L'investissement en recherche et innovation
"La poursuite de l'excellence"
Bref soumis au Comité permanent des finances de la Chambre
Le Partenariat en faveur des sciences et de la technologie (PFST) regroupe
25 associations canadiennes en sciences et génie. Pour assurer
que la recherche scientifique et technique continue de contribuer pleinement
à une qualité de vie toujours meilleure pour les canadiens
- De nouvelles initiatives de gestion scientifique pour le plus grand
bénéfice du Canada.
- De nouvelles mesures pour assurer un accroissement de la recherche
en milieu industriel.
- Des mesures pour assumer les coûts indirects de la recherche
PAGSE is a consortium of 25 Canadian science and engineering
societies and a select group of the most R&D-intensive Canadian
companies representing all strategic sectors. It was formed four
years ago, in response for the need for a collective voice for scientific
research in Canada. Our primary objective is to work in partnership
with government, to demonstrate the scope and value of Canadian
research and innovation, and to assist government in the coordination
of Canadian science and engineering research activities (see annex
PAGSE has undertaken special studies in cooperation with Industry
Canada; it has a University-Industry Committee which addresses issues
of considerable importance such as the recently released study "SETTING
PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH IN CANADA"; we convene, in partnership
with NSERC, a monthly breakfast meeting on Parliament Hill known
as "Bacon with Eggheads", where we showcase Canadian research and
the application of science; we hold, in partnership with Industry
Canada, presentations on science and technology policy and related
issues; and we organize an annual symposium each Fall - Symposium
2000 will be held on October 24 on the topic of "Partnerships
for Success". This meeting will focus on the advantages of synergies
between university, government and private sector in research.
PAGSE congratulates the Federal Government for the bold initiatives it
took in the last three budgets to ensure that Canadians are given the
greatest opportunities to be front line players in the KNOWLEDGE BASED
ECONOMY. Primary examples include:
- The Canada Foundation for Innovation: a very innovative program
when it was created in 1997 by the Federal Government "to strengthen
Canadian capability for research". PAGSE welcomes the extension of the
mandate of the CFI to 2005, and the highly significant investment of
- The Canada Research Chairs: another outstanding program that
will not only reinforce research capabilities in Canadian institutions
but will also be a strong incentive to young scientists to consider
Canada as a promising career choice. The result will be that Canadian
research institutions will benefit in the modern "Brain Circulation"
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research: an imaginative
new concept in advancing research in the broader context of the health
All of these programs were designed in such a way that all non government
research institutions were eligible thus fairness in the pursuit
of excellence was assured.
Innovation and creativity are the driving forces of the new
economy. In this knowledge-based economy, the comparative advantages
of countries are created not inherited....the advantage goes to
those countries that are innovative, highly productive, able to
adapt the latest technologies and willing to invest in the
skills development of citizens.
Canadian Government Executive
Issue 1, 2000
Research and innovation need to be continually nurtured. It is not sufficient
to periodically implement stand-alone programs and expect an on-going
impact. PAGSE therefore recommends that three initiatives form the basis
for strategic investments, in the 2001 budget, in the area of research
- New Governance Initiatives to Benefit Canada.
- Government measures to enhance research in industry.
- Indirect costs of university research.
PAGSE is confident that if these recommendations are adopted they will
go a long way towards meeting the following objectives:
- Ensure that Canada remains a major player in the new economy;
- Provide Canadians with equal opportunity to succeed; and
- Create an economic and social environment where Canadians can enjoy
the best quality of life and standard of living.
Science and innovation are pivotal to the development of a knowledge-based
society in Canada, and to the enhancement of the quality of life
of our citizens. Good governance depends on our elected (House of
Commons) and appointed (Senate) officials being well-informed on
issues of science and innovation, so as to take initiatives to assure
Canada's competitiveness on a global basis, to propose legislation,
and to respond to matters of immediate concern. Leading nations
have Committees on Science as part of their governance portfolio.
1. New Governance Initiatives to Benefit Canada:
(a). Need for Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Science and Technology
Let us consider the United States and the United Kingdom as examples.
The U.S. Congressional Committee on Science has existed since the Sputnik
era. As described in a history of the committee: "The Science Committee
has a long tradition of alerting the Congress and the nation to new scientific
and technological opportunities that have potential to create dramatic
economic or societal change". The U.K. Parliament (M.P.'s/Lords) has a
Science and Technology Committee which has long played a central role
in policy development, new initiatives, etc.
PAGSE recommends that a Standing Committee on Science and Innovation
be established in the Parliament in Canada. Two options are suggested:
a House of Commons committee, or a Joint House-Senate committee. In addition
to the responsibilities described above, the Committee on Science and
Innovation could: address science and innovation in terms of economic
development; foster cross-agency interactions among science-based government
departments; nurture research in industry; promote partnerships, where
merited, among university/industry/government sectors; make international
comparisons with other countries at the forefront of research, innovation,
and economic development; and engage in foresight activities so as to
carve out niches where Canada can be a beacon to the world. The creation
of a Standing Committee on Science and Innovation would be an important
milestone in the evolution of governance in Canada. This committee would
make a significant impact on Canada's ability to seize opportunities which,
with confidence and determination, will result in the 21st century belonging
(b). Office of Science and Technology
In accord with practices in most G8 countries (e.g. U.S., U.K., Japan)
PAGSE recommends that an Office of Science and Technology be created,
and located in the Prime Minister's Office. This Office would,
amongst other responsibilities, interface with the Standing Committee
on Science and Innovation. It could also, for example, study and make
recommendations on big science facilities proposed for Canada which, up
to now, have been considered on an ad hoc basis. The Office would consist
of a Director and Staff. Such an Office will play a major role in advancing
our knowledge-based economy and in raising the profile of science, technology
and innovation within the government.
(c). The National Academies of Canada
PAGSE highly recommends that the joint proposal by The Royal Society
of Canada and The Canadian Academy of Engineering to create the National
Academies of Canada (NAC) be financially supported by the government in
its forthcoming budget. The NAC would, for example, contribute
in an effective and objective manner to providing expert advice to government
and the public. It would provide independent advice so essential to a
society which is increasingly knowledge-based as well as oriented towards
science and technology. In addition, the NAC will enable Canada to, finally,
participate in new initiatives with academies of other countries, and
profit by the benefits accruing from such involvement. Currently, this
has not been possible for the constituent academies because of lack of
financial resources. Indeed, Canada is unique among the leading industrial
nations (e.g. U.S., U.K., France, Netherlands, Japan) in not having nationally
funded academies. An investment in the new National Academies of Canada
will add genuine value to Canada.
While it is evident that industry has been increasing its investment
in research and development very substantially in recent years,
these increases have occurred mainly in the information technology,
pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors. The fact remains that the
majority of manufacturing firms do not even have an engineer on
staff, much less an R&D capability. The small firms (SME's) are
the ones that need some tangible assistance.
2. Government measures to enhance research in
There are 2 needs to be filled concurrently:
- Ensure that Canada becomes an important player in new promising technology
areas such as IT, medical research, space, biotechnology, and communications;
- Ensure that Canada stays ahead in traditional areas such as agriculture,
petrochemicals, forestry, autos, metals, and mining.
In proposing specific programs, it is important to underline that PAGSE
recognizes that any government program or involvement can not be construed
as a subsidy. It is also essential to understand that there are differences
of view as to what constitutes research and that there exists a need to
build better bridges that overcome these different perceptions.
With these factors in mind, PAGSE recommends that placement programs
be established in which the salaries, or portions of salaries, of new
PhD and M.Sc. graduate students can be covered for a defined period of
time with firms that do not have that expertise on site, and do not have
the means to fully assume the costs. This would involve additional
resources and a broadening of the mandate for NSERC's Industrial Research
Fellowship Program (IRF) and/or of the Industrial Research Assistance
Program (IRAP) of the National Research Council of Canada.
Governments should increase their investment in university research.
They should also resolve, on an urgent basis, situations where universities
have difficulties conducting research when federal funding is provided,
but when limited provincial support is available for the associated
indirect costs. Public Investments in University Research: Reaping
ACST report May 4, 1999
3. Indirect costs of university research:
Recently the Advisory Council on Science and Technology has been given
the responsibility of providing advice and recommendations on "the role
that the federal government might play in supporting the cost of university
research". This is an issue that is of great importance for research and,
therefore, for maintaining the economic well being of Canadians.
PAGSE strongly recommends that the federal government accepts an increased
role in supporting research in Canadian universities by assuming a fair
share of indirect costs as is done in other industrialized countries.
With the creation of the Canada Foundation for Innovation the federal
government took an essential step in the necessary upgrade of research
infrastructure. Now is the time to address the corollary and equally important
issues of efficient operation and maintenance of research facilities.
In several other countries indirect costs amount to 50% or more of research
grants. PAGSE believes that, although this figure might be ideal, it is
too big a step to initially implement. Until administrative and management
issues are sorted out we strongly recommend that indirect costs
of research be valued at a minimum of 20% of research grants from federal
government sources, i.e: NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR, and research grants
from other government agencies and departments. PAGSE further recommends
that, initially, the management of this fund along with additional resources
be assigned to the granting councils and relevant government agencies.
Submitted for PAGSE/PFST
Denis A. St-Onge, O.C.
The three mission components of Canadian Research in Science and Innovation:
"Firms focus more in the 'development' component of R&D while
universities target 'research'. Federal government laboratories
are involved in directed research"
Setting Priorities for Research in Canada
Partnership Group for Science and Engineering, April 2000
Research can be divided into three mission components: Discovery,
Policy and Innovation.
"...about 60% of decisions taken at all levels of governments
involve science and technology. In a democracy like ours, well informed
voters are necessary to take informed decisions."
The purpose of Discovery research is to push the frontiers of
knowledge, to seek new understanding of the laws of nature. Its fundamental
drive is scientific curiosity which expands our knowledge base but may
or may not lead to new products being developed. Astronomy is a good current
example of this type of research. The advancement of knowledge is the
principal purview of university based research and is an essential component
in the training of highly qualified scientists.
-- support for decision making, policy development and regulations
-- development and management standards
-- support for public health, safety, environmental and/or defence
-- enabling economic and social development
Building Excellence in Science and Technology,
Best Report, Dec. 16, 1999
Policy driven research is motivated by the public good. Its purpose
is to provide the scientific information needed for sound policies which
are enacted by governments for the benefits of citizens. It is directed
research which is defined by the "need to know" required by regulatory
activities and by a broad array of public institutions. This research
carried out primarily in Government institutions and laboratories provides
"unbiased" scientific information required for enlightened decisions by
politicians and other decision makers. Current research in Environmental
issues such as Climate Change, Geological Hazards and Genetically Modified
Organisms illustrate these concerns.
"...the Canadian R & D expenditures of Nortel Networks exceeds
those of all Canadian pharmaceutical firms combined."
Setting Priorities for Research in Canada
Partnership for Research and Engineering,
Innovation research is motivated primarily by the need to get
useful and marketable products and processes developed with the view that
such products will generate profits for the companies involved. This is
where society in general sees the most immediate and tangible benefits
Knowledge generated as result of research, regardless of its origin,
benefits all: it is the basis on which further research is pursued, it
is used to define policy needs and it is the essential basis for innovation.
Thus knowledge is a web which not only links but nourishes all aspects
of research from basic to applied.
Adequately funding research is, primarily, the responsibility of governments:
"...one of the misunderstandings that I think is out there, that
setting up biotech companies is going to bring substantial sums of money
into universities. It doesn't." Dr. Michael Smith, Nobel Laureate,
Peter Wall Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology, UBC.