U of G Welcomes Science Panel Recommendations

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A report on federal government support of fundamental research unveiled this week is welcomed by the University of Guelph, said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).

The report, Investing in Canada’s Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research, was issued yesterday in Ottawa by the Fundamental Science Review panel. It makes 35 recommendations on research governance and calls for an additional $1.3 billion in annual funding, including increased support for early-career researchers.

“The report offers a blueprint for sustained excellence in university-led research across a range of disciplines,” said Campbell.

“It signals an opportunity to significantly improve research at universities throughout Canada, recognizing the major role university research plays in the health, well-being, safety, security, and prosperity of our country.”

The federal panel was struck last year to review Canadian science research, including identifying funding gaps across a range of disciplines.

Key recommendations include:

• Creation of a new National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation to oversee federal strategy and investments in research and innovation

• Formation of a formal coordinating board for four federal research granting agencies − Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) – to be chaired by a new Chief Science Adviser

• The new coordinating board should develop and harmonize funding strategies across agencies, particularly to support early-career researchers

• Stable annual funding from the federal government for the CFI, and higher funding for CIHR, SSHRC and NSERC

• Major renewal of the Canada Research Chairs program, including restoring funding to 2012 levels and accounting for inflation since 2000

• Increased federal funding for the Research Support Fund to better align funding with the full costs of research

• Make independent, investigator-led and interdisciplinary research a priority

The recommendations chart an intelligent course to ensure research at Canadian institutions keeps pace globally, said Campbell.

“We are especially pleased to see recommendations that will elevate Canada’s research ecosystem, providing an infusion of funding and strategy that will enable Canadian researchers to make groundbreaking fundamental discoveries and generate tomorrow’s innovations. These recommendations would help us build on the foundation of research excellence we have at the University of Guelph,” he said.

Noting that U of G will review the report more fully, he said, “This report comes at a crucial time for universities. We are most grateful to the panel members who generated the report for their dedication to the research enterprise in Canada, and for insights that can help guide the future of research and innovation in our country.”