The spectacular rise in Bell Canada’s ranking in a list of Canadian corporate R&D spenders in 2002 is not quite as momentous as it appears at first blush, the telco says. The boost from 119th place in 2001 to sixth last year is attributable to changes in how the spending was calculated. "The unfortunate part of all this is the folks who did the R&D list should have probably re-classed the ranking last year and they didn’t for whatever reason," Bell spokesman Nick Kaminaris explains to Network Letter. "In the past what we used to do is we only used to report the R&D that would go through our income statement, which was a much smaller number. And this year when we resubmitted our information for their survey once again, we looked at what other companies did." Most other companies used the criteria established in the federal government’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program. That results in higher numbers being considered than the profit-and-loss figures Bell had been submitting. Kaminaris says the reconfiguration leads to the survey publisher, Research Infosource Inc. of Toronto, comparing "apples to apples" when looking at Canadian corporate R&D spending. Mark Henderson, editor on the project, is surprised that Bell had not been adopting the SR&ED approach before. "Higher R&D numbers are to everybody’s benefit. They make you look good; they make you look more innovative," he tells NL. "Why it took one of the biggest corporations in the country that long to come up to speed with what everybody else is doing is a mystery to me." (Network Letter and the Canada’s Top 100 Corporate R&D Spenders list were once produced by the same company. When it went into receivership in January 2000, ownership of the publications was split between Decima Publishing Inc. and Toronto’s Impact Group.) Kaminaris estimates that the 2001 ranking would have been closer to the 2002 position had the revised figures been factored in. He finds the additional $15 million Bell Canada is spending on R&D statistically insignificant. Henderson wonders if the move to increased R&D spending is connected to the federal government’s drive to improve Canada’s standing in the international community. Canada currently ranks 15th in global R&D spending. The government hopes to raise that to fifth place.