The Canada First Research Excellence Fund is hoping to inspire a new generation of researchers and reinforce Canada’s commitment to innovation. Credit: Sanofi Pasteur on Flickr (Creative Commons License).
Good news for our neighbors to the north: Canada’s new budget includes a $1.5-billion economic shot-in-the-arm for university research funding over the next 10 years.
Starting with a $50-million investment in 2015-2016, the Canadian government hopes the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund will inspire a new generation of researchers—and demonstrate a long-term, ongoing commitment to innovation.
“This is a pivotal moment for research excellence and innovation in Canada,” David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba and chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), said in a press release. “The establishment of an ambitious new research excellence fund, coupled with the commitment of enhanced funding in discovery research through the federal granting councils, represent a catalytic investment.”
Though the plan is, as Barnard says, “ambitious,” it’s a welcome acknowledgement of the contributions of university research to Canada’s economy. (The Globe and Mail reports that the research contributed to Canada’s private sector is nearly $1 billion each year, with an additional $1 billion dedicated to community and nonprofit groups anually.)
According to the AUCC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will receive $37 million more for advanced research annually and, on an ongoing basis, $9 million for indirect expenses.
Though it’s good news for Canada, recent reports stateside show a decline in spending (and funding) for federal research labs. With a proposed 2015 budget that includes an additional $56 billion in spending for initiatives such as the creation of 45 manufacturing innovation hubs (including the ones in Detroit and Chicago just recently announced), we’ll have to wait to see how that increased spending might impact (if at all) research in the States.