Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Thank you for inviting me to appear before you.
I really want to emphasize the importance of your serious engagement with the challenges and opportunities for building a better future based on research and innovation.
In contributing to your work on these challenges in the commercialization of IP, I want to add to your previous discussions that have consistently emphasized the essential role of Canada's universities in leading to the successful commercialization of IP.
Witnesses have repeatedly described how brain circulation from campuses to companies is key. Speakers have highlighted how highly qualified, talented people are the essential precondition for Canadian enterprises to undertake advanced R and D activities.
Witnesses have repeatedly emphasized the importance and extent of research partnerships involving those in the private sector. They have emphasized the number and frequency of campus-supported start-ups, despite the challenges that are faced in moving these efforts from pre-commercial to commercial viability. In other words, there are now increasingly fluid connections between leading research universities and their host societies across the private, public and non-profit sectors. Canada now ranks third among OECD countries in the percentage of all private R and D done in partnership with post-secondary institutions. Indeed, it is hard to find any innovative company in Canada that is not closely connected to at least one university.
One additional suggestion for your report would be to emphasize that while IP is often associated with new technologies, the expression “the commercialization of IP” reflects social, cultural and economic considerations that companies must understand in detail if they are to be successful. For this reason, the connections in Canada between universities and communities now reach across all disciplines.
A second suggestion would be to highlight in your report the efforts that are being made to increase the ease with which information about researchers and their research projects, as well as information about IP, can be accessed by non-specialists.
I want to give the example today of Cognit.ca. It is a new digital tool developed by U15, with multiple sponsors, for anyone who wants to access information about the experts, facilities and intellectual properties related to university research across Canada. This new digital platform harvests the federal research agencies' awards databases, while also including information about current licensing opportunities as well as a listing of patents filed by Canadian post-secondary researchers and institutions and their partners. Please do not hesitate to request more information about this important digital tool, which in fact has been mentioned previously in this committee.
Finally, let me address two recent documents.
This week's federal budget contained no new investments in research funding for universities, as offered by Canada's four research-granting agencies. This is the second consecutive year of frozen research funding.
While governments internationally are fighting inflation, peer countries like the United States, Germany and the U.K. and so on are making game-changing investments in research. Over the next five years, the CHIPS and Science Act in the United States will essentially double the base budget of the National Science Foundation. Along with the Inflation Reduction Act, the ambition is not only to repatriate the semiconductor supply chain or accelerate the transition to the green economy in the Untied States; in addition, these investments will enable American companies, as well as universities, to recruit our best and brightest, the highly qualified, talented graduates of our leading research universities whom Canada needs in order to carry out our own green transition and digital transformation in the changed 21st century economy.
Canada already ranks at the bottom of G7 countries in those with graduate degrees and only 28th among OECD countries in the proportion of our population with graduate degrees. In other words, the Canadian model of university-connected research and innovation is at risk.
At the same time, the potentially good news is the new “Report of the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System”. The report compellingly recommends how an updated structure of governance and program delivery can enhance support for interdisciplinary as well as disciplinary research and for small and large projects, including cross-sectoral partnerships. However, the report emphasizes that if underfunding continues, the future is inevitably bleak. The report makes an urgent call for new federal investments of 10% per year for five years.
Overall, the conclusion is that we must urgently respond to the rapidly increasing international competition that threatens our domestic capacity and national security and thus our prospects for a prosperous, resilient and just society in the 21st century.
Thank you very much.
I look forward to your questions and comments.