Government of Canada takes action to protect Canadian research and intellectual property
New National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships will help protect Canadian science and research
July 12, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario
Canada’s researchers are world leaders; their scientific discoveries have been part of the solutions to the greatest challenges we have faced. World-class research is made possible by collaborative domestic and international partnerships between researchers, companies and research institutions. While remaining committed to preserving a collaborative and open approach to science and discovery, the Government of Canada is taking action to protect Canadian research and intellectual property against foreign interference, espionage and theft.
Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, released new National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships, developed in collaboration with the Government of Canada–Universities Working Group. The new guidelines will integrate national security considerations into the development, evaluation and funding of research partnerships.
The guidelines will be applied immediately as a mandatory element of federal research partnership funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Alliance Grants program for any application involving private sector partner organizations. Foreign not-for-profit and government organizations are already ineligible partners under this program. Applicants will be required to complete a risk assessment as an integral part of the grant application submitted to NSERC. The risk assessment and mitigation measures will be assessed by NSERC in consultation with national security agencies and departments on a case-by-case basis.
The government will work closely with NSERC and the Government of Canada–Universities Working Group, as well as with researchers, research institutions and other stakeholders, to evaluate the implementation of the guidelines for the Alliance Grants program. The government intends to expand the application of the guidelines to all granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation in the near term.
Canadian researchers—including those in government, academia and the private sector—should increase their vigilance to protect the security of their research and intellectual property. The new guidelines are another tool that all researchers can consult—in addition to the Safeguarding Your Research portal—for information on how to mitigate risks to research security. Researchers, research organizations and government all have a role to play in ensuring that Canadian research, knowledge and intellectual property are protected while continuing to advance the discoveries necessary for Canada to remain a global research and innovation leader.
“Canadian researchers are on the cutting edge of science, research and innovation, and we need to protect their world-class advancements. By requiring that risk assessments be submitted with research funding requests, these new mandatory guidelines will help protect Canadian research, knowledge and intellectual property. We will not take chances with Canada’s national and economic security. Projects that are deemed high risk, or where the risk cannot be mitigated, will not be funded.”
- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
“The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding our world-class research from foreign interference and espionage. This is a complex threat that targets our citizens, compromises our way of life and damages our economic prosperity. We will continue to work closely with Canada’s research and academic communities to ensure they have the tools they need to mitigate risks and threats.”
- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“Canada is a world leader in health research. The data, knowledge and technologies created by researchers working at universities and hospitals across the country are making Canadians’ lives better and are important to protect. These guidelines will ensure the research Canadians are doing is protected and secure, while providing guidance on how to safely share research information to advance scientific discovery.”
- The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
The federal granting councils (NSERC, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation administer research grants through independent peer review processes.
Safeguarding Science sessions and workshops, launched in 2016, raise awareness within Canada’s scientific and academic communities of the risks of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat proliferation; the potential for the proliferation of dual-use technology; cybersecurity; and best practices for maintaining a security-conscious research organization.
The Government of Canada–Universities Working Group was established in 2018 with a mandate to collaboratively identify, share and promote best practices for minimizing security risks and protecting Canadian research data and intellectual property.
The Safeguarding Your Research portal, launched in September 2020, provides information to the Canadian research community on how to safeguard their research and innovations.
In September 2020, the government released a Policy Statement on Research Security and COVID-19 calling on organizations, in particular those involved in COVID-19 research, to remain vigilant and alert to potential threats to research security.
In March 2021, the government issued a follow-up Research Security Policy Statement – Spring 2021 encouraging all members of the research community to take extra precautions to protect the security of their research, intellectual property and knowledge development and asking the Government of Canada–Universities Working Group to develop specific risk guidelines to integrate national security considerations into the evaluation and funding of research partnerships.
The Government of Canada has invested more than $13 billion in science and research since 2016.
Senior Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Public Safety Canada
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