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Ottawa must improve research funding – or risk losing the innovation race

University of Toronto President Meric Gertler (photo by Lisa Sakulensky)

Three university leaders, including University of Toronto President Meric Gertler, are calling on Ottawa to respond to the government-commissioned Fundamental Science Review and improve funding for research.

In a Globe and Mail op-ed published this week, Gertler, along with McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier, and Santa Ono, president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia, warn that the consequences will be dire if the federal government doesn’t act on the panel’s roadmap for research.

“What is at stake?" the leaders write. "Nothing short of decades of missed opportunities that could constrain innovation and prosperity, diminish health outcomes, limit our understanding of societal challenges, and impair our ability to support the kinds of social programs we value.”

The Fundamental Science Review panel, led by U of T President Emeritus David Naylor, recommends reversing the decline of research funding and rebalancing the proportions between investigator-led and strategic research.

The three university leaders argue that investigator-driven research, or discovery research, is crucial to build an innovative society.  It is the research that is a necessary precursor to strategic, or applied, research.

“We cannot expect industry to fill this gap – only university researchers and their affiliated health institutes conduct this kind of work,” they write.

“We have an opportunity, and the moment to act is now.”

Read the Globe and Mail op-ed

Read more about the U of T's position on the Naylor report