses this metric.

Within the complexities of the programs within the European research PBF programs, funding metrics are typically tied to public funds, but many metrics measure non-funding metrics from all research activity.

The existence of this metric may be singularly justified in the interest of not exclusively measuring funding from Tri-Agency sources.

Other metrics used in European research PBF programs have their own distorting effects that the Tri-Agency aggregation may not be as susceptible to.

It is difficult to tell if placing research revenue attracted from private sector sources as a potential peer to research funding and capacity: federal Tri-Agency funding secured is appropriate without a similar context to draw from. The potential equivalence of the two research metrics cannot be justified by any existing evidence; however, SMA3’s weighting scheme places this determination with institutions. There is some evidence in the implementation of these two metrics by Ontario institutions.

Implementation of placing research revenue attracted from private sector sources metric

Research funding metric weights

Note. Each research metric (Research funding and capacity: Federal Tri-Agency funding secured and research revenue attracted from private sector sources) is aggregated in the lower chart. Each metric independently weighted over 5% is shown in the upper insert.

McMaster University weights this metric at 10% at initiation in the second year but lowers its weighting to 5% in the subsequent years. Queen’s University ticks above 5% to 6% in the final year. Only the University of Toronto weights this metric highly, at a consistent 15%. When combined, the University of Toronto has more of its SMA3 weighted towards the two research metrics than any other institution, perhaps reflecting the University of Toronto’s share of Tri-Agency funding amongst many other factors.

All other institutions have selected the minimum weighting for this metric, suggesting a general rejection of the metric. The University of Guelph’s narrative highlighted that it is “the top comprehensive university in Canada with respect to corporate research income as a percentage of total research income” (MCU & University of Guelph, 2020, para. 88; see also Research Infosource, 2019). Ryerson was ranked second in the same measure, but both have assigned this metric the minimum value. The University of Guelph went on to explain that given “the metric’s dependence on economic conditions, U of G took a risk-based approach to determine the weight of this institutional metric. U of G will allocate 5 percent of our funding to this metric throughout the SMA3 period” (MCU & The University of Guelph, 2020, para. 94).

The interpretation of most institutions would suggest that this is seen as more of a measure of the economy than institutional performance and thus not a metric the institution can safely assign more than the minimum weight to.

Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities, and University of Guelph. “2020-2025 Strategic Mandate Agreement: University of Guelph.”, September 14, 2020.

Research Infosource Inc. “Top 50 Research Universities by Tier Corporate Research Income 2019 Comprehensive.” Research Infosource Inc., 2019.