Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Message from the President of NSERC:
Economic Action Plan 2012

As you are aware, the Government of Canada recently released the 2012 federal budget. This budget contains a number of items pertinent to the natural sciences and engineering research community.

The budget announces a $15 million ongoing increase to NSERC's base budget, in support of the Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation. It also announces $12 million per year in ongoing funding to make the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program permanent, which represents an exciting opportunity for striking new partnerships with the private sector.

The budget also provisions $500 million over five years for the Canada Foundation for Innovation to address pressing infrastructure needs; $17 million in new funding over two years for medical isotopes to build on the success of joint NSERC-Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)-funded research; $14 million in new funding over two years to double the Industrial Research and Development Internship program; and $60 million in funding for Genome Canada for genomics projects. These investments highlight the Government of Canada's strong support and endorsement of natural sciences and engineering research. Such investments effectively increase the pool of grants and awards available to the community to pursue research in these fields.

In the spirit of the Government of Canada's spending review, NSERC examined all its activities and investments with a view to streamlining operations and ensuring maximum efficiencies. The budget announces total reductions for NSERC of $15 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year and $30 million thereafter. However, these measures explicitly spare critical programs such as the Discovery Grants Program, and scholarships and fellowships programs. As stated in Economic Action Plan 2012, under the Industry Portfolio section (page 271), “Organizations within the portfolio related to science and technology (the National Research Council Canada and two of the three federal granting councils) have ensured that programming in support of basic research, student scholarships, and industry-related research initiatives and collaborations are preserved.” (A similar statement appears on page 268 relating to CIHR.) In preserving NSERC's grants and awards budget, the Government of Canada has signalled that these are core functions of NSERC and will remain so.

NSERC will continue to ensure that Canada’s best researchers and top students have the resources to succeed, to maximize the value of public investments and to increase Canada’s competitiveness at a global level. In addition, NSERC remains committed to ensuring that the Government of Canada’s research investments achieve the highest possible impact for Canada. I welcome continued dialogue and exchange with the research community as we move forward.

Suzanne Fortier
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada