Naylor report: what you can do

Canada has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to become a global research powerhouse. Thanks to the report from the Fundamental Science Review panel, we now have a roadmap for how to do it.

This is a pivotal moment for research and innovation in Canada. It is up to us – individually, as universities and as a community – to call for action on Canada’s Fundamental Science Review. You can help.

What can you do?

There are multiple ways you and your community can share the key messages below with Parliamentarians and stakeholders.

  • Request a meeting with your local MP to share these messages and the urgent need for action. If you can’t get a meeting, make a phone call, write a letter, or contact him or her through social media like Twitter and Facebook.
  • Over the summer, go where MPs are (community events, BBQs, etc.) and ask them how they will act on the report’s recommendations for re-investment in research. For example: “How are you planning to respond to the research funding needs outlined in Fundamental Review of Science – and when?”
  • Do the same over social media, and urge your networks to lend their voices.
  • Develop a roster of compelling research stories and use them in speeches and public communications.
  • Write an op ed in your local paper, anchoring your arguments in data and relevant research stories. Encourage others in your community to do the same.
  • Talk to your local university supporters and donors, asking them to share these messages with Parliamentarians and their contacts in federal government.
  • Organize a speech at your local board of trade or chamber of commerce.
  • On Twitter, lend support to these messages using the #supportthereport hashtag, tell compelling research stories using the hashtag #univresearch and make use of our sample social media messages and graphics (below).

Social media kit

Please feel free to share these sample tweets and the accompanying animations.

  1. Funding for fundamental research will drive economic growth, innovation & job creation in Canada. #UnivResearch

    To download, right-click on it and select “Save image as…”
  2. #UnivResearch improves the lives of Canadians & people around the world.

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  3. Canada’s early-career researchers need a healthy research ecosystem & world-class infrastructure to reach their potential. #UnivResearch

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  4. This is Canada’s global moment – seize the opportunity for leadership by investing in university research & innovation. #UnivResearch

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Key messages

1 – Funding for fundamental research is essential to creating economic growth, supporting innovation and creating jobs for middle-class Canadians.

When researchers first embark on a curiosity-driven project, no one knows what the outcomes might be. But curiosity-driven research has been behind some of the most lucrative and life-saving discoveries of the past century including the laser, vaccines and drugs, and the development of radio and television.

In recent years, the federal government has funded priority-driven research at the expense of fundamental research. That is no way to foster innovation. Fundamental research leads to new companies, socially innovative programs and medical technologies: advances that create good middle-class jobs and foster economic growth.

The data:

  • In the last 10 years, federal investment in real per-capita funding for independent or investigator-led research has fallen by 30 percent.
  • Federal support for R&D in higher education makes up less than 25 percent of total spending—making Canada an international outlier.
  • Canadians understand the value of basic research. 85% of Canadians surveyed in 2015 said that governments should invest in basic research – even if it doesn’t lead to immediate economic results.

Recommendations from the Science Review:

  • Increase direct support for investigator-led discovery research by $485 million (over four years).
  • $1.3 billion in new federal spending, scaled over four years, to better support researchers and research infrastructure and to bring support for Canada’s university-based research activities to internationally competitive levels.

2 –  Canadian university research improves the lives of Canadians and people around the world.

Canada is poised for global leadership on some of the most pressing challenges of our time – issues like climate change, food security, refugee resettlement, cybersecurity and the increasing automation of labour. Closer to home, research finds solutions for rural communities facing economic decline and develops better roads and traffic systems for commuters. University research also helps lift Canadians out of poverty, with projects that combat homelessness, addiction and mental illness in some of our most vulnerable populations.

Reinvestment in research and discovery in Canada will boost our capacity to impact lives and address the world’s most urgent needs, both across the globe and in our home communities.

The world is turning to Canada for leadership, and Canada’s universities need to be able to respond with resources in order to pursue international research collaboration at scale.

The data:

  • Canada produces 4% of the world’s scientific publications, with only 1% of the world’s population.
  • Forty-three per cent of scientific papers published by Canadian researchers from 2005–10 were authored with an international collaborator.

Recommendations from the Science Review:

  • Increase direct support for investigator-led discovery research by $485 million (over four years).
  • Dedicated support for international research collaboration, specifically $20 million in targeted support for international research collaboration in the first year of funding.
  • $1.3 billion in new federal spending, scaled over four years, to better support researchers and research infrastructure and to bring support for Canada’s university-based research activities to internationally competitive levels.

3 – Canada’s young researchers include the Nobel Prize winners of tomorrow.

Canada is proud to claim Herzberg Gold Medal winner Victoria Kaspi and Nobel laureates Arthur McDonald and Frederick Banting as our own. But none of them started at the top. They had basic funding support as well as the support of mentors and top-level researchers who inspired and trained them.

Today’s early-career researchers are Canada’s future. They are young, diverse, and full of untapped potential. But they need better opportunities to access their first discovery grant and world-class infrastructure to realize their full potential. Canada cannot afford to lose a generation of top researchers because we don’t properly support them.

State-of-the-art facilities and funding across disciplines will ensure that Canada can produce world-class results, retain and support top young researchers, and keep Canada on the map as a global research powerhouse.

The data:

  • As the Science Review report establishes, inadequate funding for independent research impacts early career researchers the most. Currently, success rates for granting programs are distressingly low due to lack of available funds; SSHRC applications have a success rate of 25%, and CIHR rates are even lower, at 14.7%.
  • Top young researchers are finding it increasingly difficult to secure postdoctoral fellowships. For example, the success rate for NSERC postdoctoral fellowships fell from 35% in 2002 to 10% in 2012.
  • A new report from the Global Young Academy, surveying 1300 Canadian researchers, shows that declining funding for fundamental research resulted in 40% of researchers changing the direction of their research programs. Half of survey respondents believe that these funding changes mean fewer young Canadians will choose research as a career.

Recommendations from the Science Review:

  • Increase direct support for investigator-led discovery research by $485 million (over four years).
  • Stable and predictable base funding of $300 million per year for the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Additionally, $90 million per year for operating and maintenance of infrastructure; $30 million per year for the operating costs of small projects; and $115 million per year to sustain major science initiatives at appropriate levels.
  • $1.3 billion in new federal spending, scaled over four years, to better support researchers and research infrastructure and to bring support for Canada’s university-based research activities to internationally competitive levels.

4 – Canada can be a global magnet for talent and investment.

This is Canada’s global moment. At a time of closing borders and closing minds, Canada’s open society and leadership on global issues sends a powerful message of opportunity. Meanwhile, the uncertainty around possible cuts to science funding in the United States and Brexit’s disruption of the UK and European research community are positioning Canada as a magnet for the world’s most brilliant minds.

A well-funded research and innovation ecosystem will not only attract the best researchers, but will also make Canada a magnet for knowledge-intensive multinational companies. A highly-skilled workforce trained in the latest technologies is essential to attracting foreign investment from the likes of Google, Uber, General Motors, Microsoft and Thomson-Reuters. These companies have all made recent investments in research and development in Canada, creating thousands of new jobs.

If we want to remain a marquee destination of choice for global research talent, Canada needs a healthy and vibrant research system and stable and predictable support for world-class research infrastructure.

The data:

  • Since 2009, GM has invested more than C$3 billion in its manufacturing and engineering operations in Canada. This includes 700 new engineering and software jobs added in 2016.
  • Thomson Reuters recently expanded its Canadian operations with its new Toronto Technology Centre creating 1,500 high-quality jobs, leveraging the Toronto-Waterloo innovation corridor, one of the largest technology clusters in the world, and expanding opportunities for emerging technology talent from Canada’s universities.
  • Canadians support attracting the world’s top talent and investors. In a recent Abacus Data survey, 87% of respondents say Canada should work hard to attract top researchers to our country. Over 80% say we should make real efforts to attract foreign investors from all around the world.

Recommendations from the Science Review:

  • Increase direct support for investigator-led discovery research by $485 million (over four years).
  • Stable and predictable base funding of $300 million per year for the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Additionally, $90 million per year for operating and maintenance of infrastructure; $30 million per year for the operating costs of small projects; and $115 million per year to sustain major science initiatives at appropriate levels.
  • Re-dedication of the Vanier Scholarship and Banting Fellowship programs to international recruitment as their primary objective – while simultaneously expanding doctoral scholarship and post-doctoral fellowship opportunities for Canadians.
  • $1.3 billion in new federal spending, scaled over four years, to better support researchers and research infrastructure and to bring support for Canada’s university-based research activities to internationally competitive levels.
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