Building a Federal Science and Technology Strategy

Local Consultative Workshop, University of Calgary, 20th July, 1994


08:45 Registration. Participants will be assigned to groups.

09:15 Welcome by the President, Professor Murray Fraser, on behalf of the University of Calgary.

09:20 Introduction to the workshop by the Minister, the Hon. Jon Gerrard, Secretary of State for Science and Technology.

09:30 Presentation by Dr. Brian Gaines (Computer Science)

International cross-disciplinary university-industry research

09:38 Presentation by Dr. Penelope W. Codding (Chemistry)

From X-rays to designing drugs

09:45 Presentation by Dr. Cooper Langford VP (Research) University of Calgary

A University View of the New R&D Climate

10:00 Participants move to break out rooms.

Working Session #1 "How can science and technology best contribute to the creation of wealth and jobs, within the context of sustainable development?"

10:30 Coffee break

10:35 Resume Working Session #1

11:30 Return to Lab.

Reporters from each group give 2-3 min resume of findings.

12:00 Sandwich lunch

12:30 Presentation by Dr. Samuel Weiss (Pharmacology and Therapeutics)

Neurospheres: A Biotechnology Company Developed through Government/Private Sector/University Co-operation.

12:40 Participants move to break out rooms

Working Session #2 "What can the federal government do to foster a culture within which science and technology will flourish?"

13:35 Return to Lab.

Reporters from each group give 2-3 min resume of findings.

14:05 Participants move to break out rooms

Working Session #3 "How can we best use the knowledge generated by science and technology to enhance the quality of life for Canadians?"

15:00 Return to Lab.

Reporters from each group give 2-3 min resume of findings.

15:30 Plenary session. Discussion of improvements to process and possible initiatives for continuing consultation.

16:00 Concluding remarks by the Minister and the University.

16:30 Workshop closes


Federal Government Delegation

The Hon. Jon Gerrard P.C., MP

Georgine Ulmer (Industry Canada, Manager of Calgary Office)

Dr. Gordon Neish, Assistant Director Lethbridge Research Station, Agriculture Canada.

Ken Putt, representing IRAP

Carla Campbell, Public Relations: Industry Canada

Grant Kaiser, Natural Resources Canada


University of Calgary

Canadian Association of University Teachers

University of Lethbridge

Mount Royal College

Alberta Research Council

Dr. Aldo Dagnino

Main Conclusions of the S&T Workshop

Prepared by Peter Fitzgerald-Moore from a Tape Recording

(References to discussion groups, e.g. C&L-2 refers to Session 2 in the Coopers and Lybrand room. FS refers to individual speakers at the final wrap-up session)

Basic research should be publicly funded

There was some implied disagreement between those who spoke of untargeted basic research (implied in TM-1; explicit in TR-2); those who emphasized "building on strengths" and using the resource base as the basis of strategy (CS-1; BR-1; TU-2); those who thought research should be customer driven (BR-1) or market driven (TM-3).

Achieving a balance between Basic and Applied research funding is a major task of a S&T strategy (TM-1; C&L-1; BR-1; TU-1). At least one group (TM-2) thought that all applied research should be in the private sector, market driven and rewarded only by financial success.

Co-ordination and planning of federal and provincial research is needed

One suggestion was for a reformed (closer to its original mandate) NRC to undertake the federal-provincial role (C&L-1). A decision was needed on the relative roles of the University, the Federal Labs and the Provincial Research Councils. Was the sort of research being done in the Federal Labs always appropriate? (FS)(The Minister raised this point after session 1 and defended his position after session 2). There was a call for "eliminating waste in R&D" (FS) and "directing..funds to real need" (ibid).

It was desirable to develop a more symmetrical market in which the multiplicity of research providers was matched with at least a plurality of investors in the research process (C. Langford).

SMEs should collaborate through consortia to achieve [a critical mass of pre-competitive] research (C&L-1)

Measurement of research results

Allocation problems require data on relative research productivity and on the economic benefits of specific research projects (point raised by Minister).

Assessment standards should be periodically reviewed (CanSup-2). Knowledge will help to prioritize (CS-3).

It is important to take into account the secondary and tertiary benefits when evaluating research (FS)

Social and environmental risks

It is important that the public should be trained to accept risks (TU-3).

One speaker suggested the need for a programme for the study of impact assessment (FS). The Minister also referred to this problem in FS. Dr.Langford referred to measured versus perceived risk.

Technology Transfer

"Receptor Development" was recognized as an important factor. This means making SMEs aware of the opportunities afforded them by new technology. (TU-1).

Communication of research results to potential entrepreneurs needs to be improved. (C&L-1; BR-1; TU-1) The conflicting claims of pre-publication confidentiality are recognised. (C&L-1). CISTI and the Electronic Network need to be expanded (TU-2). Research data collected by government agencies and institutions need to be made more widely available (TU-2) International information especially needed (TU-2). Internet for schools (CWNG-2)

Technology is best transferrred through individuals and for that reason the NSERC Industrial Research Fellowships and IRAP Programmes should be continued and expanded.(CWNG-1). More university places for international students would further open up our community globally (TU-2).

Central body required in Alberta to co-ordinate and facilitate technology transfer: provide information on technology and sources of capital; facilitate strategic alliances; facilitate patenting. (CWNG-1)

Commercial prototypes and markets

Prototype development and market development as funded by the Heritage Fund is a good model to extend to other research fields.(C. Langford, Session 1). Overseas marketing initiatives should be subsidized (CWNG-2)

Capitalization of SMEs

Major problem. Ideas provide no collateral. Illustrates the fact that the total commercial package involves far more than R&D. (C&L-1)

Strategic intersectoral alliances are one way of capitalizing. (CWNG-1)


Tax incentives are needed (BR-2) and tax impediments to innovation should be removed (C&L-3)

Intellectual Property Rights

Problem in fast moving technologies. Answer is in strategic alliances (CWNG-1).

Government to protect intellectual property rights (SCS-2).

Apparently minority view (from TM-2) that university and federal labs should not profit from intellectual property rights in their inventions.

Training and Education

Training in entrepreneurship should start in elementary school and greater advantage should be taken of entrepreneurship programmes offered in the Faculty of Management. Business people and scientists should be involved in school curricula (CWNG-2).

Scientific evaluation of environmental controls requires scientifically literate public (CWNG-2). Likewise regulations should be based on thorough knowledge (C&L-3; CU-3)

Federal government could package educational material on science for use across the country (recommendation challenged in FS).

Science and Technology spokespersons are required in Canada (TU-3)

There is a special need to educate journalists and secondary school teachers. (FS)

Public information on Specific Projects

Part of the funds of every project should be earmarked for publicizing the results and its benefits in lay terms (BR-2)


In every possible situation, government intervention, whether to encourage by incentives or discourage by penalties, should be reduced to a minimum. The role of government is to educate and inform and thus to empower (TM-3; FS). Nothing is as empowering as doing something (Cooper Langford echoing Jim Gray).
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