December 4, 2014
TORONTO, ON — The University of Toronto and other leading Canadian universities will be better equipped to compete globally, thanks to the newly-launched $1.5 billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), says University of Toronto President Meric Gertler.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled details of the fund December 4; it will initially offer $50 million for Canadian university research in 2015, growing to $200 million annually.
“The Canada First Research Excellence Fund will enable Canada’s leading institutions of advanced research to compete, and win, on the global stage,” Gertler said, as he thanked the prime minister. “Building this capacity is crucial in fostering the culture of innovation we need, to create good jobs and long-term prosperity. Today’s research excellence leads to tomorrow’s discoveries, from which new products and services, new jobs, and even entirely new industries will emerge.”
Gertler spoke on behalf of Canadian university leaders at the ceremony. He singled out his immediate predecessor as U of T president, David Naylor, and other university leaders for the “creativity and dedication” that was crucial in bringing about the CFREF.
The University of Toronto has a long tradition of research, and counts 10 Nobel Prizes among U of T faculty and alumni. Today research at U of T spans three campuses and nine partner hospitals. In 2012-13 U of T was awarded $1.3 billion in research funds, and U of T faculty published more than their colleagues at any university in the world, other than Harvard. U of T also boasts the highest number of Canada Research Chairs in the country, as well as the greatest share of Tri-Council and CFI funding.
CFREF funding will help U of T researchers to reach even greater heights, Gertler said. “Now the government has taken a big, bold step forward. The Canada First Research Excellence Fund is not only a major breakthrough in public policy – it represents a new horizon for breakthroughs in cutting-edge research, leading to a better quality of life for all Canadians, for generations to come.”
Harper spoke of how Canadian researchers have been “expanding the boundaries of knowledge for generations,” including among his examples breakthroughs from U of T such as the discovery of insulin, the development of the artificial pacemaker, the identification of stem cells and the development of IMAX movies.
“Canada’s ability to attract top talent and research partnerships requires its world-class institutions to have the ability to seize emerging opportunities on the global stage by capitalizing on their proven strengths,” said Harper. “The Fund will enable research that creates jobs, opportunities and the prosperity of Canadians for years to come from coast to coast to coast.”
The fund will be administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in collaboration with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The inaugural competition will see Canadian post-secondary institutions vying for research funding over seven years, according to the federal government. Grants will be awarded on a peer-reviewed basis, factoring in scientific merit, strategic relevance to Canada (including the potential for the research area to create long-term economic advantages for Canada), and quality of implementation plan.
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