Genome Canada funding will trigger another competition for large-scale projects

Guest Contributor
March 31, 2003

Budget 2003

Last month’s federal Budget announcement of an additional $75 million in funding for Genome Canada is being viewed as a vote of confidence in an organization that is only beginning to show tangible results. The new money also acknowledges that while the arm’s length agency is spending the government’s initial $300-million allotment more quickly than anticipated, another competition for large-scale projects is required to keep Canada internationally competitive.

Details on the new funding are currently being finalized with the central agencies and it’s anticipated another competition will be held later this year. But Genome Canada officials say they won’t know the details until those negotiations are complete.

“There are no specific directives yet. We are now negotiating with government on instructions and directives,” says Marc Lepage, Genome Canada’s executive VP corporate development. “We can’t go at this in small incremental steps. This investment shows the government shares this view.”

Genome Canada funding has come in year end investments of $160 million and $140 million in 2000 and 2001 respectively (R$, March 17/00 & March 5/01). That money was supposed to last the organization five years, but the rapid pace of research internationally and impressive investments by other nations has resulted in an accelerated burn rate.

To date, Genome Canada has committed $293 million to 56 projects chosen from two competitions, generating an equal amount in matching funds from the provinces and private sector sources.

“We’ve kept our eye on our overarching objective to become a world leader and have moved aggressively. There has been a faster pace of spending than we thought a few years ago,” says Lepage. “The government should be lauded for accepting the idea of not just keeping up but leading and putting the financial means behind it.”

In additional to establishing and funding five regional genome centres, Genome Canada has been extremely active on the international front. In recent months, it has signed several agreements with other nations and helped prepare a national education project — Putting the Geee! in Genome. The exhibition runs at Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Nature from April 25 to September 1.


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