It was difficult to find any skeptics or detractors among those who assembled in Montreal earlier this week to participate in the third summit of the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership (CCSIP). It's little wonder. A lot of hard work and tenacity has gone into moving the yardsticks on this remarkable venture. It's now getting to the point where researchers, S&T managers and (hopefully) politicians in both jurisdictions are gearing up to generate tangible results.
The financial crisis that is gripping North America and the world may have provided a sobering backdrop to the summit. But it did little to dampen enthusiasm, particularly of the US delegates, many of whom are allowing themselves to contemplate the prospect of a science-friendly Obama administration.
CCSIP has come a long way since the initial meetings and summits of 2005 and 2006. After nearly slipping off the radar, it was revived with the spectacular success last year of the Cancer Stem Cell Network and a high-profile Canadian visit by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Ontario government must also be credited for stepping up with an initial investment of $30 million, followed by $60 million from federal sources.
To replicate that success, however, it's becoming increasingly clear that stable, dedicated funding from Ottawa is required. The current government has maintained S&T domestically and has even created new programs to assist in commercialization and skills development. But a bold gesture in the international arena would give it far more authority within the S&T community than it currently enjoys.