The Honourable Gary Goodyear, PC, MP
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
May 7, 2013
Check Against Delivery
Thank you. Welcome, everyone!
Ladies and gentlemen, we invest in science and technology for two reasons: to create knowledge and to exploit that knowledge for social and economic gain. Unfortunately, all too often the knowledge gained is opportunity lost.
The NRC, first created to support Canadian industry, played a major role during the post-war period and into the 1960s. Key accomplishments during this period included the invention of the pacemaker (1940s), the development of canola (1950s), the black box (1960s) and the cesium beam atomic clock (1960s).
The NRC continued to offer world-class research in support of industry throughout the 1970s and 1980s. But the NRC's structure, with each of its institutes independently pursuing its own interests and activities, was not effectively supporting, nor responding to, the shifting demands and needs of industry. There was both the need and the opportunity to focus, reorganize and realign the NRC's national assets to more strategically support innovation in Canada.
Today, the NRC embarks on an exciting, new journey—a redirection that will strengthen Canada's research and innovation ecosystem for many years to come. And this refocused NRC, with a business-led innovation mission, is pivotal to the future of Canadian jobs, economic growth and our long-term prosperity.
As many of you know, a few years ago we asked OpenText Chairman Tom Jenkins to lead an expert panel to review federal support for Canadian R&D. We asked the panel to review existing policies and recommend new ways to help kick-start business investment in R&D.
After consultations and extensive study, the panel returned with concrete recommendations—one of which was to expand the NRC's very successful Industrial Research Assistance Program, or IRAP.
Year after year, IRAP has demonstrated a tremendous return on investment—helping Canadian companies across the country grow and get their products to market.
Our government responded quickly to double IRAP funding to companies—setting the conditions for even more success.
As part of this year's Economic Action Plan, we went further. Economic Action Plan 2013 provides $121 million over two years to support the NRC's new mandate and to aid in its transformation to a business-driven, industry-relevant research and technology organization.
Ladies and gentlemen, today we are here to celebrate the next step in the NRC's long history as Canada's leading scientific R&D organization.
The NRC began in 1916 as a small advisory body to government to support R&D policy, but it quickly became a driver for commercial innovation in the early 1930s with the construction of new labs here in Ottawa.
With today's announcement, the NRC is returning to these historic roots by renewing its focus on industrial research, new growth and business development.
Essentially, the realities of the 21st century economy mean that if Canada is going to continue to compete internationally, we must do it through developing new ideas and new products and opening new markets—in other words, through innovation.
And by helping Canadian businesses develop and bring technically advanced products to market, the NRC is supporting the creation of not just jobs but good-quality, high-paying, long-lasting jobs. The kinds of jobs that maintain our quality of life.
And yet, despite government incentives to innovate, our level of private sector investment in R&D has lagged for some time now.
This is where the refocused NRC will play an important role. The NRC will now focus on the identified research needs of Canadian businesses. The refocused NRC will support Canadian business by becoming a research and technology organization, similar to Germany's very successful Fraunhofer Institute—Europe's largest application-oriented research organization—which undertakes applied research of direct benefit to private and public enterprise and to society.
Canadian businesses in need of support to bring their ideas to market can now access the specialized technical services, extensive scientific expertise and unique infrastructure through the NRC's centres that are located in every province across the country.
An example of the success of the NRC's commercial innovation is its collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Canadian universities to develop canola in the 1950s. Canola is now Canada's most valuable crop and contributes $15.4 billion to the Canadian economy each year. Over 50,000 farmers grow canola in Canada, and approximately 85 percent of the canola grown is sold to markets around the world bringing billions of dollars into Canada. This is a true Canadian success story.
Whether you are a large aerospace company with a new innovative idea or a small manufacturing company looking to improve the efficiency of your production line, the NRC will have the tools you need to innovate and grow your business.
The NRC is open for business. We are here to support Canadian industries in need of research support. We encourage any business—small, medium or large—to contact the NRC. You have a partner in the NRC.
As a key partner for business, the NRC's success will be the success of its clients and partners.
Ladies and gentlemen, throughout its history, the NRC has played a central role at the heart of Canada's innovation system. Today's announcement builds on this history. The NRC has now become an organization that is easier for business to understand and access.
It has rebuilt itself to help grow Canadian industries and increase our strength in global value chains, with clear goals in mind:
We look forward to building a better future together.
This is the kind of progress that we can all celebrate. And I look forward to seeing first-hand the great work that will result. The NRC has been helping advance Canadian science for almost 100 years. Today's announcement will ensure that the next 100 years are even more successful.