Remi Quirion – Inaugural Chief Scientist of Quebec and the President of the three Board of Directors, Fonds de recherche du Québec and President Elect of INGSA
Mamokgethi Phakeng – Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town
Ruth Morgan – Vice Dean (Interdisciplinarity Entrepreneurship), UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences Professor of Crime and Forensic Science, UCL Department of Security and Crime Science
Caroline Wagner – Faculty member, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, Ohio State, US
Moderator: Jean-Claude Burgelman – Professor of Open Science Policies and Practices, Free University of Brussels, Editor in Chief, Frontiers Policy Lab
Context: The panel presented and discussed the results of a series of interviews with selected science advisors, experts and policy makers conducted in the frame of Frontiers Policy Labs during the timeframe 2020/2021. Our qualitative research addressed questions, including: how to change the world with Science? What can we learn from COVID-19 on why the world was not better prepared and how the science system as it was set up globally pre-COVID contributed to the failures/successes observed? Panelists discussed real-world solutions to these system failures and how to avoid them in future health or other crises.
This research initiative aimed to hear from policy makers to understand how they receive science information in order to meet the goal of providing meaningful input to policy makers. The interviews outlined the types of essential scientific knowledge needed by policymakers to better address global emergencies, the optimal way to present this data and which disciplines lack proper data.
Advisory processes can still benefit from being far more inclusive in terms of discipline, race, class and career or educational background.
Strategy comes from conversation, not necessarily knowledge. Distilling the information and simplifying concepts in a way that is audience-appropriate is a highly intellectually challenging task.
Scientific input is a small piece of the decision making process. Good practices include using evidence to inform decisions, providing explanations for provisional/interim decisions, putting tested and trusted metrics in place, and understanding and underlining limitations and areas of uncertainty.
Global problems require enhanced communication. Precise communication channels need to be built in order to truly balance cooperation with competition. Bilateral relationships are a great way to set this up on a smaller scale.
In order to fuel scientific growth, federal agents, researchers, independent consultants/advisors and the general public must remain in conversation
Scientists must be engaged in areas beyond the lab to create practical and timely solutions.
The scientific process and validity of data must be explained to the average citizen to restore public trust in science and scientific advisors.
Most of our global problems will necessitate better science policy. Facilitating this involves a strong conversational and collaborative element. Conversations should be open-ended, fluid, and involve exchange on an ongoing and longitudinal basis. Diplomatic relationships require investment over long periods of time.
More scientific data is needed to develop and implement the correct policies. Input from the fields of economics, global relations and affairs are crucial to policy growth and adherence.
Catalina Lopez-Correa – Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, CanCOGeN
John Bell – Senior Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Sarah Bennett – Commander, United States Public Health Service
Yujin Jeong – Director for International Affairs, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency
Michael G. Baker – Professor of Public Health, Department of Public Health, University of Otago
Cecile Viboud – Senior Staff Scientist, Fogarty International Center
Moderator: Pascal Michel – Chief Science Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada
Context: This moderated panel brought together presentations by scientists, researchers, and decision-makers of national and international caliber to discuss, debate, and identify opportunities for post-pandemic recovery in Canada. The world is facing an extraordinary multidimensional crisis that demands innovative science-informed strategic responses. While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic over a year ago, COVID-19 infection and death rates are still accelerating in many parts of the world. In response to the emerging trends in COVID-19 pandemic, countries are exploring targeted and strategic responses to proactively address the COVID-19 outbreaks, rather than taking a reactive approach and implementing nationwide “lockdowns”. This panel explored the strategic measures that have either worked to flatten the COVID-19 curve among various countries or become essential to consider for post-pandemic recovery. The panelists discussed the “critical pivot points”: where and how scientific innovations and coherent strategic decisions can best focus with coherent contributions from the public, private, and academia to support a transition towards more equitable, sustainable, and resilient futures in Canada.
Ending the COVID-19 pandemic requires a global response, including support for resource-poor nations in scaling up vaccine implementation, detecting and responding to new SARS-CoV-2 variants, laboratory sequencing and surveillance, modelling, and providing guidance to inform public health policy.
Different countries have had different strategies for viral containment during the pandemic. It is important to learn from each other’s successes and failures and move towards better policy and better public health outcomes. More effective communication between countries, organizations and sectors would have helped facilitate better responses and quicker adjustments to new information and viral variants of concern.
Modelling data is crucial to the pandemic response, but all models have their limitations. It is important to produce useful data that can inform public health policy.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that sequencing capacity and open access data sharing are crucial for the delivery of life-saving healthcare.
It is not enough to respond to inequities; we need to address the larger institutional and structural systems at play that create inequities.
There is a critical need for global public health leadership and coordination which can help address equity in vaccine production and distribution, prepare for future outbreaks, and strengthen the authority and financing of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Experts and public health agencies need to communicate more effectively with the public and position themselves as the source for information during the pandemic.
National biomanufacturing capacity is essential to preparedness for future healthcare crises. This includes building a full biomanufacturing and life sciences ecosystem with the flexibility to support a diverse portfolio of technologies.
A network approach is essential to enhance connectivity across sectors and stakeholders in academia, healthcare, industry and government. Leverage existing expertise and support fundamental research and high qualified personnel.
Organized by: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
César Augusto Ugarte-Gil – School of Medicine, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia; Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Camila González-Rosas – Biological Sciences Department, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de Los Andes
Carmen Logie – Associate Professor/Ph.D., Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto; Canada Research Chair, Global Health Equity and Social Justice with Marginalized Populations
Peter A. Newman – Professor/Ph.D., Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
Robert Hakiza – Executive Director, Young African Refugees For Integral Development
Moderator: Dominique Charron – Vice-President, Programs and Partnerships, International Development Research Centre
Context: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has been at the forefront of funding and supporting international collaboration in research. From testing capacity and accuracy to effective public health communication, global efforts to combat the negative effects of the pandemic on vulnerable populations have resulted in new understandings and important lessons learned.
This panel featured presentations from both Canadian and international members of collaborative research teams on the results of their projects and the implications of their experiences on the role of collaboration in the future of COVID-19 and beyond.
It is crucial to understand the ways in which COVID-19 has disproportionately affected vulnerable groups in order to develop an effective response.
There is no gold standard of COVID analysis – we are constantly working to develop new and better ways to obtain information, and international collaboration is invaluable to this process.
International collaboration during the pandemic has helped us learn how these new solutions can be applied to existing problems in innovative ways.
The diversity of specialities within partnerships provides teams with the necessary tools to approach issues.
Access to technology can be a barrier, but workarounds exist, for example, utilizing text messaging in Uganda to disseminate information on proper mask wearing practices.
International partnerships help promote global equality amongst researchers and citizens. It should not be thought of as the North helping the South or vice versa, but rather as equals working together towards a common goal.
Continue to explore how international partnerships can contribute to the acquisition of more cohesive knowledge and more effective policy initiatives.
Utilize the knowledge and experience of researchers working on the ground at the source of the issue.
Adapt existing solutions so that they can be used to solve new problems.
Ensure interventions are culturally competent and tailored to the context of the location by utilizing expertise of members of the community in question.
Promote the integration of senior and junior researchers within teams, as they can both provide unique skill sets that promote better research.
Research efforts must leave local groups stronger than before the research began.
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic painfully highlighted the gaps in Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity. In response, the Federal Government has made key investments to build up Canadian capacity. While these investments are essential, building structures in which to carry out GMP biomanufacturing are only one part of a very complex equation. The 2021 Biomanufacturing and Life Science Strategy recognizes this complexity and proposes a ‘strong coordinated structure for biomanufacturing and life science’ to maximize benefit to Canadians. The panel discussed an ecosystem approach focused on how to build and sustain a robust, interconnected biomanufacturing ecosystem with built-in resiliency and future pandemic readiness.
The life sciences ecosystem consists of both discovery and value creation. Canada excels at discovery, but has issues with anchoring companies within the country, which makes it difficult to maximize value through Canadian job creation and exports.
Each part of the innovation ecosystem is critical. Supporting the entire system will ensure its success and allow best practices to be shared.
Crosstalk between government, industry and academia is crucial to spur innovation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant investments in Canadian life science companies and infrastructure. It is crucial to maintain this momentum and build long-term sustainability to tackle other major health challenges.
The government can act as a catalyst to help new companies attract investments.
Initiating manufacturing for the life sciences is complex and costly, requiring substantial initial support. Investment is needed to bring biomanufacturing capacity to a level where it can be self-sustaining.
Increase overall life sciences funding and ensure it supports each part of the ecosystem, from discovery to commercialization.
Establish a network of private, public and academic stakeholders in the life sciences to encourage coordination.
Develop bold and long-term policies to invest in Canadian life sciences and define accountability measures for a successful implementation of the 2021 Biomanufacturing and Life Science Strategy
Nurture homegrown talent and create opportunities for hands-on training for biomanufacturing jobs.
Invest in innovative new therapies which are more affordable and less damaging to patients (this will allow people to more easily re-enter the workforce after they have encountered health issues).
Susan Blum – Associate Vice President, Applied Research and Innovation, Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Lauren Manekin Beille – Department Head, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Yukon University
Daniel Genier – Director, Business Development, Mitacs/CICan
Moderator: Jeffrey Taylor – Associate Vice President, Applied Research and Innovation, Nova Scotia Community College
Context: Technology and social innovation are needed for a progressive economic post-COVID recovery. Integrated models of collaboration within various sectors are key to deliver innovative results for economic growth. The college and polytechnic sector are the nexus of such collaborations with industry and community as well as higher education and government. Ecosystem hubs evolve regionally around colleges/polytechnics and inform the development of an industry driven innovation network for Canada. This sector builds together partners from industry, community, higher education, and government in order to turn ideas into successful products, processes or services in the marketplace. Collectively, college and polytechnic activities span the whole innovation chain. Specifically, this sector can support start-ups, entrepreneurship, SMEs and multinationals. As part of “building back” post-COVID, the college/polytechnic sector is well positioned to serve the start-up sector. In addition, the nature of the applied research and innovative deliverables, along with open intellectual property policies, cater directly to industry progression. These strategies of integrated collaboration for applied research, development and innovation strive to meet the challenges of economic recovery in a post-pandemic world. Panelists discussed examples from across the country and various sectors that interconnect with the college and polytechnic sector.
Industry, academia, investors and funders are all key to driving innovation and entrepreneurship within Canada’s innovation ecosystem. Canadian colleges and polytechnics are also key players in this ecosystem, providing industry and community with leading edge applied research capabilities, talent and funding.
Students involved in research projects get to apply their academic learning and develop essential skills; they are often hired by industry partners upon graduation to continue R&D activities and implement the outcomes.
Applied research increases and supports innovation, accelerates adoption of new technologies, increases productivity and competitiveness, enhances efficiency, contributes to the social and economic well-being of communities, supports community economic development and allows companies to ‘’test drive’’ potential future employees.
Rigid work-integrated learning (WiL) requirements restrict the ability to expand student engagement in applied research. Simplified and standardized WiL models can make applied research more accessible to both industry/community partners and students.
Most funding programs focus on the potential for commercialization and economic contributions. As such, the majority of projects focus on product development and process improvement.
Students benefit from applied research activity in multiple ways, from applying their learning to real-life projects, to developing their essential skills under the mentorship of faculty and college researchers, networking with prospective employees, and more.
Businesses across all sectors need to innovate their products, processes, services, work environments and possibly even business models to have a chance of survival, and societies need to innovate to ensure robust, healthy communities.
Promote collaborative partnerships that are organized around a particular problem, question or application and ensure that they are industry and user driven to provide access to expertise, talent, facilities, etc.
There needs to be a broader definition of what a research partner is to ensure that colleges and polytechnics can meaningfully engage with start-ups, spin-offs, nonprofit organizations, healthcare centres, conservation authorities, and other community groups.
Focus on the current reality and future needs, including those of rural communities and First Nations populations which will inform the development of our future-facing solutions.
Enable more organizations to innovate and thrive with support from colleges and polytechnics through programs and policies leading to more inclusive considerations of applied research outcomes.
Take a holistic approach to stakeholder engagement. Encourage colleges to communicate with communities and share their impact.
Proceedings prepared by Maïa Dakessian and Anne Ballantyne
Catalina Lopez-Correa – Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, CanCOGeN
Yann Joly – Research Director, McGill University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics
Sue Hill – Chief Scientific Officer, England
Genya Dana – Head of Healthcare, World Economic Forum
Moderator: Naveed Aziz – Chief Executive Officer, CGEn
Context: The sequencing of genomic information has directly informed the public health response to COVID-19, resulting in public health policies governing variants of concern, border closures, and vaccination strategies, among others. The sharing and secure access to data has proved essential in mitigating the spread of the virus. While genomics and large-scale data sharing has helped monitor and control COVID-19, ethical and social issues must be considered such as equitable access, privacy, legal and ethical frameworks, public trust, and interoperability of data. How can Canada foster a robust data ecosystem that addresses these considerations, and how can genomics data be further leveraged to address the pandemic and future public health emergencies?
Genomics and sequencing data have directly impacted the public health response to COVID-19 by assisting in the tracking and modelling of variants, setting of surveillance levels, and instituting mitigation measures such as border control policies and lockdowns.
Data sharing is critical to being able to effectively use genomics to address the pandemic and future public health concerns. This can include data sharing across provincial and international borders, as well as with public health partners outside of government and private actors.
The data sharing ecosystem, in Canada and internationally, is diverse. Challenges to data sharing include differing regulations across jurisdictions, lack of technical infrastructure and lack of trust between actors.
Sequencing, collection of genomic data, and capacity building must happen globally in order to effectively control the pandemic. Currently, only a few nations have sufficient capacity and access to sequencing materials.
Within Canada, many communities are underrepresented in genomic data collection. Genomic data must be diverse to ensure that any findings originating from that data are applicable to the general population.
Genomics has the power to be applied holistically, looking at the interactions between the environment, pathogens and human health.
Genomics can be used in the future to better connect various pathogens to human health outcomes.
More attention should be given to equity, diversity and inclusion concerns, both on an international capacity building scale and a data collection scale.
In Canada, decision makers must work with community leaders to include underrepresented and hesitant populations, including Indigenous communities.
Data sharing must enable access to genomic data for important actors, while respecting security, privacy and trust concerns. Collaboration and coordination between all the relevant actors is critical. All stakeholders must come to an agreement over the importance of data sharing.
More concrete connections must be made between investment in capacity building and data sharing. Decision makers can request timelines for data sharing and set concrete milestones and standards for the type and volume of data shared.
Quality of the sequencing outcomes must be improved. A data standard must be established, including a minimum data set. Include vaccination status, antibody status, first infection or reinfection and human health outcomes of previous infection and therapeutics.
Irfan Dhalla – Vice-president and general internist, Unity Health Toronto
Joanne Langley – Professor and Head of the Infectious Diseases Division, Dalhousie University
Caroline Colijn – Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health at Simon Fraser University
Moderator: André Picard – Author and Journalist, Health Columnist, The Globe and Mail
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has generated unprecedented interest in science. From decision makers seeking evidence-based policy advice to the extensive media coverage of vaccine research, science has become widely recognized as critical to informed decision making. Among those at the frontline of understanding and conveying the latest research findings are the experts who contributed to the Chief Science Advisor’s COVID-19 panel, many of whom have become regular go-to media authorities.
In this discussion, we heard from some of these leading experts about effectively providing advice during a national emergency, as well as how to best communicate scientific information when talking to the media. They shared their experiences and lessons learned in breaking down the latest research and communicating to a public that is becoming increasingly interested in scientific evidence. Specific topics addressed included continued efforts to build more widespread trust in science, communicating with different audiences from policy makers to the public at large, and where we go from here in creating a science-literate society for the future.
Communication of science is crucial during a global pandemic to ensure that the public understands the ongoing health threat and the measures required to stay safe. There were successes and failures in how Canadian public health agencies and experts communicated during the pandemic, and lessons to be learned moving forward.
While Canada was successful in communicating the importance of science, the effectiveness of vaccines, and the importance of collective action, we could have done a better job explaining the uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic was and continues to be a dynamic situation and advice has changed with new data and information.
Underestimating the general public doesn’t serve us well. We need to be transparent about knowns and unknowns and recognize that people do have the capacity to understand the complexity and nuance of the situation.
The pandemic has shown that, while science is the same everywhere, the advice and policies generated from this information can vary and result in a patchwork of policies across the country with varying levels of effectiveness.
Communicate the scientific method to the public and promote the idea that science is a continuous learning process. This needs to start at a young age and should be reflected in the science curriculum through problem-based, multidisciplinary learning.
The creation of a science advisory system that can serve the entire country in evidence-based decision-making would be in the best interest of all Canadians.
We need to better communicate the difference between the evidence itself and the interpretation of evidence. While there are disagreements and healthy debate among scientists, there is unanimous consensus on the vast majority of issues and nuance in how different experts may choose to approach them.
Scientists need to be supported with professional communication and media training. These skills need to be taken seriously and valued by institutions. Knowledge translation and dissemination are essential components of being a scientist and should be a part of basic scientific training.
Lisa Kalynchuk – Vice-President Research and Innovation, University of Victoria
Sarah Doyle – Chief of Staff, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
Jennifer Gardy – Deputy Director Surveillance, Data & Epidemiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Moderator: Ryan Phillipe – Director of Corporate Development, Genome Canada
Context: What is mission-driven research, and how can a mission framework for investment in research and innovation optimize impact on national challenges? This panel brought together experts in mission-driven investments, forward-looking leaders, and strategists in high-risk high-reward science and innovation systems. The discussion focused on the mission-driven approach, its structural elements, and wide-ranging societal benefits for Canada. Panelists shared their experiences in mission-oriented approach and how to put it in practice in various settings.
A mission-driven approach involves setting a clear, ambitious, inspiring and achievable goal. The mission should maximize the value of public investment to achieve positive social and economic outcomes.
A mission-driven approach is operated on a 5–10 year strategic cycle. It starts with the desired impact (the goal) and then works backwards to conceptualize the practical steps needed to get there while fostering partnerships across different sectors, actors, and industries.
The University of Victoria has a strategic plan called Aspiration 2030. The plan encourages researchers, staff, and students to work with local municipalities, start-ups and Indigenous communities to discuss challenges they experience and how researchers can help, thus bridging the science to society disconnect.
Working with a community can take time because it’s important to build trust and relationships. Evaluation practices should be updated so that researchers don’t feel too rushed when building community connections.
Equity must be factored into how the mission is defined. It can be the mission itself, it can be how the mission is executed, or it can be both.
Diverse community engagement is a critical driver in success. Include communities as part of the project team, share space with them and gain perspectives and insight from a diverse set of voices.
Those with privilege must reach out to equity deserving groups and put them at the lead to ensure their voice will be heard and valued. Actively seek out equity, diversity and inclusion and make that space possible.
Be intentional and deep in community engagement to address as many issues as possible. Talk to impacted and equity deserving members of the community.
Take the time to build trust and relationships with communities and problem-solve together. Do not rush to problem-solve before understanding the context of the problems within the community.
In innovation challenges, there is a need for support for organizations, companies, and researchers. Ensure funding is allocated for small seed awards and long-term investments.
Claudia I. Emerson – Founding Director of the Institute on Ethics & Policy for Innovation at McMaster University, Canada, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, and Associate Member in the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Nancy Hamzawi – Acting Federal Lead, Covid-19 Testing, Contact Tracing and Data Management Strategies at Health Canada
Pascal Michel – Chief Science Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada
Ursula Gobel – Vice-President, Stakeholder Engagement and Advancement of Society, Humanities Research Council
Moderator: Sandra Lapointe – Professor of Philosophy, McMaster University
Context: Addressing pandemics and biological threats requires a coordinated research and development effort for the testing of novel treatments, vaccines, and diagnostic tools. In parallel, it is important to identify and address the associated human, social, economic and ethical challenges, opportunities and risks. All rely on data-driven evidence, crucial in informing decision-makers who design and implement pandemic plans, protocols and actions both during crises and in their aftermath.
How can we ensure that social science and humanities (SSH) knowledge and expertise is effectively mobilized to support these efforts? What does postgraduate training look like to foster the relevant collaborative skills in interdisciplinary settings? How can we support diversity, collaboration and creativity as key components of both technological and social innovation, critical to building resilient communities at home and around the world?
There needs to be a focus on not only mobilizing, but also integrating social sciences and humanities. SSH are critical to community engagement and multidisciplinary studies.
There are continuing equity issues with vaccine and testing distribution across Canada. Addressing this requires a SSH perspective.
The pandemic has highlighted areas of SSH that must be further developed and utilized to properly address global challenges.
Suggesting preventative behaviours is the best way to handle an epidemic. The shifting of cultural relationships, attitudes, and behaviours goes beyond scientific intelligence.
Knowledge mobilization principles include interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, cross sector collaboration and student engagement and teaching.
Social science and humanities scholars should engage with communities to bridge gaps so that they can properly contribute to healthcare solutions. This will support our future with integrated and holistic solutions towards the global problems of today.
Capitalize on multidisciplinary studies. Respect a diversity of methodologies and knowledge systems (e.g., Indigenous knowledge systems) to accelerate traction and interest within communities and encourage participation in building solutions.
Scientists need to work more collaboratively to ensure global uptake of solutions.
Bring scholars from a wide variety of fields to the table. Prepare talent to integrate into critical endeavours and contribute to solutions.
Social science and humanities researchers should be considered core stakeholders in scientific research to better understand the ethical, social and cultural aspects of innovations.
Capture more perspectives within policy and ensure that social sciences and humanities have a role.
Organized by: Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada
Mona Nemer – Chief Science Advisor, Government of Canada
Sir Patrick Vallance – Government Chief Scientific Adviser, and Head of Government Science and Engineering, UK
Michinari Hamaguchi – President, Japan Science and Technology Agency
Kei Koizumi – Principal Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Signe Ratso – Deputy Director-General, Research and Innovation, European Commission
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of science in tackling crises and societal challenges. For many governments, the pandemic was also a reminder of the central role that science and technology should have in realizing a sustainable recovery, defining and leveraging strategic advantages, and forging critical alliances in a rapidly changing global landscape. This panel brought together leaders from economies who have put science and technology at the heart of their post-pandemic recovery plans and strategically positioned themselves for a greener, safer and more prosperous future. The panel discussed various steps taken by governments to increase collaboration between different agencies and increase science-based policy-making as well as available funding for fundamental science.
Governments in the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and the UK have increased investments in fundamental science and research during the pandemic.
The pandemic has increased the involvement of external collaborators such as experts and scientists in policy-making and implementation. The pandemic has put science at the heart of government and policy making.
The UK Government has established the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), an external group that provides detailed expert advice to a committee which consolidates it and presents the advice to the government.
The US government launched the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to attempt to resolve the inequities in the public healthcare system.
Having a long-term commitment by governments towards science and technology projects/frameworks is difficult, as governments are often more focused on short-term political goals and priorities.
Lessons and experiences from the pandemic can be used to solve other global problems such as climate emergencies, as well as prepare for future pandemics and biological threats.
Collaborate internationally on a mission to have vaccines and therapeutics available within 100 days of outbreaks being identified in future pandemics.
Collaboration between national governments will be necessary to solve long-term challenges such as climate change, pandemic recovery, etc.
Organized by: CRCC Secretariat and CRCC member organizations
Moderator: Alejandro Adem, CRCC Chair and President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Ted Hewitt—CRCC Vice-Chair and President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Simon Kennedy—Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)
Lakshmi Krishnan—Vice-President of Life Sciences (acting), National Research Council of Canada (NRC)
Stephen Lucas—Deputy Minister, Health Canada
Roseann O’Reilly Runte—President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
Sarah Viehbeck—Associate Vice-President, Research Programs – Strategy, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
About the CRCC
The CRCC advances federal research priorities and the coordination of policies and programs of Canada’s federal research funding agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). It provides a senior strategic forum for sharing information, building consensus and making decisions on forward-looking initiatives that strengthen Canada’s research enterprise.
The committee brings together the presidents of the federal research funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) and CFI, the president of the National Research Council of Canada, the Deputy Minister of ISED, the Deputy Minister of Health Canada and Canada’s Chief Science Advisor.
The CRCC was created in October 2017.
Context: Over the last year, members of the CRCC worked closely together to address COVID-19, and sustain the research community, while still moving forward on key priorities that will help build a stronger research community. Executives from the CRCC discussed their individual and their collective efforts to address the impacts of the pandemic, mitigate the challenges faced by the research community and build back better.
As Canada emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, science and technology will continue to play a fundamental and decisive role in mitigating this and future challenges. More than ever, the complex technological, economic and societal challenges of the future demand a collective and coordinated response informed by research across all disciplines and sectors in Canada and abroad.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of having mechanisms in place to support the accessible and timely sharing of evidence and innovative solutions between decision makers and the research community. Several notable bodies were established to mobilize experts and decision-makers, including the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, the Therapeutics Task Force, the Immunity Task Force and the CanCOVID platform.
As we fund research, and scientific evidence is generated, it is important to ensure this evidence – and associated public policies – are communicated in a clear and accessible manner for Canadians, including those who are most at risk.
CRCC members have had an impact during the pandemic by rapidly mobilizing scientific expertise, research and technology to meet Canada’s urgent needs for vaccines and therapies, domestic biomanufacturing (e.g. NRC’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre), safe PPE, testing, and more.
The federal research funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) took several steps to help researchers most affected by the pandemic, including:
extending early career researchers’ access to funding equalization measures and programs;
extending many current scholarships and fellowships for an additional four months;
implementing measures to directly support graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, such as considering special circumstances that impacted the performance and productivity of applicants during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the review process for new scholarships and fellowships applications; and
providing supplements to eligible research grant recipients for supporting the salaries and stipends of students, post-doctoral researchers, and research support personnel paid through those grants, during work interruptions caused by COVID-19.
The federal research funding agencies will continue to implement the Tri-Agency EDI and ECR Action Plans and strive to achieve shared objectives to provide fair access to tri-agency research support and equitable participation in the research ecosystem.
CRCC member organizations are dedicated to strengthening Indigenous self-determination, leadership, and capacity in research and research training and will continue to implement the Tri-Agency Strategic Plan: Setting New Directions to Support Indigenous Research and Research Training in Canada.
The CRCC’s members oversaw the delivery of the $415 million Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund that provided critical wage support during the pandemic for some 32,000 research staff and helped 22,000 research projects to cover unanticipated maintenance and ramp-up costs. This rapid-response program helped to sustain the research enterprise at Canadian universities and health research institutions while reducing the negative impacts of the pandemic.
The New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) continues to support ground-breaking interdisciplinary research, including support for international collaboration within the program.
In August 2021 the NFRF launched a competition for Innovative Approaches to Research in the Pandemic Context.
A Special Call is under development, to support projects aligned with the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery.
This Roadmap was developed during the summer of 2020, through a global participatory process led by CIHR, with significant Canadian leadership including CRCC members.
Domestic science and technology facilities are critical to support talented researchers and innovative firms who can mobilize research knowledge into concrete applications and new products.
Research and innovation links are crucial to translate research strengths into socio-economic benefits for the country. New knowledge, discoveries and curiosity-driven research must also turn into innovation to sustain national prosperity.
Canada needs to maintain its innovation momentum well into the post-pandemic recovery. Talent, collaboration, and coordination will continue to be key elements that support and activate Canada’s research system for greater impact and advance research that addresses Canadian priorities.
Réponse collective à la COVID-19 : dialogue du Comité de coordination de la recherche au Canada (CCRC) avec les délégués 2021
Organisation : Secrétariat du CCRC et organisations membres du CCRC
Modérateur : Alejandro Adem, président du CCRC et président du Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG)
Ted Hewitt, vice-président du CCRC et président du Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (CRSH)
Simon Kennedy, sous-ministre, Innovation, Sciences et Développement économique Canada (ISDE)
Lakshmi Krishnan, vice-présidente des sciences de la vie (par intérim), Conseil national de recherches du Canada (CNRC)
Stephen Lucas, sous-ministre, Santé Canada
Roseann O’Reilly Runte, présidente, Fondation canadienne pour l’innovation (FCI)
Sarah Viehbeck, vice-présidente associée, programmes de recherche – stratégie, Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada (IRSC)
À propos du CCRC
Le CCRC contribue à la réalisation des priorités de recherche du gouvernement fédéral et coordonne les politiques et les programmes des organismes fédéraux de financement de la recherche au Canada et de la Fondation canadienne pour l’innovation (FCI). Il agit à titre de forum stratégique de haut niveau pour la mise en commun de l’information, l’établissement de consensus et la prise de décisions relatives à des initiatives tournées vers l’avenir qui consolident la recherche canadienne.
Le comité réunit la haute direction des organismes fédéraux de financement de la recherche (IRSC, CRSNG et CRSH) et de la FCI, le président du Conseil national de recherches du Canada, le sous-ministre d’ISDE, le sous-ministre de Santé Canada et la conseillère scientifique en chef du Canada.
Le CCRC a été créé en octobre 2017.
Contexte : Au cours de la dernière année, les membres du CCRC ont travaillé en étroite collaboration pour traiter la question de la COVID-19 et soutenir la communauté de la recherche, tout en continuant d’aller de l’avant sur les priorités clés qui visent à permettre la construction d’un milieu de la recherche plus fort. Les membres du CCRC ont discuté de leurs efforts individuels et collectifs pour faire face aux impacts de la pandémie, atténuer les difficultés rencontrées par la communauté de la recherche et reconstruire en mieux.
Les conclusions du panel
Alors que le Canada émerge de la pandémie de COVID-19, les sciences et la technologie sont appelées à continuer de jouer un rôle fondamental et décisif dans l’atténuation de ce défi et des défis futurs. Plus que jamais, la complexité des défis technologiques, économiques et sociétaux à venir exige une réponse collective et coordonnée, fondée sur la recherche, dans tous les secteurs et disciplines au Canada et à l’étranger.
La pandémie de COVID-19 a mis en évidence l’importance de disposer de mécanismes permettant de soutenir l’échange accessible et rapide de données probantes et de solutions innovantes entre les décideurs et la communauté de la recherche. Plusieurs initiatives notables ont été créées pour mobiliser des spécialistes et des décideurs, notamment le groupe de travail sur les vaccins contre la COVID-19, le groupe de travail sur les thérapeutiques de la COVID-19, le groupe de travail sur l’immunité face à la COVID-19 et la plateforme CanCOVID.
Au fur et à mesure que les recherches que nous finançons produisent des preuves scientifiques, il est important de veiller à ce que ces preuves – et les politiques publiques associées – soient communiquées de manière claire et accessible à la population canadienne, y compris aux personnes qui sont le plus à risque.
Les membres du CCRC ont eu un impact pendant la pandémie, en mobilisant rapidement l’expertise scientifique, la recherche et la technologie pour répondre aux besoins urgents du Canada en matière de vaccins et de thérapies, de bioproduction nationale (p. ex. le Centre de production de produits biologiques du CNRC), d’EPI, de tests, etc.
Les organismes fédéraux de financement de la recherche (IRSC, CRSNG et CRSH) ont pris plusieurs mesures pour aider les secteurs du milieu de la recherche les plus touchés par la pandémie, notamment :
extension de l’accès des chercheurs en début de carrière aux mesures et aux programmes de répartition égale du financement;
prolongation de nombreuses bourses d’études et de recherche actuelles pour une durée de quatre mois supplémentaires;
mise en œuvre de mesures visant à soutenir directement les étudiants diplômés et les chercheurs postdoctoraux, comme la prise en compte des circonstances particulières ayant eu un impact sur les performances et la productivité des candidats pendant la pandémie de COVID-19 dans le cadre du processus d’examen des nouvelles demandes de bourses d’études et de recherche;
mise à disposition de suppléments aux bénéficiaires de subventions de recherche admissibles pour soutenir les salaires et les allocations des étudiants, des chercheurs postdoctoraux et du personnel de soutien à la recherche payés par ces subventions pendant les interruptions de travail causées par la COVID-19.
Les organismes fédéraux de financement de la recherche continueront à mettre en œuvre le Plan d’action des trois organismes pour l’équité, la diversité et l’inclusion et le Plan d’action des trois organismes pour les chercheuses et chercheurs en début de carrière et s’efforceront d’atteindre des objectifs communs afin de fournir un accès équitable aux fonds de recherche des trois organismes et une participation équitable au milieu de la recherche.
Les organisations membres du CCRC se sont engagées à travailler avec des partenaires autochtones pour renforcer l’autodétermination, le leadership et la capacité des communautés autochtones en matière de recherche et de formation en recherche, et poursuivront la mise en œuvre du plan stratégique des trois organismes: Établir de nouvelles orientations à l’appui de la recherche et de la formation en recherche autochtone au Canada.
Les membres du CCRC ont supervisé la mise en œuvre du Fonds d’urgence pour la continuité de la recherche au Canada, d’un montant de 415 millions de dollars, qui a permis de fournir un soutien salarial essentiel à quelque 32 000 personnes participant à la recherche pendant la pandémie et d’aider 22 000 projets de recherche à couvrir des coûts de maintien et de reprise imprévus. Ce programme d’intervention rapide a permis de soutenir les universités et les établissements de recherche en santé canadiens tout en réduisant les effets négatifs de la pandémie.
Le Fonds Nouvelles frontières en recherche (FNFR) continue de soutenir la recherche interdisciplinaire de pointe, y compris la collaboration internationale dans le cadre du programme.
En août 2021, le FNFR a lancé un concours intitulé « Démarches de recherche novatrices en contexte de pandémie ».
Ce schéma directeur a été élaboré au cours de l’été 2020, dans le cadre d’un processus participatif mondial piloté par les IRSC, avec un important leadership canadien, notamment des membres du CCRC.
Les installations scientifiques et technologiques nationales sont essentielles pour soutenir les chercheurs talentueux et les entreprises innovantes qui peuvent transformer les connaissances issues de la recherche en applications concrètes et nouveaux produits.
Les liens avec la recherche et l’innovation sont essentiels pour traduire les atouts de la recherche en avantages socio-économiques pour le pays. Les nouvelles connaissances, les découvertes et la recherche motivée par la curiosité doivent également se transformer en innovation pour soutenir la prospérité nationale.
Le Canada doit maintenir son élan d’innovation pendant la reprise post-pandémique. Le talent, la collaboration et la coordination demeureront des éléments clés pour soutenir et activer le système de recherche du Canada afin d’en accroître l’impact et de faire progresser des recherches qui répondent aux priorités canadiennes.