You know the problem with setting targets? Eventually, a day of reckoning will come. In the Prosperity Plan, the New Brunswick government set a very ambitious target for research and development. From the Plan:
NB will join the top four provinces in R&D expenditures per capita by 2012.
Now, the reason why this was an ambition target (as I have detailed elsewhere) is that R&D expenditures will have to increase by over $100 million per year to hit it (unless we lose massive population – this per capita thing really annoys me).
Well, the last estimates of R&D spending still have us dead last in Canada and a study out today is a harbinger of what we can expect. Statistics Canada looked at the total number of people involved in research and development in all the provinces. Guess what? On a per capita basis, only little old PEI has less R&D workers than New Brunswick. The study estimates that there are 1,800 people working in R&D (that includes academic, government and the private sector). Now just to put things in context, we would have to hire an addition 2,400 R&D workers just to get to the national average. Let’s say the average R&D worker makes $70,000 per year. Somebody would have to spend $168 million just on the payroll for these folks.
The Prosperity Plan’s deadline is 2012 – the day of reckoning is coming. Might be a good idea to start working towards a few of these targets while the sun is shining.