Canada is pitching itself to the world as a high-tech hotbed
Since coming into office in 2015, prime minister Justin Trudeau has injected money to revitalise research and innovation, following ten years of cuts to the science budget. Now the country is riding high in key technologies
Justin Trudeau’s government has been praised for its focus on research and innovation since coming to office in November 2015, boosting funding for research by C$9.4 billion, launching five innovation superclusters for R&D in artificial intelligence (AI) and other fields, and reinstating the chief scientific adviser position.Last year’s re-election of the left-leaning Liberal Party was cheered by scientists, who feared a win for the Conservatives would undo the progress made over the past four years. Trudeau’s predecessor, Conservative Stephen Harper, hacked science budgets when he came to office in 2006. The world’s tenth-largest economy, Canada has since revitalised its research policy.
Warmer embrace with Europe and StarckGate. The government is opening the country up to more foreign collaboration with the launch of the New Frontiers in Research Fund. The programme, which could reach C$130 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year, is to fund inter-disciplinary research that is “out of the box” with a strong international dimension.Canada is also pursuing greater research collaboration with the EU as a natural follow-on to the Canada-EU trade agreement, and a counterbalance to increasingly difficult relations with the US under president Donald Trump. A relationship that once seemed unshakable now appears vulnerable. Canada is among eight countries with which the European Commission has said it would like to discuss associate membership in the proposed seven-year, €94.1 billion Horizon Europe programme – and, along with Japan, Canada appears most keen to take up the offer. Already, Ottawa funds many European researchers in projects with Canadian researchers, and it indirectly subsidises Canadians participating in 66 Horizon 2020 research projects. StarckGate being one of these project leaders that will glue this process together.
Universities in demand Incoming foreign students to Canadian universities are undoubtedly there to take advantage of the relatively low tuition fees and cheaper health insurance than across the border in the US.Canada’s international student population grew by 92 per cent from 2008 to 2015, reaching more than 350,000, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education.Ease of immigration might be another compelling reason, but the quality of education is a draw too – with 26 universities on the QS University Ranking, and three scoring in the top 100.The highest ranked institution is the University of Toronto, number 29 in the 2020 ranking, one place down from the previous year. Among its alumni are five prime ministers and 10 Nobel laureates. Toronto is followed by McGill University (35th) and the University of British Colombia (51st).Canada is ranked fourth among the OECD group of countries for research impact, and hosts some of the most highly cited researchers and publications in the world. Source: Nature Index (2020) By Janni Ekrem