Speech Article from  Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Archived - Announcement of Government of Canada Support for Discovery Research and NSERC Grants and Scholarships

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Speaking Points

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, PC, MP
Minister of State (Science and Technology)

Ottawa, Ontario

May 21, 2013

Check Against Delivery

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Before I begin I would like to thank the following people for joining me today:

  • Isabelle Blain from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC);
  • Ted Hewitt from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada;
  • Pierre Meulien from Genome Canada;
  • Pierre Normand from the Canada Foundation for Innovation; and
  • Robert Thirsk from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

It is under their leadership that our science-based institutions are making a significant difference not only in the lives of all Canadians but also to the international community.

Ladies and gentlemen, in today's global knowledge economy a country's research capacity is critical to its ability to grow, create jobs and prosper over the long term.

And so it is no surprise that our government has been a strong supporter of Canadian science and technology (S&T) since coming to office.

Starting with Budget 2006 through to Economic Action Plan 2013, we have invested more than $9 billion to support S&T and the growth of innovative firms.

Even during the worst of the recession—when fiscal restraint was required and other nations were making deep cuts in many important sectors—we chose to maintain science, technology and innovation as funding priorities.

Those investments are paying dividends. They are helping to make our universities and colleges world-class sources of knowledge and to position Canada as a leader among G7 countries in higher-education research and development spending intensity.

From the Canada Research Chairs to the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships to the Canada Foundation for Innovation-funded Major Science Initiatives, our government supports programs that are focused on both basic and applied research and that are instrumental to Canada's S&T enterprise.

I am pleased to note that, in the last year alone, our scientists were partners in some of the world's great discoveries:

  • identifying the elusive Higgs boson;
  • developing a tool that analyzes MRI scans to detect patterns of brain atrophy characteristic of Alzheimer's disease; and
  • achieving record-breaking quantum teleportation (for all you Trekkies).

Today, our government is building on that legacy with more funding to support discovery-driven basic research in Canada.

NSERC's Discovery Grants Program is one of Canada's largest sources of funding for basic research, providing researchers with the freedom and flexibility to pursue their most promising ideas.

These grants encourage curiosity, creativity and new contributions to the world's stock of knowledge. And by supporting our brightest minds, we are empowering them to excel in advanced fields and are encouraging the next generation of science and engineering talent to push the frontiers of research.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I'm happy to announce awards totalling more than $400 million over the next five years.

This year's funding will support more than 3,800 researchers across the country in advancing their ongoing work.

Of this funding, $15 million is being provided for another key program—the Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program.

This initiative assists researchers who propose to explore potentially transformative concepts in their research areas. This year, 125 researchers will each receive an additional $120,000 over three years to pursue their work.

As well, nearly $70 million of the funding announced today will support NSERC's Postgraduate Scholarships and Postdoctoral Fellowships programs as well as its share of the Canada Graduate Scholarships Program.

This funding will allow researchers to focus exclusively on their studies and collaborate with the best mentors in their fields on innovative research projects.

So clearly, discovery-driven research is taking a big step forward today thanks to NSERC. I know Isabelle will have more to say about this in a few minutes.

But a high-performing innovation ecosystem goes beyond basic research. It is a continuum that includes the full spectrum of activity from fundamental basic research to innovation and the commercialization of discoveries.

As the Prime Minister has said, science powers commerce. But commerce also powers science. Basic research gives way to the innovations that enter the market and produce economic growth. And from economic growth comes the ability to invest in basic research—the classic virtuous circle.

It is through increased innovation and the commercialization of discoveries that Canada's productivity growth and global competitiveness will be secured.

But we've known for some time that more needed to be done on the innovation side of the equation.

That's why we are taking a new approach—one that complements existing basic research initiatives with more commercially focused, business-led ones.

Through Economic Action Plan 2013, we are improving the linkages between public research and private sector needs through programs that help companies partner with universities and colleges. And we are focusing on the conditions necessary for a healthy innovation system: supportive marketplace frameworks, engaged citizens, highly skilled people and sound infrastructure.

We are continuing to invest in basic science, just as we have in every single budget.

We are focused on the economy. Because without a robust economy, we would not have the means necessary to invest in fundamentals like higher education, health care and the social safety net needed for the most vulnerable in our society—to say nothing of our ability to invest in basic research.

In wrapping up, I would like to congratulate the recipients of NSERC's Discovery Grants and wish them the best in their future projects.

Providing these talented Canadians with the means to pursue groundbreaking research is a sound investment in our future prosperity.

Our increased support for business-focused research together with the important investments in basic research like those we are celebrating here today are ensuring that Canada's education, health and social systems will be there for all of us tomorrow.

Thank you.

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