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Media release - June 20, 2014

OTTAWA – Business incubators and accelerators at a number of Canadian universities are poised to expand their reach after being selected for increased funding through the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP). Today Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the organizations chosen to advance in the selection process for $100 million in new funding at Communitech, Waterloo Region’s hub for the commercialization of innovative technologies.

“We are pleased to see this significant investment in university business accelerators and incubators and to see this element of Canada’s Economic Action Plan advanced,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “Canada’s universities are vital partners in building prosperity through entrepreneurship. AUCC has advocated for investment in such collaborative approaches to nurturing entrepreneurship and bringing fresh new ideas to market faster.” Mr. Davidson joined the Prime Minister and Minister of State for Science and Technology Ed Holder in Waterloo for the announcement.

In 2013, the government allocated $60 million over five years, with an additional $40 million in 2014, to help outstanding incubator and accelerator organizations expand their services to deserving entrepreneurs.

Universities across Canada play a leading role in fostering entrepreneurial success. In addition to operating top incubators and accelerators, 45 universities have developed entrepreneurship degree programs and provide workshops, facilities, mentoring and other supports to students and researchers to help them commercialize product and service ideas. University students are building careers and their innovative ideas are creating jobs in the industries of tomorrow.

AUCC is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges.

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Media Contact:

Helen Murphy
assistant director of communications
hmurphy@aucc.ca
613 563-3961 ext. 238 or cell: 613 608-8749

Media release - March 18, 2014

OTTAWA – Canada’s universities applaud the launch of a federal program that will improve small- and medium-sized enterprises’ access to cutting-edge research and innovation.

The Business Innovation Access Program, announced today by the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology,) provides innovative SMEs with straightforward, upfront funding through the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program that will help pay for research, technology and business development services at universities, colleges and other research institutions of their choice.

“Innovative initiatives like the Business Innovation Access Program will help turn the R&D knowledge of university researchers into improved products, goods and services,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

“Business already counts on Canada’s universities for more than $1 billion in research every year,” adds Mr. Davidson. “This mechanism will boost university-industry links even further, as more small- and medium-sized business owners will be able to put the expertise of universities to work leading to the creation of new jobs, improved products and greater prosperity.”

The Business Innovation Access Program is consistent with a recommendation made by AUCC to the 2011 Independent Panel on Federal Support to Research and Development, which was chaired by Open Text chairman and chief strategy officer Tom Jenkins and included David Naylor, former president of the University of Toronto and Arvind Gupta, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs and recently named as president of the University of British Columbia beginning July 1, 2014.

Announced in Budget 2013, the two-year, $20 million program will enable hundreds of SMEs to use the skills, talents and knowledge of Canada’s universities to help commercialize their products or services more quickly and effectively. These companies frequently lack the resources to conduct their own research, employ recent graduates or take on student interns who would drive productivity gains.

AUCC is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges.

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Media Contact:

Nadine Robitaille
Communications officer, AUCC
613-563-3961 x 306
nrobitaille@aucc.ca

Commentary - February 24, 2014

This op-ed was published in Research Money on February 24, 2014

By Paul Davidson
President, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Budget 2014 sent up a flare to the world: we are on our way with a bold new research and innovation initiative that will advance Canada internationally. To the community within our borders, it signals a new narrative, one that focusses on opportunity.

The newly-announced Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), coupled with the largest support of the country’s research granting councils in nearly a decade, represents a catalytic investment.

First, the budget recognizes the nature of research. Government budgets traditionally have projected no more than two years forward. This commitment of $1.5-billion over 10 years to the research excellence fund — and enhanced ongoing funding for the granting councils and indirect costs of research provides certainty, sustainability and predictability. Planning well into the future is now a possibility, allowing for a continuum of discovery, building on previous or soon-to-come knowledge.

The CFREF also recognizes that research excellence takes place at universities of all sizes and in all regions of the country. University presidents called for an open, competitive and peer-reviewed program. This initiative will reflect that. So any university can compete, no matter its size or location. What will matter is the level of excellence, knowledge and talent being brought to the research and innovation table. The benefits will be shared by faculty, students and communities across Canada.

And on a third level, the research excellence fund speaks to the importance of international collaboration. It acknowledges that a world-class research system is a critical element of a vibrant, innovative and competitive economy. We can compete. But in today’s global village, collaboration is what moves us forward. As we bring up our game, we can look forward to a continued building and leveraging of global partnerships that are already under way.

The newest generation of Canadian university faculty members has laid the groundwork. They have studied abroad and are connected with colleagues around the world. They think in global terms. They are twice as likely as researchers elsewhere to produce jointly-authored international work, which makes them among the most collaborative in the world. In fact, top-cited international researchers recognize their Canadian peers as leaders in terms of the originality, impact and rigour in their field of research.

The new fund will allow Canada to continue expanding that. We know the opportunities are there. Last year, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and the Association of University Heads, Israel agreed to collaborate to promote the internationalization of higher education and to work towards increased research links with Israeli universities.

International outreach

An unprecedented AUCC-led mission of university presidents to Brazil—a nation spurring prosperity by investing heavily in research and innovation—resulted in more than 75 new university partnerships and scholarship programs. A similar AUCC-led mission of presidents to India in November 2010 raised Canada’s higher education profile in that country, and forged connections that continue to enhance academic and research collaboration.

Those connections are being further deepened during Governor General David Johnson’s current state visit to India. I will be accompanying the Governor General as we visit universities, talk to innovators and entrepreneurs, and discuss how best to address global challenges during an innovation roundtable in New Delhi.

Canada was early out of the gate in establishing international linkages, and our universities are building on these. Canada protected investments in research during the economic downturn. Our universities have been able to stem the historical brain drain and attract outstanding faculty, undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. New investments will allow us to pick up speed and hold on to our advantage.

As this program rolls out, universities will have the resources to build their performance in key areas: global excellence, talent and knowledge translation. Funding from the CFREF will build Canada’s reputation as a destination and a home for innovators, research talent and cutting-edge discovery. Universities receiving support will have the flexibility and nimbleness they’ll need to respond quickly to dramatic advancements or valuable partnerships in select areas. The potential for clusters of research excellence in concentrated fields is tremendous.

This new investment goes beyond spurring academic successes. The research excellence fund will heighten Canada’s capacity to attract and retain the best talent from Canada and around the world to remedy emerging shortages of highly skilled labour. We’ll be better able to stimulate the rate of ground-breaking discoveries. We’ll see increased opportunities to establish Canadian universities as preferred partners for the best international research institutions. Universities will also be able to enhance their efforts to reach out to businesses that are ready to adapt and exploit discoveries. And that will help Canadian businesses become more globally competitive.

Our universities are making those connections. They already conduct nearly $1-billion of research funded by the private sector in Canada each year, providing the “intellectual raw material” that drives innovation and builds prosperity.

An even larger share of research, more than $1-billion, is conducted by universities with funding from community and non-profit groups, particularly in the area of health. With secure, reliable and predictable support behind them, just imagine what they can achieve.

We all benefit from the results, and so for Canada, this is a pivotal moment.

We couldn’t be more ready for this bold investment. Half of the faculty members working at Canadian universities have been hired in the last decade. Together with more senior colleagues, they are making large contributions and are ready to do more. We’ve also seen dramatic growth in the number of graduate students at our universities of almost 90% since 2000.

That bench strength, combined with this new certainty, gives Canada’s universities the flexibility to pursue their priorities and missions and perform at their best. Driven by quality research and innovation, Canada will do the same. 

Commentary - February 13, 2014

This op-ed was posted on The Globe and Mail’s website on February 13, 2014

By Dr. David T. Barnard

In the highly competitive international field of research and innovation, Canada has just made an exceptional commitment to owning the podium.

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund announced in Budget 2014, coupled with the largest investment in Canada’s research granting councils in a decade, represents a catalytic investment. With a commitment of $1.5 billion over 10 years to the research excellence fund, this budget is a tangible recognition that a world-class research system is a critical element of a vibrant, innovative and competitive economy.

Just as we’ve seen with our Olympic athletes, skill, tenacity and desire are not enough. Those attributes have to be matched by reliable funding for training, facilities, staff and the right equipment.

Canada’s universities have what it takes and are in the game. We have a head start. Our past achievements are already an advantage.  The federal government’s commitment to Canadian research and innovation has resulted in a suite of programs – fellowships, scholarships and research chairs.  Through the economic downturn, Canada has protected these investments. This has been critical to the success of Canada’s universities and has had a strong and direct impact on the prosperity and quality of life of Canadians.  In addition, universities have been able to stem an historical brain drain and to attract and retain outstanding faculty, undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. 

Even with all that, our world advantage has been tenuous. So this ambitious new research excellence fund, coupled with the commitment of enhanced funding in discovery research through the federal granting councils, is significant. Other countries are working at doing more, ramping up to gain an edge. Canada faces growing international competition as more nations invest in research and innovation, and reap the benefits of those investments in the development of more skilled and creative workforces, as well as new and dynamic knowledge-based industries. In short, they are matching our record and are working to better it.                                  

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund is an exceptional investment in moving Canada forward. We have the potential to be among the leaders. And even while this new program will help Canadian universities compete on the world stage, it will also allow us to collaborate with leading researchers around the world.  Research results increasingly come from global networks of discovery and creativity.  

The new funding signals to others that Canada intends to compete with the best in terms of support for research excellence and attracting top innovators to our universities. The strategy recognizes that research excellence takes place at universities of all sizes and in all regions of the country. So the benefits will be shared by communities, students and faculties across Canada.

Canada’s universities conduct nearly $1 billion of research for the private sector in Canada each year. They also conduct more than $1 billion of research a year with community and non-profit groups, particularly in the area of health. We all benefit from the results, whether it’s a new procedure for joint replacements, a more accurate means of testing water quality or a clearer interpretation of our history.  For all of us, this is a pivotal moment.  

And we are ready. Half of the faculty members teaching at Canadian universities have been hired in the last decade. Together with more senior colleagues they are making large contributions and are ready to do more. We’ve also seen huge growth in the number of graduate students at our universities of almost 90 per cent since 2000.  They are also ready to go. 

Last fall’s Speech from the Throne called on us to seize the moment, to make our mark, to build on our ingenuity and natural wealth. It asked Canadians to be daring, to secure prosperity, for Canadians now, and for the generations to follow. With this funding, we will do that.

David T. Barnard is President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba and Chair of AUCC.

Media release - February 11, 2014

OTTAWA – Substantial and exceptional investments in university research announced today in Budget 2014 will allow universities to achieve global leadership in knowledge and innovation for Canada, say leaders of Canada’s universities.

“This is a pivotal moment for research excellence and innovation in Canada,” says David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba and chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “The establishment of an ambitious new research excellence fund, coupled with the commitment of enhanced funding in discovery research through the federal granting councils, represent a catalytic investment. This shows that the government is taking a strategic approach to creating prosperity in Canada, and recognizes that a vibrant, innovative and competitive Canadian economy needs a world-class research system.”

Budget 2014 established the Canada First Research Excellence Fund with a $1.5 billion investment over 10 years, beginning in 2015-16. With this fund, the government has committed to a long-term, strategic vision for research and innovation in Canada. This investment in the next generation of researchers will intensify the momentum for Canada’s universities and their partners in advancing economic growth and quality of life for all Canadians.

The budget contains a series of investments in advanced research and innovation that are “far-sighted and strategic,” says Dr. Barnard. Canada’s university researchers are at the prime of their careers; more than 50 per cent of university faculty have been hired in the last 10 years. Graduate student enrolment has increased by almost 90 per cent since 2000. The government has seized this moment with investments that will propel Canada’s research and innovation performance.

Canada’s universities came together over the past year to advocate for a strategic investment in excellence – an ambitious new research fund that would be open, competitive and supplementary to research support from the federal granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

As proposed by AUCC during pre-budget consultations, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund is an ambitious plan to position Canada as a world leader in research and innovation. Canada’s universities welcome the government’s recognition of university research as a significant driver of prosperity, and its vision and action in making this bold investment in Canada’s future.

“Today Canada is signalling to the leading research nations of the world that it intends to compete with the best in terms of support for research excellence and attracting top innovators to our universities,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president. “This new strategy recognizes that research excellence takes place at universities of all sizes and in all regions of the country; the benefits will be shared by communities, students and faculty across Canada.”

University leaders also applaud the government’s ongoing recognition of the value of university research, including discovery research and indirect costs, by substantially increasing funding for Canada’s research granting councils. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – will receive an additional $37 million a year for advanced research and $9 million for indirect costs on an ongoing basis.

The federal government has increased funding for research and innovation in each year since 2006.

The government’s focus on ensuring the next generation of innovators has the skills and experience they need for the labour force is also welcome, AUCC says. Investments in Mitacs, a not-for-profit agency that offers internships and fellowships for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, will give a boost to their careers. “The funding announced today will expand opportunities and benefit postdocs and employers alike,” says Mr. Davidson. AUCC has been working in partnership with Mitacs for a number of years to enhance programs that connect university graduates to work experiences.

Universities also welcome new investments in internships that will provide even more funding to connect postsecondary graduates with real-life work experiences. “More than half of today’s university students already take part in a co-op experience, internship or field placement during their undergraduate studies,” says Mr. Davidson.

Canada’s universities welcome Budget 2014’s investment of $1.25 billion in support of a new landmark agreement with the Assembly of First Nations to overhaul Aboriginal education at the K-12 level. The agreement was announced Feb. 7 at the Kainai High School in Stand Off, Alberta. AUCC is a strategic partner of the AFN in improving accessibility and success for Aboriginal students in higher education. In consultation and partnership with Indigenous communities, Canada’s universities have made enhancements in academic programming, services and curricula to better meet the needs of Aboriginal students. This includes community outreach and mentorship activities for young Aboriginals starting as early as their elementary grades to help them succeed at school and see a brighter future through education. A substantially improved K-12 system will help many more students achieve their goal of higher education.

AUCC is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges.

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Media Contacts:

Helen Murphy
Assistant Director of Communications
hmurphy@aucc.ca
613 563-3961 ext. 238 or cell: 613 608-8749

Nadine Robitaille
Communications Officer
nrobitaille@aucc.ca
613 563-1236 ext. 306 or cell: 613 884-8401

Media release - November 27, 2013

OTTAWA – Canada’s universities welcome the federal government’s launch of a renewed foreign policy and trade plan which highlights education and the promotion of Canada’s research and innovation advantage abroad among its top priorities.

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, announced the launch of the report entitled the Global Markets Action Plan: The Blueprint for Creating Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians Through Trade today in Ottawa.

Canada’s universities are pleased with the report’s identification of international education as a priority sector that will strengthen Canada’s trade, investment and people-to-people ties in priority markets.  Canadian universities are recognized as world-class institutions that provide excellent education and research opportunities to Canadian and international students and are a key resource in attracting the world’s best and brightest to Canada.  The Action Plan also highlighted the value of Canadian universities in fostering research linkages.

The university sector looks forward to the government’s forthcoming launch of an international education strategy to build Canada’s brand of excellence in education and research.  Advisory panel recommendations to the government included doubling the number of international students coming to Canada, establishing a new mechanism for supporting international research collaboration at scale, and creating a new program to send 50,000 Canadian students abroad annually by 2022. 

“International education is one of the few sectors to have grown constantly through the recession, to a value of $8 billion per year in communities large and small across the country,” said AUCC president, Paul Davidson.  “The federal government clearly recognizes the benefits that international students bring to Canadian university campuses and their communities, and the economic and trade advantages they bring to the country as a whole.”

AUCC is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges.

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Media Contact:

Nadine Robitaille
Communications Officer
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
nrobitaille@aucc.ca
613-563-3961 ext. 306

Media release - November 26, 2013


OTTAWA — A new Canadian-European initiative aims to raise awareness of the growing partnership opportunities for Canadian and European researchers and innovators. The ERA-Can Plus project will promote science, technology and innovation collaboration between Canada and the European Union through policy dialogues, research exchanges and information sharing about funding opportunities.

The initiative, launched in early October, begins just as the EU is set to start its Eighth Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, also referred to as Horizon 2020, with an expected budget of more than €70 billion (CAD $92 billion) between 2014-2020. The signing of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement in the same month also underscores the important economic and research ties between Canada and the EU, and the role of science and technology for promoting innovation-based economic growth.

“Canada is a valued partner for the European Union in a wide range of cooperation areas and our partnership in research and innovation is particularly strong,” said European Union Ambassador Marie-Anne Coninsx. “ERA-Can Plus will further contribute to deepen the already existing strong ties. In particular, this joint initiative will be instrumental in facilitating enhanced cooperation in the new mutually agreed priority areas of arctic and marine research.”

ERA-Can Plus will raise awareness of the multiple research and innovation program opportunities for Canadians in Horizon 2020 and for Europeans in Canada’s research programs. The project will tackle societal challenges by helping bridge the gap between research and the market and will also enrich the Canada-EU policy dialogue by identifying research areas of mutual interest. It builds on two previous ERA-Can projects that have made significant inroads in expanding Canadian and European research collaboration and improving bilateral relations between Canada and the EU.

 “Building on the recently announced agreement-in-principle on an historic Canada-European Union trade agreement, ERA-Can Plus is yet another bridge that will help us take our 21st century relationship to the next level,” said the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade. “Enhancing the science, technology and innovation collaboration between Canada and the European Union, key features of our landmark trade agreement, will contribute to new jobs and new opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.”

“The ERA-CAN Plus project objectives and its Canadian and European partnership correspond to the new international cooperation strategy for research and innovation of the European Union,” said Maria Cristina Russo, Director in DG RTD for International Cooperation in the European Commission. “It will support the implementation of our policy dialogue for example as follow up of the Galway Statement signed by Canada and the EU.“

The consortium brings together seven leading associations and organizations for research, innovation and public policy discussions from across Canada and Europe. The Canadian partners are the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, and the Public Policy Forum. The European partners are the Agenzia per la Promozione della Ricerca Europea in Italy, the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique in France, the Project Management Agency at DLR in Germany, and the Zentrum für Soziale Innovation in Austria. The Italian partner will act as the coordinator for the project.

The project is largely funded by the European Commission. 

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For more information:
Martina de Sole 
Coordinator APRE   
info@era-can.net

Commentary - September 27, 2013

This op-ed was published in Research Money magazine September 26, 2013

By Elizabeth Cannon

The third Science, Technology and Innovation Council “state of the nation” report, released earlier this year, says Canada risks erosion of its competitive talent advantage if it does not make significant investments in research and education.

The report findings are no surprise. It says that Canada continues to rank in the mid-levels as a performer in science, technology and innovation when compared to other countries. While noting that Canada can celebrate the high quality of talent coming out of our postsecondary institutions – and calling that talent a “competitive advantage” – the report signals that the country requires real improvement in other areas. Among the key challenges highlighted is the need to enhance private sector investments in R&D, which continue to lag behind many other countries. When a country such as ours trails on R&D spending, we typically trail in productivity and competitiveness measures as well.

One need only look at the international horizon to witness the changing dynamic. Many of Canada’s international competitors are coming from new places. As European countries and the United States continue their slow economic recovery, Asia and South America are home to the world’s rising economies.

Expansion and productivity in emerging nations are changing our world in ways we are only beginning to grasp. Since 2008, GDP in India and China has been growing by an average of more than seven per cent a year, in real terms, and Brazil’s is growing by three per cent per year. Meanwhile, in the developed OECD nations, annual GDP growth has been less than one per cent per year.

New realities require new ways of competing. In Canada, one of our greatest assets is our high-quality education system. Now, as never before, there is an urgent need to leverage that asset for growth and prosperity.

In our knowledge economy, progress relies heavily on technological and process advancements; prosperity requires innovation. And innovation increasingly happens at the junction between university research and business initiative.

Universities are natural partners for private sector R&D. They help businesses solve problems through new technologies and new ideas. Through their international connections, they open up new markets; through their expertise, they uncover efficiencies.

So how can educational institutions help Canada compete? Among the most effective and efficient ways of improving our competitive position and boosting our economic prospects is through increased collaboration between universities and business. Canadian universities conduct close to $900 million in research annually in partnership with the business sector.

Partnership through research and development is not solely the domain of industry however.  The not-for-profit sector is also investing heavily in university R&D; in 2011, this sector represented another $1 billion in university research.

But in the competitive global marketplace, this is still not enough. Canadian companies spend less on R&D than our direct competitors. Israeli companies, for example, spend proportionately three times more on R&D than do Canadian firms, while Swedish, German and American companies invest more than twice as much.

Further collaboration is essential. Collaborative and innovative research between universities and business is a key link to economic prosperity. For example, Roger Butler, a former Imperial Oil employee who from 1983 to 1995 held the first Endowed Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary, is often referred to as the father of steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), after developing one of the most commercially effective technologies for extracting bitumen in Alberta’s oil sands. Today, further advances in SAGD technology are driving new innovations to increase oil production using the least amounts of water, natural gas, electricity and land.

Another significant way universities support business innovation is through internships.  Interns and co-op students bring energy and a wealth of new ideas and new knowledge to their placements in business and civil society. Along the way, they learn how organizations operate and develop the skills and contacts that will help them in their future careers.

Today, half of all undergraduate students participate in internships and co-ops during the course of their studies. Expanding these kinds of opportunities for Canadian students – especially at the graduate level — will improve knowledge transfer to industry and help businesses of all sizes become more innovative and competitive.

Still, we can do even more by challenging the status quo. Canada’s universities and businesses are actively engaging the public and policy-makers in a number of areas that will improve partnership opportunities, and in turn boost our bottom-line global competitiveness. Policy decisions supporting areas such as research funding, graduate education, and immigration of skilled individuals can all help.

Universities and the private sector can do more for Canada by partnering and collaborating. Industry needs the ideas, imagination and creativity universities provide. Universities benefit from the real-life challenges businesses present.

The true beneficiaries are all Canadians, because industry and university collaboration creates jobs, builds prosperity and enhances our quality of life.

Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. An expert in geomatics engineering, she is a former dean of the Schulich School of Engineering and is a former holder of the NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering. 

Media release - March 21, 2013

OTTAWA – The federal government’s investments in university research, skills and talent will help to make Canada more innovative and competitive, says the organization representing Canada’s 97 universities across the country.

“One million young people will graduate from Canada’s universities by the year 2017,” says Stephen Toope, president of The University of British Columbia and chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “They’ll be equipped with the knowledge, experiences and skills Canada will need for decades to come. And they’ll have gained the ability to adapt to the jobs of today – and tomorrow.”

“Canada needs more university, college and trades graduates to compete in the new global knowledge economy,” adds Paul Davidson, president of AUCC. According to a recent CIBC report, most jobs in high demand in Canada require a university degree, including managers in health, education, social and community services; human resources and business service professionals; and supervisors in manufacturing and processing.

The federal government’s research investments have made Canada a top research nation. “Even in difficult fiscal times, the government recognizes that university research fuels a competitive advantage for Canada,” says Mr. Davidson. “Over successive budgets, the federal government has increased support for research and innovation in Canada –investments that nurture talent, create jobs and make us more competitive internationally.”

Canada’s universities also welcomed the importance that today’s budget places on international education initiatives. “Investments in international education leverage economic benefits of more than $8 billion a year – and they benefit every region of Canada,” Mr. Davidson points out. “Employers tell us they want a versatile international workforce. Canada benefits – and Canadian students benefit – from a global outlook.”

AUCC is part of an education sector-led consortium that has urged the government to enhance international education efforts to drive Canada’s global competitiveness, and is ready to work with partners to help ensure the international education strategy advances.

A new element of the international education efforts announced today is enhanced funding for Mitacs’ Globalink Program, which brings top undergraduate students from around the world to Canadian universities to undertake research projects and will now allow Canadian students to go abroad for research experiences. “This is an opportunity for Canada’s universities to enhance their profile and attract the brightest international students to our campuses,” says Mr. Davidson.

University leaders also welcomed a new scholarship program that will improve access and achievement for Aboriginal postsecondary students. The budget provides funding to be matched by the private sector for new scholarships for Aboriginal students through an initiative of Indspire, in collaboration with Canada’s universities.

“Aboriginal youth is the fastest growing segment of our population, yet Aboriginal university graduation rates lag far behind those of the non-Aboriginal population,” notes Mr. Davidson. “These measures are a concrete step towards closing the education gap.”

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For interviews and information, please contact:

Helen Murphy
Assistant Director, Communications
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
613.563.1236, ext. 238
Cell: 613.608.8749
hmurphy@aucc.ca

Nadine Robitaille|
Communications Officer
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Tel: 613.563.3961, ext. 306
Cell: 613.884.8401
nrobitaille@aucc.ca

Commentary - December 6, 2012

This op-ed was published in Research Money magazine, December 6, 2012

By Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, “you simply can’t build a modern economy without investing in world-class research.”

Our modern knowledge economy depends heavily on research and innovation, both of which require talent, perseverance and funding. Innovation – the search for a new idea, a new way of doing things, a new product – is what allows us to put our knowledge to use and to be competitive in a global economy. High-quality research makes innovation happen. And both take place at universities.

The OECD’s Innovation Strategy and the Canada’s 2011 Jenkins Report demonstrate that universities play a crucial role in driving innovation and prosperity, and for that matter, the health, social well-being and security of nations.

In 2011, Canada’s universities were responsible for 38 percent of Canada’s R&D activities and conducted more than $11.3 billion in research, including approximately $1 billion in directly funded contract research for the private sector. The overall economic impact of Canada’s universities is estimated to be more than $60 billion annually.

What’s more, research and innovation translate into jobs. According to the OECD, innovation accounted for two-thirds to three-quarters of economic growth in Austria, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States between 1995 and 2006.

Innovation also attracts talent. When Canadian universities take a lead in conducting research, we draw bright minds to our country. In recent years, universities have attracted or repatriated more than 450 Canada Research Chairs and Canada Excellence Research Chairs from abroad. Talent follows opportunity.

In this globalized world it’s no longer enough for us to succeed or even excel at home – Canada must compete globally. Nurturing top talent at home and attracting leading researchers from around the world is what will position Canada as an innovation leader.

We have a strong foundation upon which to build. A report by the Council of Canadian Academies recently highlighted the high regard that the world’s most cited researchers have for the quality research conducted in our universities. We can strengthen that reputation by leveraging and growing partnerships between Canadian universities and international institutions, both public and private.

I recently had the opportunity to serve on the U.S. National Research Council’s Committee on Research Universities, and it is clear that research universities on both sides of the border are working to respond to their changing environment.

The U.S., a long-time front-runner in research and innovation, is at risk of falling behind in the innovation race, due in part to stagnating investment in innovation. Asia’s emerging economies steadily and dramatically increased R&D spending as a percentage of GDP between 1996 and 2007 – Japan’s reached 3.4 percent in 2007, and South Korea’s 3.5 percent. In comparison, U.S. spending remained between 2.5 and 2.8 percent of GDP over the past three decades, while Canada’s was still below 2 percent of GDP in 2007.[1]

In a globally competitive environment, partnerships between universities and the wider community, including industry and civil society, have never been more critical. Countries, institutions and companies need to tap into and contribute to international knowledge networks.

Innovation is, at its core, a creative endeavour. Creativity often means heading down a path without knowing what’s at the end.

Earlier this year, after almost 50 years of searching, researchers confirmed the existence of the Higgs-Boson particle. While there may be no known applications for the Higgs-Boson particle today, the search for it has contributed to discoveries in health instrumentation, diagnostics and treatments, as well as the information and communication technologies that power the Internet.

Innovations and discoveries enrich our daily lives. Research in social science and humanities is increasingly important in our globalized world. Trading with partners in Canada and from around the world requires a deep understanding of history, culture, religion, law, ethics, marketing, supply-chain development and data analytics – research skills that come primarily from social science and humanities programs.

As our government develops national strategies for science and technology, international education and global commerce, Canada’s universities – and their tremendous capacity for talent development, research, innovation and collaboration – will play a key role in our country’s roadmap for the future.

Dr. Heather Munroe-Blum is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University and a Professor of Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine. She is a member of Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council, and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for her outstanding record of achievements in science, innovation and higher education policy.

Media release - September 27, 2012

OTTAWA – A new report from the Council of Canadian Academies highlights the outstanding quality of Canada’s university researchers and points to Canada’s growing influence on global knowledge. Commissioned by Industry Canada and released today, The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012 underscores the excellence and breadth of research taking place at Canadian universities in a broad range of fields. The State of Science and Technology is a follow-up report to a 2006 study. The new report found “a high international regard for the quality and rigour” of Canada’s science and technology researchers.

 “The new report by the Council of Canadian Academies emphasizes the crucial role Canadian university researchers play on the world stage,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “Our universities are driving research and innovation, and gaining international respect for the quality of their work in a broad range of fields.”

Prepared by an 18-member expert panel that was chaired by Eliot Phillipson, the former president of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and included Sara Diamond, president of OCAD University, the report takes and ambitious and wide-ranging look at the current state of Canadian research.

Among its key findings:

  • Between 2005 and 2010, Canada produced about 60 percent more academic papers than it had in the previous five years – the highest increase among G7 nations.
  • Nearly four in 10 of the world’s top-cited international researchers ranked Canada in the top five countries in their field, and 68 percent rated Canada as strong compared to the rest of the world. This puts Canada fourth in the world (behind only the U.S., the U.K. and Germany).
  • Canada produces nearly five percent of the most frequently cited research papers in the world, despite having only 0.5 percent of the world’s population.

 “Our universities are well-positioned to help Canada compete in the global marketplace of ideas,” says Mr. Davidson. “Canada’s research contributions are healthy, growing, internationally competitive and well-respected.”

AUCC is the national voice of Canada’s universities, representing 94 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities.

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Media Contact:

Nadine Robitaille
Communications Officer
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
nrobitaille@aucc.ca
613-563-1236 ext. 306

Commentary - September 21, 2012

Op-ed published in Research Money September 21, 2012

By Daniel Woolf
Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University
Chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada’s Standing Advisory Committee on International Relations

New and returning students have unpacked their things and settled back into campus life here at Queen’s University, but many graduate students have been here all summer, working alongside faculty researchers on a variety of projects. The research endeavour never sleeps.

In Canada, we’re doing well in terms of research achievements. Canadian research teams have elevated our status as a world leader in areas of expertise such as information and communications technology, health education and environmental stewardship. But we need to push further to compete in today’s highly competitive, multi-disciplinary, trillion-dollar global research industry. Our contemporaries are already focusing their resources and attention to compete in this market.

Take a look at Brazil, projected to become the fifth-largest economy over the next few years. Already, it has 5.4 million university students and produces more PhDs than Canada. Other parts of the world have become the planet’s economic drivers. In fewer than two decades, more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP will come from Asia.

A culture of collaboration among top world talent has already become both the norm and the necessity. In Canada, some 40 percent of today’s university faculty earned their first or highest degree in another country, and 30 percent of Canada Research Chairs have been recruited from abroad. Top research talents are collaborating at a record level to leverage their combined data, research and knowledge. Close to 50 percent of Canada’s research papers have co-authors from other countries – twice the rate of 15 years ago and double the world average. Now we must step up our momentum to keep pace with the changing context of global research.

The shift toward international partnerships comes as traditional world powers cope with difficult fiscal realities. The United States’ slower-than-anticipated recovery and the European Union’s ongoing economic fragility have allowed Brazil, China and India to seize the lead. In this climate of change, what remains constant is the collective global recognition that university research, as a key investment, drives both short- and long-term economic growth. Over the past decade, our competitors have been pouring considerable resources into all sectors of research.

The Royal Society of London estimates the number of researchers, globally, at seven million. In our research-driven global economy, the new challengers – with their booming populations – are very serious about research and economic growth.

As I, and others, have stated elsewhere, Canada is facing fundamental choices. Economic, social and technological revolutions are underway throughout the world. We will confront significant economic, health, and labour market challenges as a result of shifting demographics in the decades ahead. By 2030, the proportion of the Canadian population that is over the age of 65 will double, while the working age population (ages 25-64) will grow by only eight percent. To offset these differences and remain competitive in the global marketplace, we must use our considerable research assets to drive innovation and become more productive.

There are already clear results from global collaborations, and more will follow. Working as teammates, our international partnerships on pandemic research and planning mean we’ll also combat the spread of infectious diseases with greater insight and speed. Collaboration in the face of major environmental shifts and surging world populations will ensure better planetary resource management.

For example, Queen’s University partners with Fudan University in Shanghai and the Southwest University of China to offer the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology. Students from both countries do field study on aquatic environments and ecosystems along the Yangtze River in the vicinity of the Three Gorges Dam Project in China, and in the St. Lawrence River and Frontenac Arch regions of Eastern Ontario.

Moreover, Colin Funk, Canada Research Chair in Molecular, Cellular and Physiological Medicine at Queen’s, is the only Canadian scientist working with an international consortium of 39 investigators from 18 institutions and four countries to personalize drug therapy for the most common medications consumed worldwide, with the goal of reducing the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.

These examples show Canada has top talent to bring to the table. But if we expect others to view Canada as an attractive partner, we must commit to R&D as an investment priority, and make this commitment well-known across the globe. Competition is fierce. Our international colleagues seeking collaboration on highly complex issues will naturally pursue the most readily available resources, talent and investment.

As our competitors surge forward, Canada must commit more in R&D investment, particularly on the private sector side. Either we demonstrate comparable commitment, or potential collaborators will take their business elsewhere: we then run the further risk of Canadian researchers moving outside Canada.

To build prosperity at home, our international competitors must also be our allies. Competition and collaboration now go hand-in-hand. The result of doing both well will be increased innovation, productivity, social well-being, entrepreneurship and jobs for Canadians.

Commentary - September 4, 2012

This op-ed was published in the Globe and Mail on September 3, 2012

By Paul Davidson
President and CEO
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Like the rush to buy new running shoes for the kids and the shortening of summer evenings, the last days of August routinely bring a wave of editorial comment questioning the value of a university education, bemoaning the cost of tuition, and lamenting a supposed by-gone golden age of higher education. More recently, these have been coupled with articles suggesting today’s graduates are ill-prepared for the workforce and that universities are failing to advance Canada’s research and innovation agenda.

While it is true that tuition has increased in recent years, so too has the value of a degree. The income premium of a university degree is large and growing. University graduates will on average earn $1.3 million more during their careers than a high school graduate and $1 million more than a college grad. And contrary to what you read in the papers, there are jobs for university graduates. Between July 2008 and July 2012 there were 700,000 new jobs for university graduates in Canada compared with 320,000 for college grads, and a net loss of 640,000 jobs for those with no postsecondary education.

Student debt load is a serious issue that we should all work to address – but it is important to note that more than four out of 10 students in Canada graduate completely debt-free. For those that do have debt, almost one-third owe less than $12,000. How do we make sure that the balance among private value, public benefit and access is appropriate?

Canadians typically overestimate the cost of a degree and underestimate its value. In a world of greater uncertainty, a university education remains the surest path to prosperity for Canadians.

One of the greatest public policy achievements of the last three decades is expanded access to Canada’s high quality higher education system. Once the preserve of Canada’s elite – in 1980, only 10 percent of Canada’s young people attended university – full-time enrolment has since increased steadily so that this fall, one in every four young Canadians will be enrolled full-time. Indeed, university enrolment has grown by more than 50 percent since 2000 alone. In fact, undergraduate enrolment surpassed the one million student mark for the first time last fall. Canada will need all of them, and more, to offset the retirement wave that is already underway. In the next 20 years, six million Canadians are set to retire. Many of those jobs, as well as new jobs being created in an increasingly knowledge-driven world, will need to be filled by university graduates. Public investment to ensure today’s students get the quality education experience of previous generations is essential to Canada’s economic strength in the years ahead.

Frankly, public investments have not kept pace with the dramatic expansion of enrolment. In fact, on a per student basis, provincial support for university operating budgets remains at the same level as it was in 1997. You read that right. While 20 years earlier, government operating support averaged $22,400 per student, by 1997 it had fallen to $11,600 and it has stayed at that level ever since. It can be argued that universities today are delivering substantially more with substantially less.

The development of co-op, internship and work placements – both in industry and broader society – has become a distinguishing characteristic of the Canadian university experience. Once an opportunity in a few programs at a few universities, today more than half of all students will have the opportunity of putting ideas to work during the course of their studies. These students benefit from this early exposure to the working world – as do businesses benefit from a ready source of new ideas, approaches and energy.

With more than half of Canada’s faculty hired in the last 10 years, campuses across the country have a new generation of professors providing their students with opportunities for hands-on research experiences – experiences that excite the imagination and help build a culture of innovation. Going to university is more than a rite of passage. It is an opportunity to engage in the pursuit of ideas and research that generates new knowledge, which can then be transformed into products, processes and services. The research environment is a critical training ground for students. The ability to identify a problem, test solutions, and apply new knowledge in related areas is the very definition of innovation and at the heart of the university mission. Research transforms how we think, act and live.

Federal investments in research and innovation since 1997 have provided Canada with an extraordinary platform upon which to conduct leading research that benefits Canadians and the world. These investments are integral to ensuring Canada a prominent place in a globalized world. More important, they are an essential component in finding the new discoveries and nurturing the talent that will lead to enhanced economic prospects for all Canadians. And perhaps most importantly, learning in a research-enriched environment provides university graduates with the 21st century ideas and skills that today’s employers want – and need.

Oh, and those back-to-school running shoes you’re buying? They’re better than ever, thanks to the work of university researchers including those at the University of Calgary’s Human Performance Lab – home to one of the world’s leading experts in the biomechanics of sports shoes.

Commentary - April 3, 2012

This op-ed by Stephen Toope, chairman of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and UBC president, was published in the National Post.

In the global knowledge economy, a country’s greatest strategic advantage is its capacity to discover and innovate.

The federal government acknowledged this clearly in Thursday’s budget, with its commitment to make smart investments in research and innovation. Maintaining such priorities at a time of difficult fiscal decisions affirms the Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s declared ambition to position Canada as a centre of excellence in research, innovation and higher education.

That last component — higher education — is critical to the mix. Education is our best tool for cultivating creativity and equipping citizens to engage globally.

When it comes to developing our human potential, Canada’s universities deliver the greatest possible return on investment. They prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges. They strengthen our communities and drive discovery through dynamic research. They are where critical questions are asked — curious, provocative questions — yielding insights that reframe challenges and expose new possibilities.

Universities play a vital role not only in generating specific innovations, but in building an overall culture of innovation, embedding it in the character of our country.

To make the most of our investments in higher education, we have to create conditions within our universities that will attract highly qualified international students and professors — and entice talented Canadians from all walks of life to stay and do their best work here at home.

The benefits associated with investing in higher education, research and innovation are profound: A strong economy, unlocking human potential, enhancing our quality of life. Fortunately, public investments in Canadian research and innovation have increased nearly fourfold since 1995 — and continue to rise even during the economic downturn.

Around the world, countries are moving quickly to advance their discovery and innovation agendas. This is especially true among emerging economies, which are transforming themselves through dramatic investments in higher education and research. The number of people graduating from China’s universities and specialized colleges has nearly quadrupled since 2000, and the so-called BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — tripled their output of scientific articles between 1996 and 2007, a measure of their drive to innovate. Canada cannot afford to rest on its laurels, and our government understands that reality.

In presenting a strategic, multi-year agenda for discovery and innovation — including stable funding for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and new investment in the Canada Foundation for Innovation — the federal budget signals a commitment to ensuring that Canada is a leader in innovation.

Our future economic strength and social cohesion will depend less on what we now know, and more on what we are capable of learning. We must enhance our capacity to acquire, discover and utilize knowledge. This is — and has always been — the role of universities.

With sustained support, Canadian universities will continue to be laboratories of change and incubators of resilience-producing global citizens who are ready to thrive in a world where nothing stands still and the future belongs to those who imagine it, and build it, first.

Commentary - March 31, 2012

This op-ed by Heather Munroe-Blum, chair of AUCC’s Standing Advisory Committee on University Research and principal of McGill University, was published in the Montreal Gazette.

Last fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper put it about as directly as it could be said: “You can’t build a modern economy without investing in world-class research.”

World-class research, and the preparation of our citizens to succeed in a globally oriented and complex world, starts at Canada’s universities. It produces knowledge that transforms the ways we think, work and live. It connects us to fellow innovators near home and across the globe. It also pays tangible dividends.
 
Since 1999, more than 1,200 companies have been spun out of discoveries made at Canadian universities – and our graduates have used the knowledge gained over the course of their degrees to create thousands more. Each year, our universities conduct close to $1 billion in direct collaboration with the private sector and another billion with the not-for-profit sector. Overall, the annual economic impact of university research exceeds $60 billion. McGill University’s contribution toward the development and dissemination of knowledge in Quebec alone, for example, was estimated at $3.2 billion in 2008. And every year, more than 200,000 students graduate and go to work in Canadian organizations, large and small, helping them to prosper.
 
Over the past 10 years, and notwithstanding the clear need for real-time austerity measures, government investment in university research has increased by more than 80 per cent. In keeping pace with the growth rate of investment of other countries, the government signals a sustained national priority of achieving high-quality university research and an investment in educated, well-prepared people.
 
The longer-term perspective on research and innovation evident in Budget 2012 is encouraging. Notably, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget provides ongoing program funding for the federal granting agencies Genome Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
 
This funding is crucial to developing knowledge, global awareness, creativity and innovation, and will support research that is at the root of Canada’s health and successful growth, allowing our top university talent to create new ideas and breakthroughs that private and not-for-profit sectors can develop into products and services.
 
What is less known is the vital role that federal grants play in developing the highly qualified personnel at the core of our innovation society. Up to three-quarters of the budget of most grants fund salaries for graduate students and research technicians. Programs also provide students and organizations with opportunities to connect in the workplace, promoting knowledge exchange. The expansion of the Industrial Research and Development Internship program for master’s students will provide Canada’s small-and mediumsized enterprises with increased access to cutting-edge research skills and will serve to foster knowledge mobility and a stronger culture of innovation for companies that may not be able to otherwise afford this calibre of talent.
 
Through Canada’s firm commitment to research, we are bringing the energy and expertise of our universities to bear on problems that really matter – whether creating more effective biomedical devices, providing policy advice to regions transitioning to democracy or helping communities devise sustainable solutions to nutrition problems.

Research in the social sciences and humanities allows universities to provide Canadians with the tools necessary to navigate through an increasingly complex world, where intercultural fluency, understanding of the role of demographics and insight into human development are key to achieving and maintaining healthy communities and civil society.
 
Canada’s health and future growth and prosperity will depend on our ability to innovate – that much is certain. Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, summed it up nicely in a speech last month: “We have what it takes to build a competitive advantage in the global economy that will result in jobs, growth and prosperity. We just have to be bold!”
 
Canada’s universities, our students and professors, are taking up that challenge and, with the sustained and growing commitment of government to high-quality research and scholarship, and Canada’s increasingly deep, international engagement, we will be bold indeed.

Media release - March 29, 2012

OTTAWA – Canada’s universities welcome the smart, strategic investments in research and innovation contained in today’s federal budget.

“In the face of tough fiscal choices, the government showed leadership by continuing its investments in research, innovation, research infrastructure and university-private sector collaborations,” says Stephen Toope, chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada’s board of directors and president of the University of British Columbia. “These investments will build a stronger future for our society and economy.”

In a climate where some federal government departments are seeing reductions, the federal budget provides ongoing funding for research and innovation through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to enhance their support of industry-academic research partnership programs. These investments will preserve current levels of basic research and scholarships funding, securing Canada’s position as a global leader in research and discovery.

An additional $500 million over five years for the Canada Foundation for Innovation reflects the importance that high-quality research infrastructure plays in attracting and retaining top students and researchers from around the world. In addition, the budget includes measures to give graduate students valuable research experience in the private sector – an initiative called for by AUCC.

Other strategic investments in research and higher education include:

  • $60 million for Genome Canada to launch a new applied research competition in the area of human health, and to sustain the Science and Technology Centres until 2014–15,
  • $40 million over two years to support CANARIE’s operation of Canada’s ultra-high speed research network,
  • $6.5 million over three years for a research project at McMaster University to evaluate team-based approaches to health care delivery,
  • $17 million over two years to further advance the development of alternatives to existing isotope production technologies, and
  •  $10 million over two years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research to link Canadians to global research networks.

“The budget provides new opportunities for talented graduate students to gain research experiences in companies across Canada,” says AUCC president Paul Davidson. “We’re also pleased the budget recognizes the importance of deepening international education and research linkages.”

The government is also investing in knowledge transfer and commercialization with $24 million over two years and $12 million per year thereafter to make the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program permanent. This initiative supports research on business priorities by teams of private-sector researchers and academics.

In addition, the budget contains funding to improve educational outcomes for Canada’s Aboriginal people, including $275 million to support First Nations education on reserve. This is a shared priority, and Canada’s universities will continue to work with Aboriginal organizations, the Government of Canada and private sector partners to ensure that our growing population of Aboriginal youth has access to high quality postsecondary experiences.

AUCC is the national voice of Canada’s universities, representing 95 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities.

Watch the video of Paul Davidson’s response to budget 2012 »

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For interviews and information, please contact:

Helen Murphy
Manager, Communications
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
613.563.1236, ext. 238
Cell: 613.608.8749
hmurphy@aucc.ca

Mélanie Béchard
Communications Officer
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Tel: 613.563.3961, ext. 306
Cell: 613.884.8401
mbechard@aucc.ca

Commentary - February 19, 2012

This op-ed  by Paul Davidson was published in the Toronto Star.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is one of the world’s premiere science conferences. Between February 16 and 20,  8,000 people will meet in Vancouver to learn more about some of the world’s newest scientific discoveries and will introduce new areas of inquiry that will shape science for decades to come. It is only the second time in its 164 year history that this conference has met outside of the United States – the first time was in Toronto in 1981.

Back then, I was a high school student in Toronto with a motivated science teacher who encouraged us to attend the conference. To be blunt, Canada was not on the map of leading research, and we were encouraged to attend so that we might set our sights on joining the big leagues elsewhere – the United States or the United Kingdom. Sure we had studied about the discovery of insulin – some 60 years earlier, but the underlying message was “real science happens elsewhere.”

Today, students at that same high school are doing stem cell research during co-op placements at the Hospital for Sick Children working with global leaders in state-of-the art labs. Today, more than 1 million Canadians are pursuing an undergraduate degree, and over 190,000 are pursuing graduate studies – part of a drive towards opportunity and excellence taking place right across the country.

In 1981 there was only one university in Canada conducting more than $50 million in research annually.  Today there are 26 doing that level of research, and 12 of them conduct more than $300 million in research each year. The largest of them (University of Toronto) conducts close to $1 billion in research annually. Through sustained investments, Canada has become a leader in science, technology and innovation.

Back in 1981 there were fewer than 10,000 people pursuing PhDs in Canada. Today, there are about 45,000 full time doctoral students in Canada, and they are conducting research that will shape the 21st century. This increased opportunity has helped ensure Canada has the highly talented people we need in the global economy.

Our universities today are much more global in their outlook and in their make-up. In 1981 there were just 28,000 international students in Canada, and today there are more than 100,000 from more than 200 countries. Universities are global gateways that strengthen the connections among and between nations and people.  

Consider Canada’s linkages with China. In 1981 there were only 250 Chinese students studying here – and now there are about 20,000. As Prime Minister Harper noted last week in Beijing, these global linkages are becoming increasingly important, particularly with new and emerging global superpowers.

These are all accomplishments about which we should be very proud. Looking ahead, Canada needs to continue its investments in research and innovation, and find new and better ways to collaborate in international research to harness the best minds on the world’s toughest problems.

In 1981, Toronto was a nice place to hold a conference just beyond the U.S. border. This week, when delegates come to Vancouver, they will see how dramatically Canada has changed. They will see what Canada has done to put us on the map as an international destination, partner and peer in doing ground-breaking research.

In preparing to attend the conference in Vancouver, I am delighted to see that there will be several hundred high school students attending, and I wonder what they will achieve in the next 30 years.

Media release - February 16, 2012

OTTAWA – Emerging economies around the world are transforming themselves through dramatic investments in higher education and research, and Western countries must take action now to not be left behind.

That’s the focus of a workshop hosted by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver on Feb. 17. The session, “Establishing research collaborations with emerging economies: Canada’s experience in India and Brazil” will look at why and how Canada’s universities are establishing and enhancing educational and research partnerships with India and Brazil, the opportunities these collaborations are creating, and lessons that can be learned from the Canadian experience.

“International partnerships in research and innovation are vital to building prosperity in the new knowledge-driven economy,” says Paul Davidson, president of AUCC. “And in Canada, building international collaborations is increasingly about reaching out to emerging nations – countries that are building prosperity by investing in research and innovation.”

Brazil is an excellent example. This dynamic Latin American country is poised to become a top-five economy in the next five years and has set a research expenditure target of 2.5 percent of its GDP by 2022.

India, one of the fastest growing economies, will need 1,400 new universities in the next decade. It is currently sending about 160,000 students abroad annually and is poised to surpass all of the G8 in terms of research output.

The AUCC workshop will look at how Canada is positioning itself as a world leader in research and innovation – in part through enhanced partnerships and collaborations with emerging nations – and how this strategy fits with the country’s ongoing mission of attracting the best and brightest minds from around the world to its universities.

Workshop details:

Date: Friday, February 17, 2012

Time: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Facility: Vancouver Convention Centre (West Building)

Room: 107-108

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 NOTE TO MEDIA: AUCC president Paul Davidson is attending the AAAS Annual Meeting Feb. 16-20 and is available for interviews on this workshop topic and also the importance of hosting the AAAS gathering in Canada for our university research community.

Media Contact:

Helen Murphy
Communications Manager
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
hmurphy@aucc.ca
613-563-1236 ext. 238
Cell: 613-608-8749

Media release - February 9, 2012

OTTAWA – The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada welcomes news of increased cooperation between Canada and China in education, science and technology. The Government of Canada announced yesterday the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding related to the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program (CCSEP) and new calls for proposals under the Canada-China Framework Agreement for Cooperation on Science, Technology and Innovation.

The CCSEP’s eligibility criteria will be expanded to include opportunities for Canadian undergraduate students and mid-career professionals to gain academic and professional experience in China (the program is currently open to graduate students and faculty members). “The renewal of this program signals the importance of higher education and research collaboration as a key pillar of bilateral relations between Canada and China,” said Paul Davidson, president of AUCC.

Canada’s universities also look forward to the upcoming calls for proposals for joint research projects, which are expected to be launched in spring 2012. A total of $18 million in funding will be available to support these initiatives, which will facilitate stronger ties between Canadian and Chinese graduate students and researchers in areas such as human vaccines and clean automotive transportation.

“Canada’s future growth and prosperity depend on our ability to be more innovative and competitive. Investments in international education and research will prepare our graduates to drive the innovative capacity of Canada’s economy and make positive contributions to their local and global communities,” said Mr. Davidson.

There are currently more than 475 active partnership agreements between Canadian and Chinese universities, facilitating student and faculty mobility, research cooperation and joint academic programming in a variety of fields. Canadian universities also hosted more than 30,000 Chinese students in 2009, which is the largest group of international students in Canada.

AUCC is the national voice of Canada’s universities, representing 95 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and degree-level colleges.

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For more information:

 Helen Murphy
AUCC Communications Manager
hmurphy@aucc.ca
613-563-1236 ext. 238

Media release - January 31, 2012

OTTAWA - Canada’s university presidents are on Parliament Hill today to talk with MPs and senior civil servants about the role universities play in building a culture of innovation in Canada. The day’s activities and discussions are focused on the benefits gained by Canadians through investments in innovation, and the impressive results of university and private-sector partnerships. Close to 30 university presidents are participating.

“Our country’s future growth and prosperity depend on our ability to be more innovative and globally competitive,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “The federal government is responding to this imperative, and universities are active partners.”

Canada’s universities do more than $1 billion in research each year with the private sector, and almost $1 billion of research for health and social service non-profit groups annually. A number of private-sector partners are joining the university presidents in their “Day on the Hill.”

The day begins with the “Big Thinking Lecture” on Parliament Hill, co-hosted with the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, on the topic of re-thinking innovation. The closing event is an evening reception to demonstrate the university and private-sector partnerships that energize Canadian innovation.

AUCC is the national voice of Canada’s universities, representing 95 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and degree-level colleges.

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Media Contact:

Helen Murphy
Communications Manager
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
hmurphy@aucc.ca
613-563-1236, ext. 238


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