Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered the 2014 federal budget yesterday afternoon and confirmed that the federal government is once again keen on funding innovation and research for Canadians in 2014.
While there was very little mention of the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program in the update, there was a new fund introduced that will provide a substantial investment for university-based research programs.
New Canada First Research Excellence Fund
The most significant update for post-secondary researchers is the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund. Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes “$1.5 billion in funding over the next decade to help Canadian post-secondary institutions excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.”
The $1.5B funding breakdown looks like this:
-$50 million in 2015–2016
-$100 million in 2016–2017
-$150 million in 2017– 2018
-$200 million annually by 2018-2019 and beyond
According to David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba and chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada,
“This is a pivotal moment for research excellence and innovation in Canada. The establishment of an ambitious new research excellence fund, coupled with the commitment of enhanced funding in discovery research through the federal granting councils, represent a catalytic investment. This shows that the government is taking a strategic approach to creating prosperity in Canada, and recognizes that a vibrant, innovative and competitive Canadian economy needs a world-class research system.”
Any Changes to the SR&ED Program?
Despite suspicions that the budget announcement may have introduced additional cuts and changes to the SR&ED program, no legislative changes have been proposed for this fiscal year. Concerns arose last December when Tom Jenkins, panel chair for the Review of Federal Support to R&D, was appointed to National Research Council of Canada’s advisory board. For those who aren’t aware, Jenkins urged Ottawa to update the SR&ED program in 2011 as he believed “that SR&ED is far too complicated and isn’t generating enough R&D for the billions spent.”
In the 2013 budget, there was an entire chapter devoted to increasing provisions for innovative startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Many of the changes introduced last year have already taken effect as of January 1, 2014. (For a list of recent changes, please read “5 SR&ED Updates You Need to Know for 2014”)
Moving forward, the $3.6B from the annual innovation funding pool for the SR&ED program will remain strong and continue to fund Canadian innovation.
More Direct Funding to Support Canadian Innovation:
In addition to the Canada Research Excellence Fund and consistent funding for the SR&ED program, the following updates were announced (taken directly from the budget itself):
-$8 million over two years to Mitacs to expand its support for industrial research and training of postdoctoral fellows.
-$10 million over two years in support of social innovation research projects at colleges and polytechnics.
-$222 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to the TRIUMF physics laboratory to support the facility’s world-leading research and international partnership activities.
-$3 million over three years to the Canadian Digital Media Network for the creation of the Open Data Institute, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
-New funding of $46 million per year for the granting councils to support advanced research and scientific discoveries, including the indirect costs of research.
-Providing an additional $500 million over two years to the Automotive Innovation Fund, to support significant new strategic research and development projects and long-term investments in the Canadian automotive sector.
Overall, the 2014 budget commits to driving innovation and entrepreneurship and supporting advanced research. Canada is a highly supported entrepreneurial culture that will continue to innovate and compete on the global landscape!
Originally published in Calgary Herald Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014.
Additional Resources & Sources:
The Road To Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities (2014 Federal Budget): https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1017359/budget-2014-eng.pdf