I will post later about my debate yesterday with Isabelle Blain, NSERC’s Vice-President, Research Grants and Fellowships on the topic of NSERC Discovery Grant Evaluation
Systems: New and Old. But I can already say that there was a consensus –at least in the audience– that Sir Isaac Newton could not get a discovery grant from NSERC under the newly devised system. Why? He couldn’t be bothered with HQP! More later.
But the Bank of Montreal sees things differently as they made a $4-million donation towards the Sir Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. This is only the first of five upcoming chairs to be named after the deities of Mathematics and Physics: Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac.
Thanks to Mike Lazaridis, the founder and co-chief executive officer of the BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd., the Perimeter Institute keeps “scoring” in the fundraising department. Don’t you want this guy on your side?
But this is not the only reason that Lazaridis is a hugely positive force for Canada’s research effort. He gets it like no other. Listen to this:
Theoretical physics (the description of natural phenomena in mathematical form) may seem like knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It is anything but, as Mike Lazaridis tells it. The “next generation of value” will be intellectual capital, rather than natural resources, he says. When discoveries are made in theoretical physics, whether in Canada or elsewhere, “the country with the largest dedicated force to interpret, understand and disseminate that information will be the first to commercialize it.”
It is really too bad that Lazaridis sits no more on NSERC’s council.