Thursday, March 29, 2012

Federal Budget & Grad students

Updated: links to responses to budget for research/graduate study added below

The budget was touted for many cuts (and the demise of the penny!), but there are some additional resources for research, when business related, plus small increases for graduate students.

You can see the (more) detailed budget plan section on "Supporting Entrepreneurs, Innovators and World-Class Research"
Or visit the budget main page here, which includes briefs, press releases, the full budget plan, and even a video of the Minister looking really serious (kids in the hall fans may think he is about to crush your head).

The following is the quick version of the funding increases related to university research:

"Support for Research, Education and Training
The Government is committed to providing additional resources to support advanced research at universities and other leading research institutions. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:
  • $37 million annually starting in 2012–13 to the granting councils to enhance their support for industry-academic research partnerships.
  • $60 million for Genome Canada to launch a new applied research competition in the area of human health, and to sustain the Science and Technology Centres until 2014–15.
  • $6.5 million over three years for a research project at McMaster University to evaluate team-based approaches to health care delivery.
  • $17 million over two years to further advance the development of alternatives to existing isotope production technologies.
  • $10 million over two years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research to link Canadians to global research networks.
  • $500 million over five years, starting in 2014–15, to the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support advanced research infrastructure.
  • $40 million over two years to support CANARIE’s operation of Canada’s ultra-high speed research network.
  • $23 million over two years to Natural Resources Canada to enhance satellite data reception capacity."

    [How did McMaster do it? (shakes fist)! Develops theory.]

    There are also some items of particular grad student interest:

    "Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $14 million over two years to double the Industrial Research and Development Internship program.
    The Industrial Research and Development Internship program currently helps 1,000 graduate students undertake hands-on research in innovative Canadian firms each year. This initiative provides host firms with access to cutting-edge research and skills, while providing students with valuable applied research experience in a private sector setting. To double the resources of the Industrial Research and Development Internship program, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $14 million over two years. This new funding will be administered by Mitacs, an advanced research organization with a proven track record of helping businesses solve problems through access to graduate students."


    "This new approach will promote business innovation through improved support for high-growth companies, research collaborations, procurement opportunities, applied research and risk financing. This will provide a solid foundation on which Canada’s globally competitive businesses can build by making the investments in innovation required to create high-value jobs and long-term economic growth. In particular, the Government will:... Support private and public research collaboration through internships for graduate students and funding for business-led research and development.  ..."

 I hope all that extra money means these internships will be paid.

UPDATE: Responses to budget:

CIHR provided some excellent summaries of how reasearch money is shifting (my summary here)

CBC Power Politics longer interview on innovation and the budget (video)

Liberal finance critic, MP Scott Bryson, described the research funding as a "shell game" on CBC's As it happens March 29, 2012. He said funds that once went to innovation in the private sector was being shifted to the public sector, which was being cut, thus leaving the private sector worse served in terms of supporting research. NDP critic also on, doesn't speak to the research funding. Check out the CBC As It Happens budget interviews (before there is 11% less of it).

NDP tried to get a jump start calling for the  National Research Council to be saved the day before the budget was launched.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)  applauded the research funding  and the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies also called the budget a positive development (PDF) but the press release "noted the details are still sketchy".

Meanwhile, the Canadian Association of University Teachers said the budget "compromises research, hinders prosperity", saying tying research to commercial goals will hinder, not help, innovation.

And from the student groups: CASA says thumbs down [pdf], saying it shifts money from granting councils to industry related research, and the CFS love it. Just kidding, they don't like it either.

UBC likes it. So does UVIC, but we have less to say, and refer back to the AUCC statement.

Mixed reaction from the business community according to the Financial Post

A few days pre-budget, the Globe and Mail had some more in depth coverage on how r&d  funding for industry works now, and proposed changes with the budget.

Also of interest:

CCPA alternative federal budget

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