Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Susan, for getting us started and for that kind introduction.
I'd also like to acknowledge my colleague, Joe Preston, Member of Parliament for Elgin–Middlesex–London. Together, Susan, Joe and I are London's—and Western's—primary boosters in Ottawa.
It's a great pleasure to be here today at Western—it's good to be home. Thank you to Dr. John Capone, Vice-President (Research), and to Western for hosting us today.
London has a long tradition of scientific and business excellence, and Western lies at the heart of that enterprise.
As a top U15 research school, Western is home to 57 Canada Research Chairs, 1 Canada Excellence Research Chair and state-of-the-art facilities like the WindEEE Dome and the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre. It is a strong partner and good friend to this community.
As Susan mentioned, today is my 99th day as Minister of State for Science and Technology.
I've travelled the country and spent 99 days listening to Canadians—researchers, entrepreneurs, university administrators, members of think tanks, government officials, you name it—and here are the top three things I've learned.
First, collaboration and partnerships between business and academia are essential to improving Canadian innovation—moving ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace and addressing marketplace challenges in the laboratory are key to the long-term economic prosperity of Canadians.
Second, Canadian research continues to lead the world. I've seen exciting new developments from applying nanotechnology to environmental challenges to preventing the onset of Alzheimer's through regular exercise. Our quality of life directly benefits from research and discovery in science and technology.
And third, Canadian research is dependent on highly talented researchers who have the curiosity, passion and drive to undertake the hard work needed to make breakthrough discoveries.
I am fortunate to have inherited a portfolio in a government that has made historic investments in science, technology and innovation.
Canada leads the G7 countries in terms of R&D investment at our colleges and universities.
As a result, I am pleased to say that Canada has moved from a brain drain to a brain gain country over the last decade.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I am here today to announce our government's support for more than 3,500 researchers to pursue promising areas of research in a full range of fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics across Canada.
Our government's support will be allocated in two ways.
The first is through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's Discovery Grants Program, which is providing 2,031 researchers with the freedom and flexibility to pursue their most promising ideas.
The Discovery Grants Program provides long-term funding to researchers and is one of the largest sources of funding for discovery research in Canada.
The second is through a suite of scholarships and fellowships to support Canada's best graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. The awards provide the flexibility and independence these future research leaders need so they can develop their full potential.
What's more, researchers with Discovery Grants use a significant part of their funding to recruit and retain top-notch graduate students from across the country and around the world.
Here at Western University, 134 researchers and students will share $15 million in awards. This includes Dr. Ana Luisa Trejos who is receiving a Discovery Grant to develop smart wearable technology devices to help Canadians suffering from chronic pain.
Dr. Trejos is developing braces that blend mechanics and electronics to reduce ongoing pain from repetitive motion activities. The braces are smart devices that monitor muscles and act like digital physiotherapists—recording data, sending it to health care providers and adjusting physiotherapy as required.
Many of you here probably know someone who is touched in some way by chronic pain from debilitating muscle conditions like tendinitis or arthritis. This is the kind of technology that could revolutionize health care processes.
Congratulations to Dr. Trejos, her team and all of Western's recipients.
Ladies and gentlemen, ensuring that Canada develops, attracts and retains top research talent is a key component of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to Canadian science and technology.
As Economic Action Plan 2014 demonstrates, our government's investments are positioning Canadians to seize the moment:
- We created the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, a $1.5-billion legacy investment to ensure that Canada's post-secondary research institutions remain world leading over the next decade.
- We provided the largest increase to the granting councils in a decade to ensure our researchers continue their groundbreaking research.
- And we committed to creating a social innovation fund that will partner community organizations with colleges to address our most pressing social challenges.
What's more, we are working on a renewed science, technology and innovation strategy, a long-term plan to position Canada as a globally recognized leader in research and business innovation.
In closing, I would like to congratulate Western University and all of today's Discovery Grant, scholarship and fellowship recipients. On behalf of Prime Minister Harper, I wish you the best and look forward to hearing about your progress in the months and years to come.