Digital Economy

Expected Outcomes
Funding Opportunities


The Digital Economy priority area supports research and related activities into the nature, impact and integration of digital technologies in all aspects of our economy, society and culture. This includes all subject matter eligible for funding under SSHRC’s former Digital Media priority area. 

Research in the social sciences and humanities makes vital contributions to our understanding of the opportunities and impacts of the digital economy and the demand for new knowledge in this area continues to grow. In keeping with the provisions of the 2011 Federal Budget, SSHRC has committed up to $7 million in additional funding for new research and related activities on the digital economy, with a particular focus on partnerships. 

The development and adoption of digital technologies has triggered profound changes in how public and private organizations function and how individuals behave and interact. As these technologies continue to evolve, these changes are likely to become more transformative, and even disruptive, to existing business and social paradigms. The Digital Economy priority area encourages the critical exploration of how individually and collectively we adapt to, and take advantage of, widespread connectivity and digital media. 

The new Digital Economy priority area builds on the results of previous research supported by SSHRC, including the former Image, Text, Sound and Technology program, SSHRC’s previous Digital Media priority area, and international partnerships supported through the Digging into Data Challenge. In addition, SSHRC funded 25 knowledge synthesis papers on the digital economy in 2010. These papers advanced our understanding of critical economic, social and cultural dimensions of the digital world, and provided valuable insights on relevant future lines of inquiry. 

Potential Lines of Inquiry  

SSHRC has drawn on the knowledge synthesis papers and input to the government’s national consultation on the digital economy to identify the potential lines of inquiry that are most relevant to Canada. Applicants are encouraged to consider these lines of inquiry when developing their proposals and considering opportunities for partnerships. However, potential lines of inquiry are provided to raise awareness of critical issues that require research, and not to constrain creativity.  

The following lines of inquiry reflect the research interests of academics; policy-makers and regulatory agencies at all levels of government; business and industry stakeholders; educators; social advocacy groups; the legal community; and private citizens. Opportunities for collaboration exist for researchers and federal government departments with a special interest in one or more of these topics.

  1. Capacity to innovate using digital technologies
  2. Building a world-class digital infrastructure
  3. Growing the information and communications technology industry
  4. Creating Canada’s digital content advantage
  5. Building digital skills for tomorrow
  6. Research in the digital era

Expected Outcomes

Research and related activities undertaken through the Digital Economy priority area are expected to:  

  • deepen our understanding of:
    • the evolving digital economy, its opportunities, challenges and impacts on society, industry, individuals and the environment;
    • the role of digital technologies and media;
    • the changes in behaviour and ways of learning and working that would optimize benefits for Canadians; and
    • how to position Canada in a global context;
  • inform policy and actions through evidence, analysis, and insights on key issues and problems, including how policy and regulatory frameworks affect citizen integration in the digital economy and business competition, investment and innovation in key sectors;
  • promote engagement in research and sustained relationships with policy-makers, practitioners, professional associations, community organizations and end users of research; and/or
  • provide new research insights on individuals and their societies through the creation and use of digitized content (text, graphics and images, audio, video) as a method of research inquiry and through innovation in research.

Funding Opportunities

Applicants whose proposals are relevant to this priority area are invited to indicate this in their applications. 
Current opportunities are: