Governments across the globe are looking for ways to diversify their economy, create jobs and increase  investment in their jurisdiction. To assist in accomplishing these goals, many governments are developing or expanding their research and innovation activities.

Research and innovation is a focus area of the Government of Alberta to achieving success in the global economy. Alberta Innovates is an Alberta government agency with the mandate to support the  government’s long-term research and innovation goals and generate value to Albertans.

Because Alberta Innovates plays an important role in provincial research and innovation, we examined the organization’s processes to define and measure value, how that affects the selection and monitoring of its research and innovation projects, and its reporting of the value generated from the projects chosen.

We found Alberta Innovates did have processes to measure, monitor and report whether its research and innovation activities generate value in accordance with government priorities, but not all these processes were effective and improvements can be made.

Alberta Innovates reports to Albertans which of its activities positively impact government priorities.  However, it is not demonstrating to Albertans to what extent these activities are cost-effectively generating value, nor the lessons learned for future research and innovation.

Measuring research and innovation value generation can be challenging as value generation goes beyond direct economic return compared to the amounts spent. Nevertheless, it is important to have effective performance reporting processes to assist management and demonstrate accountability to Albertans.

Alberta Innovates can improve its reporting of value generation by setting targets of what it is to achieve
and analyzing the results achieved to those planned results and to their cost. Management started to make adjustments to its processes prior to us completing our audit.

Since 2016, Alberta Innovates’ total expenditures are $1.3 billion. Given the significance of this investment, Alberta Innovates should have effective processes to demonstrate the value its activities generate for Albertans.

By clearly linking and quantifying desired outcomes, measures and targeted planned results, Alberta Innovates can better demonstrate annually to Albertans what its programs and activities achieved in a cost-effective manner relative to desired outcomes.

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