Budget 2018 delivers smart science policy

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NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Dr. Robert Luke, Vice-President, Research and Innovation at OCAD University and member of ACCRU.
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The federal government’s Budget 2018 is an advance for the science, research and innovation communities. The overall approach to gender equity, diversity and decolonization is important and timely.

The government has clearly heard the call from the Fundamental Science Review to increase our investment in research. There is a strong focus on supporting interdisciplinary and international collaborative research, which is essential for not only uncovering new areas of knowledge but for realizing the value of ideas as they are translated into application, products, services and other innovation. This underscores the importance of design disciplines as crucial to Canada’s innovation carrying capacity.

And here’s the big news: “Budget 2018 proposes an investment of nearly $4 billion in Canada’s research system to support the work of researchers and to provide them access to the state-of-the-art tools and facilities they need” (p 82).

This is smart policy. Linking investments in science and technology ($3.2B investment in “research” writ large) to national priorities and, importantly, diversity and decolonization, is imperative for inclusive innovation. It is also in line with other leading OECD countries that set national priorities and focus on the spectrum of research – from idea to invoice – in order to realize the benefits of public investment in the production of public knowledge.

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Budget 2018: ACCRU welcomes historical investments in fundamental research

PRESS RELEASE
February 28,2018

Cliquez ici pour une version en français.

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec – The Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU) welcomes the historic investments that will contribute significantly to the deployment of Canadian fundamental research. These investments are consistent with the orientations of the Report of the Expert Panel on Fundamental Science Review.

The Review Panel collected over a thousand responses and sat at tables with hundreds of colleagues across disciplines, career stages and provinces to ask about their work. The passion, dedication, and frustrations expressed, and the fears that resources – both intellectual and material – were wasting under the current system, were universal and powerful. I am pleased that this government has taken strong steps towards filling the gaps identified throughout the report.
–Dr. Claudia Malacrida, Associate VP Research at the University of Lethbridge, member of the ACCRU and member of the Expert Panel on Fundamental Science Review.

Among the budgetary measures announced, ACCRU highlights in particular:

  • Increased funding for SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR, which ends several years of declining funding for basic research.
  • The recurrent nature of the CFI’s forthcoming funding, which responds to the demands of the academic community for a predictable competition schedule to facilitate planning for research development in Canadian universities.
  • Additional investments in the Canada Research Chairs program that could contribute to the early career development of more than 250 promising young researchers.
  • The introduction of new funding opportunities that recognize the importance of internationalization in science and high-risk research, the imperative of intersectoral research and the need to rapidly mobilize scientists in critical situations that require a rapid and science-driven response.

These basic science investments, as well as those announced to facilitate collaborations between business and universities, will stimulate a knowledge-based economy across Canada. Canada’s some hundred universities are home to excellent researchers who work in a wide variety of scientific niches and are closely linked to the social, environmental, economic, technological and cultural conditions of the regions and communities in which they are located. These universities also train a majority of highly qualified Canadian personnel who will benefit from an increase in the level of scientific activity carried out at their universities and the opportunities for collaboration that they open up, particularly with SMEs. It is these highly skilled people who will advance prosperity in diverse communities across Canada and address the global challenge of sustainable development.

ACCRU also welcomes the importance attached to equity, diversity and inclusion in the allocation of funding for scientific research announced in the budget. The Government has challenged SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR, and the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat – which will be at the forefront of today’s funding announcement – to extend these principles to the program guidelines and policies of their organizations in order to facilitate support for the diversification of scientific research communities across Canada. ACCRU has voiced concerns about the increasing concentration of federal research funding in the hands of fewer researchers and the limitations this creates for training students at diverse universities across Canada. Implementing new efforts to ensure diversity and inclusion in research represents a major step forward in harnessing all of Canada’s scientific talent – those who serve Canadian society.

ABOUT ACCRU – Founded in 2011, the Alliance of Canadian Universities of Integrated Research brings together small and medium-sized, multipurpose universities from all ten provinces. Together, our members represent close to half of Canada’s universities.

For information:
Lyne Sauvageau, Chair of ACCRU
lyne.sauvageau@uquebec.ca

Saint Mary’s researcher appointed to Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Dr. Kevin Vessey is among the latest appointments to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada(NSERC), the nation’s focal point for discovery and innovation in natural sciences and engineering.

The appointment was announced recently by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.

Dr. Vessey joins 18 distinguished Canadian’s on NSERC’s governing council. NSERC is a federal research agency that plays an important role in Canada’s research and scientific landscape. It invests over $1.2 billion a year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada

It is an honour to have been appointed to NSERC,” said Dr. Vessey. “I look forward to working with President Mario Pinto and the other Council Members to help oversee the extremely important work of NSERC in its mandate to support research and innovation across Canada.”

Read the Government of Canada announcement here.

University of Lethbridge Associate Vice-President (Research) appointed to SSHRC governing council

Dr. Claudia Malacrida, University of Lethbridge Associate Vice-President (Research), joins 14 other diverse Canadians in being appointed to the governing council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s science minister, announced the appointments to SSHRC, the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports post-secondary research and research training in the humanities and social sciences, in Ottawa this week.

“I welcome the returning and newly appointed council members to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council,” says Duncan. “This impressive list of diverse candidates will help the council further its support for the social scientists and scholars who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge and helping us better understand the world around us.”

“I’m honoured and excited to take on this new responsibility,” says Malacrida, who has been appointed to a three-year term. “As a social scientist with a long career in the West, I’m pleased to be included and to bring the perspectives of my colleagues to the national level.”

SSHRC plays an important role in Canada’s research and scientific landscape and is committed to fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in research. SSHRC invests more than $350 million every year, supporting more than 8,000 graduate students and nearly 14,000 researchers. The governing council meets regularly to set policy and program priorities and allocate budgets.

Malacrida, a professor of sociology, joined the U of L in 2002. Her work investigates questions of power and how difference is constructed, both historically and in the present. Her research interests include eugenics, relational challenges faced by disabled women, and issues of power and medicalization in childbirth practices.

“SSHRC funding is critical to sustaining research that responds directly to community needs and the improved quality of life of Canadians,” says Malacrida. “As someone who has been supported by SSHRC grants throughout my career, I appreciate how these funds support developing talent from undergraduate and graduate students right through to senior investigators working on global issues.”

Read the Government of Canada announcement here.

ACCRU Responds to the Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science’s Report

The Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities Responds to the Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science’s Report

For immediate release

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Dr. J. Kevin Vessey, Chair of the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU)
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As chair of the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU), I want to congratulate the Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science on the release of its comprehensive report, Investing in Canada’s Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research.

We are very pleased with the report and we support the majority of the recommendations made by the panel.  In particular, we are very supportive of the panel’s primary recommendation that annual Federal spending across its main four funding agencies increase from approximately $3.5 billion to $4.8 billion.  We are also very pleased that many of the panel’s recommendation speak to better coordination of efforts, processes and programming across the major Federal funding agencies.

With that in mind, there are still areas where we wish that the panel’s report could have better articulated that research excellence is found in universities of all sizes across Canada.  We feel strongly that the support for fundamental science in Canada must be a level playing field across the country for awarding funding to universities regardless of their size.  We were very pleased with the panel’s conclusion that “the recent erosion of Canada’s research competitiveness . . . has been exacerbated by a policy shift in favour of new programs that focus resources on a limited number of individuals and institutions.”  This is something that we have long argued is an issue for the research ecosystem in Canada.

Additionally, there are some recommendations in the panel’s report that ACCRU member universities are extremely well placed to help deliver.  For example, the panel recommends that “The three granting councils should collaborate in developing a comprehensive strategic plan to promote and provide long-term support for Indigenous research.”  Many of the ACCRU member universities are located in rural settings and have excellent relationships and on-going research with indigenous and First Nations peoples, makes these universities especially well-suited to help realize the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations on research.

Overall we are very pleased with the findings of the advisory panel. Our member universities look forward to working with the Government of Canada as it acts upon recommendations from the report to improve the fundamental research enterprise in universities of all sizes and in all corners of Canada.

About the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities

  • Established in 2011, the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU) brings together vice-presidents research from over 30 small- and medium-sized universities across all 10 provinces in Canada.
  • ACCRU acts as a voice for communications on research and scholarly activity issues important to its members with research funding agencies, policy makers, and the public at large.
  • For a list of ACCRU member universities, please see: http://www.accru.ca/our-members/

 

Media Contact:

Dr. J. Kevin Vessey
Chair, ACCRU
Associate Vice President Research
Saint Mary’s University
Halifax, NS
Tel:  902-491-6478
Email: kevin.vessey@smu.ca

Dr. Robert Luke appointed to Expert Panel on the State of S&T and IR&D in Canada

Dr. Robert Luke, Vice-President Research and Innovation, and OCAD University’s representative to ACCRU, has been appointed to the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) Expert Panel to assess the current state of science and technology (S&T), and industrial research and development (IR&D) in Canada.

Initiated at the request of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), this assessment will be the third edition in the State of S&T and Industrial R&D assessment series.  Additional information on this panel is available on CCA’s website.

ACCRU congratulates Robert and wishes him well as he undertakes this important work.

 

ACCRU welcomes the opportunity to participate in defining the future of Canada’s research agenda

Upholding a large and diverse research portfolio in all of Canada’s universities is in the higher interest of Canada and all Canadians. It not only contributes to building Canada, it maintains Canada’s universities’ ability, from coast to coast and in all sectors and in all of Canada’s regions, to react promptly and adequately to diversity full range of economic, social, demographic, natural and/or technological challenges which continue to face our country both in short and the long run. Maintaining a diverse research portfolio is congruent with what Canadians expect from a strong scientific ecosystem. Only by maintaining and strengthening the research capacity of all of Canada’s universities will a strong ecosystem exist which serves Canada’s higher interests, both by exploring ideas arising from the insight and inquisitiveness of researchers but also by addressing the needs and challenges of its different organizations and communities at the local, regional, national and international level.

Click here to read ACCRU’s response.

Analysis reveals smaller universities being shortchanged in NSERC competitions

Researchers from ACCRU member universities at Lakehead University, University of Regina, and Universite de Moncton recently published an analysis of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Discovery Grant decisions.  Their analysis “consistently reveal the probablilty of success and the mean monetary value of awards in Discovery Grant competitions are higher for large universities than for small- and medium-sized universities.”  To learn more, visit University Affairs or read their research article in the journal PLOS ONE.