CANADA: Research head orders focus on market drivers

There's radical change at the National Research Council, Canada's biggest science institute, as the new president orders all staff to direct research toward boosting economic development and technology, with less time for pure science, writes Tom Spears for the Ottawa Citizen.

Starting this spring, 20% of research money, and all the capital funds that buy expensive lab equipment, will be removed from existing budgets and directed where the president and vice-presidents choose. Eventually, 80% of research funds will be redirected this way. NRC president John McDougall has announced to all staff in a memo that he wants research that is "successfully deployed and used to benefit our customers and partners in industry and government".

The new system, with most funding awarded by top management, will put existing staff in a position of having to apply to their employer to keep doing their own work. So far, they aren't faring well: McDougall notes that his scientists have suggested more than 70 research areas. But most of these have no clear "market driver" or "purposeful direction", he writes. McDougall, a Calgary engineer and businessman, was appointed by the federal government to lead the NRC last April.
Full report on the Ottawa Citizen site