By Gary Goodyear
Minister of State
(Science and Technology)
As we conclude another banner year in Canadian scientific and technological advancement, our government continues to lay the groundwork to leveraging the benefits of innovation.
In the coming days, I will travel across the country to consult with industry leaders and academics on how we can better support our science, technology and innovation ecosystem and position Canada to prosper.
We made huge headway in 2012, promoting our country’s researchers and our scientific advancements on the international stage. Our government strengthened three key elements of its S&T strategy: developing and recruiting world-leading research talent, modernizing research infrastructure across the country, and stimulating private-sector innovation.
We are quickly establishing Canada’s leadership in many fields.
Last February, for example, a Canadian team led by the TRIUMF physics lab in Vancouver announced the promising news that they had developed a method of making an important medical isotope in existing cyclotrons – meaning it could be produced without the use of nuclear reactors. In coming years, this advancement will help hospitals save time and money, and reduce patient wait times for diagnostic tests.
A few months later, in April, Canadian scientists were part of a groundbreaking study that revealed 10 distinct types of breast cancer. This discovery promises to make diagnosis more precise and allow more effective treatments.
In June, researchers at the University of Montreal published their development of a new approach to visualize how proteins assemble, which could lead to a better understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It could even have broader implications in biomedical sciences.
In September, researchers at the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing participated in a record-breaking experiment: quantum teleportation over a distance of 143 kilometres—the farthest distance ever achieved. The Institute is part of a global effort to develop a quantum internet, where the exchange of information between computers would be far more secure and efficient than ever before.
Canadian researchers were partners in this year’s great discoveries such as measuring the intrinsic properties of antimatter atoms and identifying the elusive Higgs boson.
Last fall, the National Research Council achieved a major milestone for the aviation industry by flying the first civil jet powered by 100 per cent unblended bio-fuel. This historic flight symbolizes a significant step not only for the aerospace industry but also for the advancement of sustainable sources of renewable energy.
These are just a few of the headline-worthy achievements of Canadian scientists this past year. What they signal is the vital importance of collaboration.
We can take pride in these accomplishments, not only as Canadians, but as members of the global community. Scientific advancement knows no borders; it benefits everyone.
Since 2006, our Government has provided $8 billion in new funding for science, technology and the growth of innovative firms. While we continue our strong investments in basic science, we also believe in the transformative potential of science in the marketplace.
We are focusing on investments that will support researchers and the private sector in designing new products and creating new markets. Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012 provides $1.1 billion in funding to support science in the marketplace and improve business expenditures on research and development (R&D). We are doubling the size of one of our most successful initiatives, the Industrial Research Assistance Program, to significantly enhance support for R&D performed by small and medium-sized companies across the country.
We are redefining the way governments, business and the research community come together to drive economic activity through science.
At a time when innovation is increasingly dependent on collaboration, we are taking a leadership role by providing programs that bring the private and public sectors together, creating a supportive climate for start-ups, and attracting and retaining world-class talent.
Innovation creates jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. In today’s modern economy, our quality of life demands nothing less. These are our goals, and we are confident that we are on the right track.