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New $1.5B research fund unveiled in new federal budget


Ottawa, ON – Canada’s federal government announced its 2014 budget this week, along with plans for an ambitious new funding program called the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The new fund will be administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council on behalf of all the granting councils, and will be funded with a planned $1.5 billion over ten years.

The government wants the fund to further Canada’s ability to attract top research talent, innovators and enterprises, and will make $50 million in funding available in 2015-16, $100 million in 2016-17, $150 million in 2017-18, and $200 million annually in 2018-19 and beyond.

Further details are to be made available later this year.

The announcement of this new research fund was met with applause from Canadian universities:

“This is a pivotal moment for research excellence and innovation in Canada,” says David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba and chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “The establishment of an ambitious new research excellence fund, coupled with the commitment of enhanced funding in discovery research through the federal granting councils, represent a catalytic investment. This shows that the government is taking a strategic approach to creating prosperity in Canada, and recognizes that a vibrant, innovative and competitive Canadian economy needs a world-class research system.”

The 2014 budget includes other considerations for research and development. An additional $46 million per year for the granting councils is included, starting in 2014-15 and on an ongoing basis. The new resources are allocated as follows:

  • $15 million per year to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, for the expansion of the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, the creation of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging and other health research priorities.
  • $15 million per year to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, to support advanced research in the natural sciences and engineering.
  • $7 million per year for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, to support advanced research in the social sciences and humanities.
  • $9 million per year for the Indirect Costs Program.

These measures will augment the granting councils’ current combined base budgets of about $2.7 billion per year.

Other measures include:

  • ·        $8 million over two years to Mitacs to expand its support for industrial research and training of postdoctoral fellows;
  • $222 million over five years, starting in 2015-16, to the TRIUMF physics laboratory to support the facility’s world-leading research and international partnership activities;
  • ·        $117 million over two years for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to maintain safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories, ensure a secure supply of medical isotopes and prepare for the expected transition of the laboratories to a government-owned, contractor-operated model;
  • $15 million over three years, starting in 2014-15, to support the University of Waterloo-based Institute for Quantum Computing’s strategic plan to carry out and commercialize leading-edge research in quantum technologies; and
  • ·        $500 million over two years to the Automotive Innovation Fund, to support significant new strategic research and development projects and long-term investments in the Canadian automotive sector.

“Canada is signalling to the leading research nations of the world that it intends to compete with the best in terms of support for research excellence and attracting top innovators to our universities,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president. “This new strategy recognizes that research excellence takes place at universities of all sizes and in all regions of the country; the benefits will be shared by communities, students and faculty across Canada.”