Abstract This paper analyses the implementation of strategic research programs and contracts on the development of solar and bioenergy research in Canada. Since the scientific community and institutions, such as funding agencies and universities, appear to be the two most important actors, each is studied through bibliometric indicators. Patents are added as an indicator of more applied and technology-related activities. By comparing the funds researchers received with their publications in solar and bioenergy, it becomes possible to chart the evolution of their output in order to assess whether or not a reorientation occurred. Strategic research is a good instrument to intensify research, while contracts seem more suitable for reorientation.