RE$EARCH MONEY: A journalistic magic carpet ride like no other

Mark Henderson
August 23, 2017

Over the past 25 years, Canada has matured from a relatively minor research player to a globally competitive engine of new knowledge and commercially promising ideas. During the same period, its tech sector has taken a beating by the forces of globalization.

As the editor of RE$EARCH MONEY, I’ve had a front-row seat to this confluence of seemingly contradictory forces. Most rewarding has been the opportunity to speak with many visionary innovation leaders (as well as a few that were less so), relaying their ideas, concepts and initiatives to the RE$EARCH MONEY community.

It’s been a remarkable run. But after 23 years, I will be stepping down as the fulltime editor of RE$EARCH MONEY. The decision to leave such a challenging yet rewarding role has not been an easy one.

Being able to explore (and benefit from) the remarkable advances in information and communications technology and Canada’s participation in the emerging new fields of knowledge, from genomics to artificial intelligence, has been immensely satisfying. The job of reporter and editor has evolved more than I could have imagined, with computing power and the Internet enhancing my ability to gather and disseminate knowledge and information.

Living through and reporting on the peaks and valleys of government support for science, technology and innovation (STI) has also been amazing to experience. Since 1994 when I took over the editor’s position from Vincent Wright, I’ve witnessed dramatic cuts to STI followed by massive reinvestment during the Chretien and Martin eras. The gains that resurgence in funding and policy making facilitated were strained to the near-breaking point by the ill-informed policies of the Harper governments, weakening Canada’s vibrant tech sectors and triggering an unprecedented brain drain.

We’re now two years into the inspirational rhetoric of the Trudeau administration and nervously waiting to see whether the laudable concepts of evidence-informed decision making, inclusion and diversity will be translated into inspired policy and intelligently targeted funding that at least matches the OECD average.

Also fascinating to observe is Canada’s reaction to the authoritarian forces dominating the White House and threatening the democracies of Europe and elsewhere. Progressive voices are needed now more than ever and I’ve tried to meaningfully (and constructively) contribute to a dialogue upon which the future of our planet depends.

I won’t deny that writing and publishing nearly 3,000 articles (and even more briefs) on Canadian STI has been challenging, albeit extremely rewarding work. After nearly a quarter century, I certainly won’t miss the long hours of two-finger tapping at a keyboard. As the body clock moves inexorably forward, it’s time to focus on family, health, happiness and longevity.  That means jumping on the road bike, hitting the gym and strapping on the skates to cruise up and down the Rideau Canal. And movies, a lot more movies, to satiate my lifelong love of cinema from around the globe.

Publishing 20 times a year (now weekly as RE$EARCH MONEY shifts to a more frequent on-line delivery regimen) can be a grind. But it has been my good fortune over the years to work with the likes of Jeff Crelinsten, Ron Freedman, Rebecca Melville, the late Gordon Hutchison and many others to enliven the work routine with informed conversation, shared goals and collegiality. And of course there’s Debbie Lawes, my treasured partner in life and in journalism, who has shared this journey with me every step of the way. To all I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation.

Thanks also go out to those technically outside the RE$EARCH MONEY family who have helped to inform my work and make me look much smarter than I can claim to be — Paul Dufour, Marc LePage, the late John de la Mothe, the late David Strangway, Natalie Dakers and too many others to mention.

While I am stepping down as fulltime editor, I’m happy to say that I will continue to be engaged, writing for RE$EARCH MONEY and others in the innovation ecosystem.

It’s been a blast.

Mark Henderson

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