I was having a chat with a physicist a few weeks ago about science policy and then , voila, I found an article about it in Backbone Magazine a week later. It’s called “The Research Race” and as you might expect, we do well in some things and not so well in others. The overall tone is alarmist.
According to the article even though Canada has gone from 15th to 13th place according to OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) statistics which measure performance based on investment in R & D (research and development) as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) we have a problem. Of course, our ratio has remained flat and that must mean the reason we rose was because other countries had decreased their investment. In other words, our ranking rose despite our lack of added effort. The weird thing is that the writer doesn’t point this out explicitly when it would reinforce the points being made further on. (Aside: I’ve had this happen when I’m writing about something new to me. It’s so easy to miss that sort of linking thought when you’re processing a lot of new information and trying to write it up under a deadline.)
The point being driven home is that we need a comprehensive strategy that supports science and technology with a view to commercialization. Let’s not forget, BackBone is distributed with the Globe and Mail and that newspaper’s main focus has always been business so the conclusion is no surprise. For details and charts, the article is here.
The article also notes that the federal government does have a strategy document called, “Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage.” The summary, pamphlet, and full report are here. I’ll be writing about that tomorrow.