Is Canada’s investment in its S&T enterprise stagnating? That’s likely a timely question for many researchers and innovative firms as news emerges on funding for new research infrastructure and the state of high performance computing.
As the federal government’s fiscal wiggle room shrinks, new investments through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) are becoming smaller and more focused. In the case of HPC, funding is being stretched to the point of no return. Most provinces are facing growing budget deficits of their own and can offer little help in easing the burden.
In the case of the CFI, a major change in policy direction towards support for major science facilities has taken a huge chunk out of funding for new research infrastructure. The emphasis within its traditional mandate is on maintaining and enhancing existing facilities rather than backing bold new ventures (see page 4).
For the HPC community, a lack of operating resources and declining opportunities offered by its historical funding source (CFI) is placing the future of at least two research clusters at risk (see page 3). Unless the CFI decides to re-launch its National Platforms Fund, a new funding source for HPC will be essential.
The prospect of a double dip recession only darkens an already cloudy future for Canada’s revitalized research base. Tough decisions will have to be made and S&T must be given much higher priority for the scarce funds that are likely to be available. Pre-Budget consultations this fall will take on an added sense of urgency. Let’s hope the government is in the mood to listen — and act.