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reports and analyses of the forces driving
science and technology investment in Canada

copyright 1999, Research Money Inc.

editor: Mark Henderson


Volume 10, Number 13, AUGUST 21, 1996

How it looks to me.... by Mark Henderson

FEATURE REPORTS | RESEARCH BRIEFS | PERSONALITIES

How it looks to me....
by Mark Henderson, editor, RE$EARCH MONEY The National Research Council's new integrated technologies strategy -- conceived last year and now being implemented -- is the embattled Agency's best hope to gain relevancy, but at what cost to the national research effort? Besieged by budget cuts and sidetracked by past attempts to create a truly national research resource, the NRC is completing a major shift towards commercially applicable activity that has left many of its historic research efforts by the wayside, such as basic physics and chemistry.

The Manufacturing Technologies Framework is the first of five documents that outline the future direction the NRC will take into the next millennium. These Frameworks are coloured by the S&T Strategy that seeks to corral all government-funded research within parameters designed to achieve specific national objectives: wealth creation, sustainable development and quality of life and the advancement of knowledge.

Laudable goals indeed, but critics contend that the move away from curiosity-driven research may leave Canada lacking the necessary scientific base required to maintain fundamental knowledge.

Yet within the new NRC reality, the first Framework is an excellent indication that a new era of government/industry/university interaction is about to unfold. Its goals are realistic, workable and seemingly fiscally achievable. And manufacturers need it. Under the circumstances, one couldn't have hoped for much better.


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FEATURE REPORTS...

DEVELOPING CORE COMPETENCIES KEY THRUST AS NATIONAL
RESEARCH COUNCIL UNVEILS NEW MANUFACTURING STRATEGY

CMMT & MERCK FROSST RESEARCHERS ANNOUNCE MAJOR DISCOVERY
WHILE BC GOVERNMENT DELAYS FUNDING FOR NEW FACILITY

THERATECHNOLOGIES DEVELOPS BIOTECHNOLOGY FOCUS
AND RAISES NEW EQUITY TO PURSUE AMBITIOUS R&D AGENDA

ATLANTIC CANADA'S FIRST DEDICATED
VENTURE CAPITAL FUND READY FOR LAUNCH

OCRI PRESIDENT MOVES TO ASSUME TOP
SPOT AT COMMUNICATIONS RESEARCH CENTRE

TECHNOCAP CAPITAL RAISED TO $100 MILLION

DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS NEGOTIATING WITH
OUTSIDE OPERATORS FOR WEST COAST FISHERIES LABORATORY


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RESEARCH BRIEFS

  • Business sector logs biggest increase in R&D personnel
  • Univ of Toronto physicist wins $100,000 for photonics research
  • Canadian MS research receives $2.5 million for 15 projects
  • TRLabs receives $10-million WD loan to further research
  • Cameco collaborates to convert uranium into animal feedstock
  • NSERC study shows job benefits of national scholarships
  • Alberta harmonizes environmental research units


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Business sector logs biggest increase in R&D personnel The number of R&D personnel working in Canada rose 33% between 1983 and 1993, with most of the increase in the private sector. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, the number R&D scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff working for business jumped 64%, to 60,530 nearly half the 126,910 national total. The next highest increase was registered by institutions of higher education, for a total of 44,620. In the federal government, 16,400 R&D personnel were employed in 1993, only 100 more than 11 years previous, while R&D personnel working for provincial government administrations dropped 15.7% during the same period, to a low of 3,500 in 1993. Personnel working in the natural sciences and engineering field accounted for 84% of the Canadian total, and represent 96% of R&D personnel working for the federal government. Of the Canadian total, 59% were researchers (a 100% increase in the years surveyed), while 29% were technicians and 12% were support staff....


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Univ of Toronto physicist wins $100,000 for photonics research The Univ of Toronto physicist Sajeev John is the recipient of the first $100,000 William F Mclean Award to support his pioneering work in photonics. John's research is with photonic gap band materials which are proving to be the best method of transmitting and storing information. He and his colleagues at the Ontario Laser and Lightwave Research Centre (located at the university) are exploring ways to utilize light to replace functions currently using electricity, such as computers, providing much faster running speeds....


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Canadian MS research receives $2.5 million for 15 projects The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is funding 15 research projects worth $2.5 million, the largest annual outlay in its history. Areas covered by the projects include immunogenetics, myelin regrowth, magnetic resonance imaging and virus studies, as well as a study examining the cost of MS to the Canadian economy using Alberta and Nova Scotia data. Among those awarded funding are the Univ of Calgary, McGill Univ and Vancouver Hospital....


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TRLabs receives $10-million WD loan to further research Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is investing $10 million in TR Labs, a not-for-profit telecommunications research consortium of 36 industrial partners and universities. The five-year loan will be re-paid via commercialization of TRLabs' technologies in areas such as wireless communications, data networking and photonics. The agreement with WD contains provisions to ensure that all partners will benefit from TRLabs' pre-competitive efforts to develop new technology applications, advancement of knowledge in telecommunications and information technology and training of university students. The consortium has laboratories in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Affiliated institutions include the universities of Calgary, Manitoba, Regina and Saskatchewan....


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Cameco collaborates to convert uranium into animal feedstock Saskatoon's Cameco Corp has entered a two-year demonstration project with the United States Enrichment Corp (USEC), Bethesda MD to develop technology for converting uranium into feedstock and demonstrate its technical and economic feasibility. Cameco will use an enrichment process being developed by USEC known as atomic vapour laser isotope separation (AVLIS) and conduct the work through its fuel services division at Ontario operations. Its refinery at Blind River will produce high-purity uranium trioxide as an intermediate product, while the Port Hope conversion facilities will run tests for the development and demonstration phases of the feedstock production technology. The feasibility of constructing a full-scale facility will be evaluated after two years, considering plant location options and required regulatory approvals. The collaboration helps advance Cameco's integration into the nuclear fuel cycle. Its processing plants currently produce refined uranium trioxide and uranium hexaflouride as feedstock for existing enrichment plants which use gaseous diffusion or gas centrifuge technologies....


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NSERC study shows job benefits of national scholarships Data collected since the mid-1980s show tha more than 90% of former holders of national scholarships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) enjoy full time employment. The finding was contained in a report released last month and the result of several surveys that tracked the career progression of more than 500 postgraduate scholarship winners. Approximately 98% of survey respondents are employed and more than 60% remain active in R&D in the private sectors, universities and government. The rest describe teaching, consulting and management and administration as occupations. The survey concludes that the high employment levels in skilled positions is an indication of the fiscal soundness of federal support for NSERC....


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Alberta harmonizes environmental research units The Alberta Environmental Centre is moving under the umbrella of the Alberta Research Council as part of the province's harmonization efforts to maximize cost-effective environmental research services to government, agencies and the private sector. It moves from Alberta Environmental Protection and will retain its headquarters in Vegreville. The 15-year-old AEC conducts research into air and water quality, waste management, environmental enhancement and pest control. A management committee to coordinate the transition will be headed by Dr Lorne Taylor, chairman of ARC's board of directors....


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PERSONALITIES

Maher Bitar has been appointed manager of Micronet, the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Microelectronic Devices, Circuits and Devices. A former employee of PRISM, a Nortel subsidiary, Bitar gained a BSc in electronics and an MBA from Ohio State Univ. He replaces Zahir Parpia, who joins the Univ of Toronto as its industrial liaison officer....

The Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education (CANARIE) has elected its new board of directors and appointed Glenn Rainbird, president and CEO of TRLabs, as its new chair. Appointed vice-chair is David Black, president and CEO of Silicon Graphics Canada Inc. Among the new members on the board of directors are: Larry Achtemichuk IBM Canada's GM for telecommunications, media and entertainment industries; Mary Dyktstra-Lynch, professor with Dalhousie Univ's School of Library and Information Studies; Thomas Healey, GM and practice director for Andersen Consulting Canada's Infocosm division; Hubert Manseau, VP finance and business development, Centre de recherche informatique de Montral; and John Williams, president and CEO of SmartHealth....

Dr Val O'Donovan, chairman and CEO of ComDev International, has been named chancellor of the Univ of Waterloo for a three-year term effective May 1/97. The Irish-born O'Donovan invented a new type of microwave multiplexer in 1962 and emigrated to Canada the next year, joining RCA's communications division in Montreal. He founded ComDev in 1974, and moved it to Waterloo in 1979 to tap into the talent of area universities. In 1995, the Univ of Waterloo bestowed an honourary engineering doctorate....

Fred Gault has been appointed director of Statistics Canada's Science & Technology Redesign Project which includes new initiatives in S&T and telecommunications. The S&T project funded to the tune of $4.5 million by Industry Canada (R$, November 15/95) will work towards developing useful indicators of activity and a framework to provide a coherent picture of Canadian S&T. The telecommunications project entails the development of telecommunications statistics and related analysis for the Canadian information infrastructure. Gault joined Stats Can in 1984 and most recently was director of its Services, Science and Technology division, which has been divided into a services division and the S&T Redesign Project team. Prior to that, Gault worked at the Univ of Durham where he managed a data compilation and dissemination project and served as a senior lecturer in theoretical physics....

Dr Serge Carrière has been appointed president and COO of Phoenix International Life Sciences Inc; a firm for which he helped raise initial funding in 1989. Carrière held the positions of VP clinical research and senior VP prior to his appointment and was chosen to head the firm after the previously announced candidate withdrew for personal reasons. Carrière held several positions during a 31-year career with the Univ of Montreal, including dean of medicine, and head of the departments of physiology and medicine. While dean, he increased the volume of medical R&D from $40 million to $140 million. During a 20-month hiatus from the university, Carrière was behind the venture capital firm Canadian Medical Research Associates, which helped form Phoenix along with Dr John Hooper. Hooper was chairman, president and CEO of Phoenix until Carrière's appointment and will continue as chairman and CEO responsible for corporate strategy and development. As VP clinical research, he restaffed the firm's Phase II-IV clinical studies and database management groups and was responsible for executing recent mergers. Carrière's new duties include improving profitability and accommodating ongoing growth....


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