National Research Council gets back to research with new reform plan

By: Sam Garnett

January 09, 2018

The National Research Council (NRC) has released a four-year reform plan to get back to it’s research roots. University Affairs' Brian Owens reports that the NRC will set up a postdoctoral program, appoint a Chief Science Advisor, establish a research excellence committee, and spend 20 million on new information technology.

The new plan will remain focused on multi-disciplinary research that supports the governments 2017 “Innovation and Skills Plan” budget target areas: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health and bio-sciences, and clean resources. The reforms also help to address career & professional development at the agency, in an effort to boost morale of research staff.
SPE External Director Paul Dufour also commented on the changes. From University Affairs:

“Paul Dufour, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy, said the changes do not indicate that the agency is backtracking on the Harper government’s reforms. “I think it’s a forward look, to recapture the essence of the organization: research excellence and service to industry,” he said.


Where the NRC could expand collaboration is in its facilities across the country, said Dr. Dufour. “They operate fantastic facilities in local communities, often near or in universities,” he said. “They could strengthen that by being more responsive to local needs.” The reform program does include a plan to conduct a three-year peer review of the NRC’s facilities and develop a plan for their renewal.

Dr. Dufour said much of the reform plan, such as appointing a chief scientific adviser, seems to be a reflection of the mood of the current government, which frequently talks up the importance of scientific excellence. The agency, he said, is signalling that scientific excellence is once again one of its main goals. “The real intent is to get the organization back on track, and get its branding back,” he said.”

Read more about the NRC’s reform plan from at University Affairs here.