Editorial – 30-9

By Mark Henderson, Editor

RE$EARCH MONEY would like to congratulate the National Research Council on its landmark 100th birthday.

Born in the throes of World War One, the NRC has contributed in immeasurable ways to the nation’s technological advancement, spun off several high-profile agencies and provided industry with strategic research, technical support and infrastructure from coast to coast to coast.

The NRC has been an R&D powerhouse throughout the most disruptive era of technological advancement in history. By attracting and nurturing superb talent, the agency has underpinned successful industries from telecom and computer graphics to aerospace and agriculture.

However, as the NRC moves into its second century of operation, does it still have the capacity and the mandate needed to enhance — let alone maintain — its impact on Canadian S&T?

Notably absent from the official celebrations on June 6th was its president, John McDougall, who abruptly took leave March 21st for unspecified personal reasons. Since arriving in 2010, McDougall engineered a radical makeover of the organization, eliminating individual institutes, centralizing decision-making auth-ority and rebranding the NRC as a research and technology organization.

Opinion is split on the merits of the transformation. While the mechanics of overhaul are largely complete, morale at the NRC is reportedly low.

For the NRC to extend its track record of remarkable success, Canada’s political masters need to make some hard decisions on the vision and long-term funding of this pillar of technological expertise.