The federal government gave researchers across the country a Valentine’s gift last Thursday with the announcement of $163 million in new funding to establish 11 new “Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research.” The centres are to pursue major discoveries and work to bring them to customers over the next five years.
Some of the projects being funded include a Bioindustrial Innovation Centre, the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer(IRIC)/CECR in Therapeutics Discovery, and Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise.
The Bioindustrial Centre will create better biofuels to replace oil-based produces. IRIC/CECR is working towards the development of new targeted cancer therapies along with the biopharmaceutical industry. The Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise will work on improving old and creating new vaccines. Each of these centres will receive almost $15 million.
Not everyone is happy with the announcement. The Canadian Federation of Students says the awarding of federal funding to these projects is “not only inappropriate, but stifles real innovation.” According to the CFS, the goal of commercialization of research harms the goal of advancing research.
“Innovation is stifled when you have the federal government and big business looking over your shoulder demanding results for the next fiscal quarter,” said Graham Cox, chairperson of the National Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students.
The CFS is concerned that the recent funding adds to what it sees has an imbalance in the current research goals of government and universities. They feel that too much of the current funds for research are being directed to science, medical, and engineering research without comparable funding for the liberal arts.