Budget provides funding renewal for several key research organizations canada foundation for innovation ($510M)

Guest Contributor
March 26, 2007

Federal Budget

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has received $510 million to mount another major competition by 2010 but the details on its timing and focus are undetermined. Budget documents indicate that CFI will no longer be financed with lump sums from year-end funding. Instead, an initial $70 million will be allocated in FY08-09 with the remainder disbursed as required to institutions that are approved for funding.

"Our mandate has not changed but it's too early to say which programs are funded and the amount for each ... The allocation of $510 million is what's important," says Dr Eliot Phillipson, CFI's president and CEO. "We have advanced a number of ideas that could be in the S&T Framework and depending on the uptake of those ideas, funds could go in those areas."

CFI has previously indicated that it would consider playing a role in the commercialization of research, funding infrastructure for early-stage and pre-commercialization projects (R$, December 11/06).

The results of the CFI's last major competition were announced last fall and it typically runs a major competition every two years. Phillipson says CFI will consult with Industry Canada and academic institutions before any decisions are made.

Genome Canada ($100M)

Genome Canada has received $100 million to sustain operations while it consults with the scientific community on future priorities. The year-end funding is allocated towards the six regional genome centres and their respective technology platforms, as well as Canadian participation in ongoing international collaborative projects.

"The $100 million is already committed. This is not for new initiatives (but) to take care of past business," says Dr Martin Godbout, Genome Canada's president and CEO. "We're now asking the scientific community which sectors they would like to have funding for and tell us why they should receive it."

To determine areas where Canada can best take advantage of future genomics and proteomics funding, Genome Canada has instituted a unique bottom-up approach to assist the government in making decisions. At its request, members of the scientific community have assembled 11 teams to develop position papers on specific areas of genomic and proteomic research.

Once those papers are submitted this July, they will be subject to international peer review and ranking. A prioritized list of areas for future funding will be forwarded to Industry Canada for consideration in the next federal Budget. Godbout says anywhere from two-to-five areas could be funded, depending on the decision of the government.

"With this Budget, genomics and proteomics research has received (a total of) $700 million in federal funding and we have also raised an additional $840 million from other sources. That's very significant," says Godbout. "The government and the public are entitled to ask what we have done with that money. It is saying, ‘If you want to move forward, tell us why.' Genome Canada is the middleman between what the scientists would like to do and what the government wants to invest in."


CANARIE moved quickly with a request for proposals (RFP) to permit the uninterrupted continuation of its high-speed research network, following the Budget announcement renewing the agency's funding to the tune of $120 million over five years. The announcement comes just days before the end of CANARIE's current five-year, $110-million funding agreement, while contracts with network services providers underpinning the CAnet 4 network are due to expire in June.

CANARIE plans to update and enhance CAnet 4, building on technologies introduced over the past few years. It has been a world leader in the development and deployment of user controlled lightpaths (UCLP) and the deployment of a new generation of optical equipment called Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexing (ROADM).

"This is very good news for us and the research community … We will focus more on advanced networking technologies and the continued evolution of the network," says CANARIE president and CEO, Dr Andrew Bjerring, adding that the new funding agreement does not allow for a revival of applications funding programs that expired in 2004 (i.e.: e-health, e-business).

Under the new funding agreement, CANARIE will receive $24 million or one fifth of its new allocation in FY07-08, and will draw upon the remainder on an as-needed basis. There are also plans to rename the network. Although it is referred to as CAnet 5 in Budget documents, both the organization and CAnet now will be called The CANARIE Network. The new single branding will be rolled out in the coming months.

SDTC funding boosted by $500M

Budget measures to combat climate change and encourage clean renewable energy sources contained two R&D funding initiatives. Sustainable Development Canada (SDTC) received $500 million over seven years to support the creation of large-scale facilities that produce renewable fuels from agricultural and wood waste. It will receive $200 million in FY07-08, $25 million in FY08-09 and the remainder over the next five years.

Budget documents also referred to Ottawa-based Iogen Corp as the world's only company operating a demonstration scale plan converting biomass to ethanol. Iogen is currently considering three locations, including Canada, to build a $475-million commercial-scale facility with its partner, Shell Canada. It has filed an application with SDTC for assistance in building the facility in Prince Albert SK but has also received attractive offers from the US Department of Energy and European interests.

The Budget also included $39 million over two years for fisheries science and research. The funding will go to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to study Canada's fisheries and their ecosystems.

no change to SR&ED

The Budget did not contain any changes to the Scientific Research and Development Research (SR&ED) tax incentive program, despite massive industry pressure to change the legislation allowing for full refundability and access by foreign-based firms. The Budget only reiterated a Conservative election pledge to "identify opportunities to improve the SR&ED program, including its administration". The program is estimated to cost the government $3.3 billion in foregone revenues in 2007, according to the latest Finance Canada data.


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