“Enough reports. We’ve seen enough,” NSERC’s President Suzanne Fortier said in a recent interview with the Globe&Mail. “At the end of the day, we all agree that Canada needs to up its game in innovation”.
She also talks about how she found a way to double the number of companies involved in NSERC’s research partnerships with universities – to 3,000 from more than 1,500 now.
“The agency recently launched a $10-million-a-year program to link researchers and companies on targeted short-term projects. The early feedback (but not all) from a recent evaluation has been positive and NSERC is looking to expand the initiative.”
Dr. Fortier said she isn’t particularly worried about an ongoing review of Ottawa’s R&D spending, adding: “I know what we have to do.”
But we thought that the review was about evaluating why after more than $7 billion dollars in annual government spending, we are still saying that “Canada needs to up its game in innovation.”
Fortier also said: “RIM doesn’t want help on near-term research. They do that themselves. What they want to see is 10 years from now.”
We agree. RIM gets it. After all, they did found the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. But they are not the only one thinking long term, which is exactly what basic research is about. There are thousands of first class basic researchers in Canada doing it, and they deserve our support.
She also said that NSERC will have to do a better job of focusing its limited funds in areas where Canada has the potential to be a global leader, such as the Arctic, water, energy, manufacturing and quantum computing.
As Polanyi –to whom NSERC has dedicated a major prize— said: “It is an abiding mystery why having failed so definitively to pick winners in the marketplace for goods, governments have been empowered to pick winners in the far more subtle marketplace for ideas.”