Government tightens foreign research collaboration rules

The Canadian government joined a push by Western governments to tighten up security on research collaborations that could leak secrets to China or other countries deemed a security risk, writes Richard L Hudson for Science|Business.

A new policy, announced on 12 July, would require Canadian researchers to start including a security risk-assessment form with certain grant applications involving collaboration with foreign companies. The government said it will reject the application if, “in consultation with” Canadian intelligence services, it finds a security risk. It highlighted as especially sensitive a wide range of emerging technologies, including quantum computing, aerospace and artificial intelligence.

The government didn’t name China as a target; but work on the policy began in 2018 as Western concern mounted about incorporating Chinese technology in next-generation 5G mobile phone networks. Since then, according to a 2020 government intelligence report, foreign espionage has “especially” targeted Canadian universities. And police are currently investigating two scientists dismissed by the University of Manitoba amid reports that they had shared sensitive DNA samples with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, the lab at the centre of investigations over the origins of COVID-19.
Full report on the Science|Business site