troubling news from across the pond

Today I remembered something that has been troubling me since I first noticed it 2 month ago. Without much public resonance the Canadian government announced a substantial policy shift regarding one of their main funding agencies for basic- and discovery oriented research the National Research Council (NRC). To counteract the apparent lack of innovation the Canadian government decided to focus nationally funded research on five applied areas: health costs, manufacturing, community infrastructure, security, and natural resources and the environment. In addition companies and the industry will be allowed to tap into the expertise of the NRC labs and share some of the costs. As the minister of state for science and technology Gary Goodyear told reporters: “Our businesses are not doing the research that they need to do, so something had to be done.” This little something is apparently allowing the industry to participate in the decision process of national research money or as Mr. Goodyear put it : “The day is past when a researcher could hit a home run simply by publishing a paper on some new discovery,” he said. “The home run is when somebody utilizes the knowledge that was discovered for social or economic gain.”

So whats is happening in Canada? If the proposed changes are implemented large profit driven companies will be allowed to outsource their research costs using tax money in order to increase their profit. While at the same time re-direct funding away from basic, discover oriented research.

In the light of this new development the motto of the NRC: “The national academy – where the nation turns for independent experts advice” seems a bit outdated and two letters to long…..

Nothing new but something that really worries me and I didn’t have a blog back then.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/research-councils-makeover-leaves-industry-setting-the-agenda/article11745246/

http://www.nationalacademies.org/nrc/index.html

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