It’s comes as little surprise that increased funding for fundamental research is the focus of so many pre-Budget submissions to the parliamentary Finance committee (see page 5). The front end of the research and innovation ecosystem has not fared well in recent years, increasing the odds that the reinvestment pitches by several agencies and organizations will find a receptive audience.
A decade of targeted investments to the granting councils have left them unable to properly support the many excellent research proposals submitted to them — a dilemma felt most by young researchers entering the system.
Yet basic research is only one area where there’s demonstrable need. Venture capital, intellectual property reform, genomics and digital infrastructure also figure prominently in the submissions. Global competitiveness is at stake and many working parts of the Canadian science, technology and innovation ecosystem need strategic reinforcement.
Genome Canada — an agency that has fared relatively well in recent years — wants to up its game and expand its global presence. Calls for building on the successful revival of the venture capital industry are also emanating from several organizations to ensure that the current tech mini-boom is sustained.
Whether these and other STI proposals will be addressed in the March 22 Budget remains to be seen. The Liberal government has raised the profile of innovation but budget pressures and infrastructure stimulus measures mean the STI agenda faces stiff competition for scarce resources.