Canada’s energy future: an examination of R&D and innovation management practices in Canadian electric power utilities

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University of New Brunswick


This thesis examines research and development and innovation management practices in Canadian electric power utilities. The goal is to analyze the approaches and methods that are currently being used by utilities in their transition to sustainable, efficient, low-carbon power systems. The primary research question is: What are the emerging R&D and innovation strategies occurring in electric power utilities, specifically focusing on the Canadian context? The interview questions also examine team structure and composition, partnerships and collaborations, and external knowledge acquisition. Data collection for this study consists of semi-structured interviews with Canadian utility employees and published utility documents. Concepts and models examined include stage-gate model, business model canvass, open innovation, design-driven innovation, lead-user innovation and embedded research. The findings include that research, development and innovation in the Canadian electric power utility industry is primarily conducted through partnerships with external suppliers and vendors, with a focus on short-term, incremental advancement with low risk.