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Federal spending on S&T declines in FY17-18 with share of intramural spending hitting 34-year low

The share of federal spending on S&T conducted in-house by government departments and agencies declined to its lowest level in 35 years as federal spending intentions for 2017-18 are projected to decline 1.2% to $11.3 billion, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. The drop to 44% of the total is largely attributable to a sharp (6.7%) decline in related scientific activities (RSA) spurred by the absence of StatsCan Census Program survey which was last conducted in 2016 and occurs every five years.

Latest Issue:

Number 6

Volume 31 June 14 2017

Editorial

Seizing opportunity and taking risk may not be considered innately Canadian traits but they should be. US president Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House, his nativist rhetoric and the Republican Party’s plans to slash spending on key areas of research have opened up opportunities on several levels.

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NRC working with industry, academia to build value chain for lithium-ion batteries

Escalating demand for specialty materials that go into next-generation lithium-ion batteries has prompted the National Research Council to create an R&D group to bolster the value chain for their use in the transportation and stationary applications. Advanced discussions between NRC officials and several companies are already underway to determine the extent of their participation in the new lithium-ion battery technologies (LiBTec) program, which kicked off June 7 with a webinar.

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Canada to lead council of global research funders

Canada’s renewed efforts to raise its profile on the global stage were bolstered last week with news that Dr. Mario Pinto will take over as chair of the Global Research Council (GRC), a federation comprising the heads of 70 science and engineering funding councils from 50 countries. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) president replaces Dr. Yuichiro Anzai, president of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, who now becomes vice-chair. As GRC chair, Pinto will represent the interests of Canada’s major research granting agencies.

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Quantum computing, brain research top list for new US-Canada collaborations

President Donald Trump’s push for major cuts to research funding in the US are fueling even closer scientific ties between our two countries. Preliminary talks have begun between the US National Science Foundation and research funders in Canada to kickstart new research collaborations in quantum computing, the brain, biodiversity and the Arctic. Recent meetings held in both Ottawa and Washington are expected, as a first step, to result in a Dear Colleague letter from the NSF encouraging its researchers to identify opportunities for joint projects the rapidly evolving field of brain research.

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CNL lays out 10-year vision for transformation of Chalk River nuclear facility

The transition of the storied nuclear facility at Chalk River ON to the private sector and its future role in scientific research is becoming clear with the release of a 10-year strategic plan by its new owner Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). Increasing R&D collaboration with domestic and international partners and a greater commercial focus will become the norm following the shutdown of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor on March 31/18 as CNL seeks to leverage both internal and external S&T capabilities into new or enhanced products and markets.

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Opinion Leader:
Tom Tessier

Where is the protection of patents in Canada?

There is a big problem with how Canada deals with goods infringing on patents being imported in Canada. In a nutshell, Canada doesn’t. Canada can seize goods at the border that infringe on a copyright or a trademark. But there is no general mechanism for goods infringing on a Canadian patent. Sure, my legal advisors tell me that in exceptional circumstances a court injunction could be obtained. But this is very rare.

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Time is ripe for boosting support for research and research infrastructure says departing CFI president

Over his seven year term as president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Dr Gilles Patry has witnessed firsthand the dramatic changes in the research landscape and the rise of innovation as a key priority for government, academia and industry. Once considered something of an (albeit expensive) outlier in the research ecosystem, the CFI is now more closely aligned with other players from researchers to industry as well a key driver in efforts to encourage cross-sectoral collaboration nationally and internationally.

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Race is on to secure a share of $950M in supercluster funding

One of the most anticipated competitions for S&T funding in recent memory has begun with the launch of the competition for $950 million in supercluster funding that will see up to five sectoral, knowledge-based initiatives selected to become future drivers of economic and job growth. Since its initial announcement in Budget 2016, groups in several areas — from agri-food to artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles – have formed to develop collaborative proposals that will now have an opportunity to compete for $950 million in funding between 2017 and 2022.

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Angel investment growth continues in 2016 but policy concerns remain unaddressed

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is waiting for a federal policy response to its recommendations to stimulate the investment class as it reports a 15% year-over-year increase of its members’ investment activity for 2016. NACO members comprised of 34 distinct angel groups invested $157.2 million, up from $133.6 million in 2015 when 31 groups reported and the fourth consecutive year of increases.

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R$ talks with Dr. Rebecca Keiser — NSF international chief pursues new collaborations with Canada

President Donald Trump intention to slash key areas of his government’s research spending is inadvertently providing an incentive for new research collaborations between the United States and Canada.
The president’s fiscal 2018 budget, unveiled earlier this year, proposed massive cuts for climate science, medical research and energy projects across government, including major granting organizations such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite a reprieve in early May when Congress voted to mostly maintain current budgets for the rest of 2017, it’s uncertain whether the axe can be avoided again in 2018.

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Genome Canada considers awarding grants directly to companies

Genome Canada may expand its successful Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) and award funds directly to companies with the in-house capacity to develop potentially disruptive technologies. The current GAPP program — which announced the results of its latest competition May 26 — only funds university researchers with industry partners, usually small firms that lack the in-house expertise to undertake research projects.

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News Bites

News Briefs

Waterloo to create global-scale additive manufacturing lab

The Univ of Waterloo has secured $22.4 million cash and $5 million in in-kind support to establish a Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab that’s expected to generate 18 new partnerships, create more than 80 jobs and commercialize 21 advanced manufacturing technologies. Core funding of $8.9 million comes from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) through the Investing in Commercialization Partnerships initiative, announced in 2013. The Ontario government is also providing $6.2 million — the largest investment the province has made in post-secondary advanced manufacturing (AM). The lab will focus on AM technologies (industrial 3D printing) to process metals with new sensors, machine intelligence and quality-assurance software. To date it has attracted industry partners from the aerospace, mining and automotive sectors. The lab builds on years of technology development at the university with dozens of professors, engineers, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students and co-op students slated to participate. Once fully ramped up, it’s expected to be among the 10 largest university-based AM facilities in the world.

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