research and innovation in canada, natural sciences
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Here, we examine the role of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in promoting and supporting research and innovation

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) sets out to “to make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians”. To introduce their work, NSERC promotes and supports discovery research, facilitates innovation by encouraging Canadian organisations to invest in and take part in post secondary research projects and supports students in advanced studies. Researchers at NSERC are on, “the vanguard of science” and perhaps in a way, they are continuing the country’s long tradition of building on scientific excellence. (1)

Investing in climate change research

This article will focus on how climate change is being supported in Canada. In a recent press release from NSERC, we learn that according to science, climate change is real today. Investing in science is a win-win situation because it really supports the researchers who make the discoveries required to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts. Certainly, the people of Canada expect the government to make decisions with a firm grounding of scientific evidence. As such, Canada will keep supporting cutting-edge science to help protect future generations. In July 2019, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced $4.7 million for nine climate change research projects.

These projects are important as they will further human knowledge of the role forests play, improve our understanding of how carbon interacts with our wetlands, forests and oceans, and accelerate innovation in energy-efficient cooling technologies.

These projects are funded by the Advancing Climate Change Science in Canada initiative, a collaboration of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC). The projects will increase the available scientific information so that government decision-making on climate action is well-supported.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change said:

“Science clearly shows us the causes of climate change, and our government is supporting the scientists who we know will show us the solutions. Working with scientists and academics will help us keep pushing forward in the fight against climate change.

“By coming together and working collaboratively, we can ensure a safer, healthier, more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.”

Dr Marc Fortin, Vice-President, Research Partnerships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada added:

“Congratulations to all recipients. This initiative is an excellent example of NSERC’s commitment to working with other government partners to achieve research outcomes that generate benefits for Canada.

“This important investment supports research that will address the complex and interdisciplinary nature of climate change science for a more prosperous future for all Canadians.” (2)

Support for skills and training

Let’s finish by casting our minds back to the start of this article which included the aim of NSERC to supports students in advanced studies. In July 2019, we find out that the Government of Canada is investing in projects to get students job-ready for careers in research. Certainly, the government understands that by giving researchers the chance to learn and grow, the future of the economy and the next generation of innovators are being invested in.

An investment of $29.6 million through the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) was announced in July 2019. We know that this will permit 18 research teams of students and post-doctoral fellows to apply new knowledge to develop the skills required to help them in their future careers. Also, we know that the CREATE grants very usefully support research teams across Canada working in a wealth of areas such as blockchain technology, cybersecurity, soil science and industrial engineering.

On this, Danika Goosney, NSERC Vice President, Research Grants and Scholarships said: “CREATE supports outstanding mentoring and skills training opportunities for students, complementing their science and engineering research training. The result is a cohort of early-career scientists and engineers with a greater potential to become tomorrow’s dynamic leaders.”

This and the other areas explored in this article are just a part of the wider work of the NSERC, who invests over $1.2 billion annually in Canada’s natural sciences and engineering research. Long may these worthy investments continue to deliver research discoveries and enable partnerships and collaborations. (3)





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