2008-2009
Reports on Plans and Priorities



Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada






The Honourable Jim Prentice
Minister of Industry





Table of Contents

Section I – Overview of the Agency
     Minister’s Message
     Management Representation Statement
     Raison d'être
     Organizational Information
  Program Activity Architecture Crosswalk
  Voted and Statutory Items Displayed in the Main Estimates
  Planned Spending and Full-time Equivalents
  Summary Information
  Plans and Priorities
    The Research and Innovation Environment
    Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage
    Priority 2: Foster a Knowledge Advantage
    Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage
    Priority 4: Enhance Performance Measurement, Accountability and Value for Money
    Priority 5: Increase the Visibility of Canadian NSE Research
Section II – Analysis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome
     NSERC's Program Activity Architecture
  Strategic Outcome 1.0 – People: Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada
    1.1 Promote Science and Engineering
    1.2 Support Students and Fellows
    1.3 Attract and Retain Faculty
  Strategic Outcome 2.0 – Discovery: High quality Canadian-based competitive research in the natural sciences and engineering
    2.1 Fund Basic Reseach
    2.2 Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources
  Strategic Outcome 3.0 – Innovation: Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering
       3.1 Fund Research in Strategic Areas
    3.2 Fund University-Industry-Government Partnerships
    3.3 Support Commercialization
Section III – Supplementary Information
  Agency Links to the Government of Canada Outcomes



Section I – Overview of the Agency

Minister’s Message

Jim PrenticeThe Government of Canada is committed to creating an environment where all Canadians have every opportunity for continued prosperity.

We laid out our long-term economic plan in Advantage Canada. It identified five Canadian objectives, related to tax reduction, debt reduction, entrepreneurship, knowledge in the workforce and infrastructure, which will help us improve our quality of life and succeed on the world stage. I’m pleased to note the commonality between these advantages and Industry Canada’s mission of fostering a growing, competitive, knowledge-based economy.

Clearly, our government is making strides towards achieving our long-term goals. For example, we have provided $190 billion in broad-based tax relief over this and the next five years, including cuts to corporate, small business and personal taxes. Our debt repayment goals have been accelerated by three years. We’re setting the right conditions for entrepreneurs to thrive, for research and development to flourish, for additional competition and growth in the wireless sector and for our workforce to build on its expertise. Finally, we continue to invest heavily in our physical infrastructure to build the networks needed to carry our people, goods and services across Canada and beyond.

In May 2007 Prime Minister Harper unveiled our Science and Technology Strategy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage. It is a policy framework that has received wide acclaim, both in Canada and internationally. Our government believes that science and technology, and research and development, are more critical than ever to pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge and transforming that knowledge into new products, services and technologies.

Our hard work is paying off. The economic fundamentals are in place to help us realize our goals. We boast strong public finances, an economy that is as healthy as it has been for a generation and low unemployment.

As Minister of Industry, I look forward to implementing our government’s agenda for providing effective economic leadership – an agenda that provides concrete, realistic solutions to the economic challenges our country is facing.

As always, we must build on our success as a nation. In this regard, Industry Canada and its portfolio partners continue to strive towards a fair, efficient and competitive marketplace, an innovative economy, competitive industries and sustainable communities – in short, outcomes that will help Canadians continue to enjoy a quality of life that is second to none.

It gives me great pleasure to present the annual Report on Plans and Priorities for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, outlining in greater detail the agency’s main initiatives, priorities and expected outcomes for the upcoming year.

Jim Prentice
Minister of Industry

Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2008-2009 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2008–09 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

Suzanne Fortier
President, NSERC

Raison d’être

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) works to make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. NSERC aims to maximize the value of public investments in R&D and to advance prosperity and quality of life in Canada by supporting the creation and transfer of knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) and by ensuring that people are trained to discover, develop and use that knowledge.

Organizational Information


NSERC Quick Facts: 2008-09

President: Dr. Suzanne Fortier
Budget: $999 million
Offices:

  • Head Office: Ottawa, ON
  • Regional Offices*:
    • Moncton, NB
    • Winnipeg, MB
    • Vancouver, BC
    • Montreal, QC

Employees: 349 Full-time Equivalents
Reach:

  • 25,000 students and postdoctoral fellows
  • 11,500 university professors
  • 1,400 Canadian partner companies
  • over 100 universities and colleges

*NSERC plans to open a fifth regional office in Ontario.


NSERC is a departmental corporation of the Government of Canada and is the primary federal agency investing in post-secondary research and training in the NSE. It is funded directly by Parliament and reports to it through the Minister of Industry. NSERC’s Council is composed of the President and 21 other distinguished members selected from the private and public sectors, and post-secondary institutions. Members serve part-time and receive no remuneration for their participation. The Council is advised on policy matters by various standing committees. The President of NSERC is the Chief Executive Officer. Funding decisions are approved by the President on the basis of recommendations made by numerous peer review selection committees and panels.

In 2008-09, NSERC will invest nearly $1 billion in post-secondary research and training in the NSE. NSERC’s budget represents 10 per cent of the federal government’s expenditures on science and technology, and 16 per cent of all university research and development (R&D) funding in the NSE.

Mandate

The functions of NSERC, based on the authority and responsibility assigned to it under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act (1976-77, c.24), are to:

NSERC’s Organizational and Governance Structure

NSERC's Organizational and Governance Structure

Program Activity Architecture Crosswalk

Modifications to NSERC’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA) were approved by Treasury Board in May 2007. Changes to the PAA were made to ensure programs’ classification reflect their primary objective, as well as to harmonize the PAA with recent program changes and evolution. The updated PAA is consistent with the way NSERC manages its programs and related activities and allocates resources to achieve expected results.

Summary of changes:

  1. PA 2.1 (Fund Basic Research) has been divided into two PAs. A new PA has been created, namely PA 2.2 (Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources), under the Discovery Strategic Outcome. The programs listed at the sub-activity level, formerly under “Fund Basic Research,” can be grouped into two activities: programs that support research as such (PA 2.1) and programs that support the equipment and major resources necessary to do research or to build capacity for research (new PA 2.2).
  2. Program Activity 2.2 (Fund Research in Strategic Areas) was moved from Strategic Outcome (SO) 2.0 to SO 3.0. This Program Activity (PA) will now appear as PA 3.1 (Fund Research in Strategic Areas). This amendment better represents the expected results of this PA, which are: “Research and training in targeted and emerging areas of national importance is accelerated.” These results link best with SO 3.0 “Innovation: Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering,” which involves alignment of research to national and industrial needs, as well as research partnerships involving industry, government and universities.

Table 1. Redistribution of financial resources following modification of PAA


($ millions)
New Program Activity 2008-09
PA 2.1
Fund Basic Research
PA 2.2
Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources
PA 3.1
Fund Research in Strategic Areas
Total
Old Program Activity PA 2.1
Fund Basic Research
379.4
41.5
N/A
420.9
PA 2.2
Fund Research in Strategic Areas
N/A
N/A
104.5
104.5

Voted and Statutory Items Displayed in the Main Estimates

Table 2. Voted and Statutory Items Displayed in the Main Estimates ($ millions)


Vote or Statutory Item
Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording
2008-09
Main Estimates
2007-08
Main Estimates
70
Operating expenditures
40.7
36.5
75
Grants
913.4
858.9
(S)
Contributions to employee benefit plans
4.1
4.1
 
Total for Agency
958.2
899.6
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding

Planned Spending and Full-time Equivalents

Table 3. Planned Spending and Full-time Equivalents


($ millions)
Forecast
Spending
2007–08
Planned
Spending
2008–09
Planned
Spending
2009–10
Planned
Spending
2010–11
Program Activity:
1.1 – Promote Science and Engineering
4.1
6.3
6.3
6.3
1.2 – Support Students and Fellows
136.4
146.2
146.7
146.7
1.3 – Attract and Retain Faculty
167.8
167.7
167.7
167.7
2.1 – Fund Basic Research
403.4
379.4
379.0
376.6
2.2 – Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources
N/A1
41.5
29.7
29.7
3.1 – Fund Research in Strategic Areas
57.7
104.5
103.3
102.5
3.2 – Fund University-Industry-Government Partnerships
115.0
101.1
101.2
101.2
3.3 – Support Commercialization
15.2
11.5
11.5
11.5
Total Main Estimates
899.6
958.2
945.4
942.2


Adjustments
Supplementary Estimates:
- Budget 2007―NSERC
37.0
 
 
 
- Budget 2007―Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships
6.0
 
 
 
- Budget 2007―College and Community Innovation  
2.5
15.0
15.0
- Budget 2007―Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research
58.0
24.4
27.5
28.5
- Budget 2007―Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence
0.4
9.7
10.1
11.1
- Budget 2007―Industrial R&D Internship Program
0.1
4.3
4.4
5.9
- International Polar Year Funds
12.0
 
 
 
- Federal Accountability Act Funds
0.3
 
 
 
- Transfer from Health Canada for the International Polar Year
0.1
 
 
 
- Transfer to Department of National Defence for Canada Research Chairs at Royal Military College (RMC)
(0.4)
 
 
 
Other:
- Compensation for Salary Adjustments
0.1
 
 
 
- Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit Funds
0.2
 
 
 
- Operating Carry-forward from 2006-07
1.8
 
 
 
Total Adjustments
115.6
40.9
57.0
60.5
Total Planned Spending
1,015.2
999.1
1,002.4
1,002.7
Less: Non-respendable revenue
(1.3)
(1.3)
(1.3)
(1.3)
Plus: Cost of services received without charge
5.7
5.7
5.7
5.7
Total Agency Spending
1,019.6
1,003.5
1,006.8
1,007.1
Full-time Equivalents
336
349
349
349
1 See Program Activity Architecture Crosswalk.

NSERC’s administration costs are approximately five per cent of its total budget, which is low compared to similar agencies in Canada and around the world. NSERC is able to maintain this low level of overhead expenses by extensively using volunteer committee members and reviewers, obtaining agreement from Canadian universities that receive NSERC funds to participate in their administration, and sharing the costs of common administrative services through a successful partnership with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Summary Information

Table 4. Financial Resources ($ millions) and Human Resources


2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
$999.1
$1,002.4
$1,002.7
349
349
349

Table 5. Agency Priorities


Name

Type
1. Foster a People Advantage
Ongoing
2. Foster a Knowledge Advantage
Ongoing
3. Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage
Ongoing
4. Enhance performance measurement, accountability and value for money
New

5. Increase the visibility of Canadian NSE research

New

Table 6. Program Activities by Strategic Outcome


 
Expected Results
Planned Spending2
($ millions)
Supports priority #
2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Strategic Outcome #1 – People:
Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada
1.1 Promote Science and Engineering Student interest in research in the sciences, math and engineering is encouraged.
6.3
6.3
6.3
1, 5
1.2 Support Students and Fellows A supply of highly qualified people with leading-edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government and universities.
146.2
146.7
146.7
1
1.3 Attract and Retain Faculty Enhanced research capacity in science and engineering.
167.7
167.7
167.7
1, 2, 3
Strategic Outcome #2 – Discovery:
High quality Canadian-based competitive research in the natural sciences and engineering
2.1 Fund Basic Research The discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) is enhanced.
379.4
379.0
376.6
1, 2, 3
2.2 Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources The discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the NSE is supported by the access to research equipment and major regional or national research facilities.
41.5
29.7
29.7
1, 2, 3
Strategic Outcome #3 – Innovation:
Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering
3.1 Fund Research in Strategic Areas Research and training in targeted and emerging areas of national importance is accelerated.
104.5
103.3
102.5
1, 2, 3
3.2 Fund University-Industry-Government Partnerships Mutually beneficial collaborations between the private sector and researchers in universities, resulting in industrial or economic benefits to Canada.
139.5
143.2
146.7
1, 3
3.3 Support Commercialization The transfer of knowledge and technology residing in Canadian universities and colleges to the user sector is facilitated.
14.0
26.5
26.5
3
TOTAL  
999.1
1,002.4
1,002.7
 


2 Includes costs for administration of NSERC programs totalling $44.8 million in 2008-09.

Plans and Priorities

The Research and Innovation Environment

All aspects of modern Canadian social and economic life and society are affected by advances in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE). Research, training and innovation are the foundation on which to build national prosperity, adding value to goods and services as well as producing the highly qualified people that are able to conduct research, generate new knowledge, access knowledge created elsewhere, and adopt and adapt new technologies for industry.

In the global, knowledge-based economy, Canada faces growing competition from both established and emerging economies with excellent educational systems and large, skilled workforces. Research activities are expanding rapidly in emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil. Beyond our traditional competitors among the G8, smaller economies such as Finland, Denmark, Israel and Sweden have surpassed Canada in research intensity.3 These smaller economies are largely knowledge-based and focused on maintaining global leadership in key economic sectors.

Canada ranks at or near the top among member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in terms of the proportion of investment in R&D spent in the higher education sector, including the proportion that is provided to this sector by business. These trends reflect the importance of a strong academic sector to the country; without it, our companies would lose a critical supply of knowledge and skilled workers.

Talented science and engineering graduates represent the most important mode of transfer of scientific and technical knowledge from academia to the user sector. However, a relatively small percentage of Canadian university students are enrolled in the NSE, and fewer young Canadians hold PhDs, compared to the OECD average. The growing needs of the labour market for scientists and engineers require sustained investments in scientific and technical training.

These realities are reflected in the new Federal Science and Technology (S&T) Strategy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage. Through the S&T Strategy, the federal government has committed to maintaining Canada’s G-7 leadership in public sector R&D performance. The Strategy builds on existing strengths, focusing efforts in areas where Canada can achieve global excellence, to make a real impact on the lives of Canadians and in the marketplace.

Since the S&T Strategy was released in May 2007, NSERC has embraced its vision and worked proactively to carry out its agenda. NSERC is working closely with the other federal funding agencies on projects and initiatives that address 18 of the 35 policy commitments in the S&T Strategy. NSERC’s focus on people, discovery and innovation maps directly onto the strategy’s emphasis of building a People Advantage, a Knowledge Advantage and an Entrepreneurial Advantage. In broad terms, virtually all of NSERC’s funding relates to these advantages.

The strategy’s principles have been incorporated into NSERC’s planning and decision-making functions. These principles are also solidly embedded in NSERC’s way of doing business, which includes: a competitive, peer reviewed evaluation system to ensure world class levels of excellence and value for money; a blend of targeted and broad-based programs to ensure that priority research topics are addressed as well as a broad spectrum of science, from discovery to applied research and commercialization; a suite of collaborative research programs that foster partnerships between industry and post-secondary institutions and that encourage commercialization; and appropriate and effective controls that are proven and recognized to ensure accountability4.

Canada’s research landscape has changed substantially over the past decade. Public investment in higher-education R&D has increased dramatically over this period. In many areas of research, Canada is truly a world-class player, as demonstrated by its increased ability to attract and retain top talent. The national science and innovation system offers Canadian researchers the tools they need to be knowledge trailblazers, seize opportunities to innovate and address global challenges such as adaptation to climate change and sustainable energy. NSERC is committed to advancing the goals of the S&T Strategy and to helping the research community make the most of the opportunities it offers them.

NSERC’s senior management has identified the following priorities for the three-year planning period (2008-2009 to 2010-2011):

Program priorities

  1. Foster a People Advantage
  2. Foster a Knowledge Advantage
  3. Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

    Management priorities

  4. Enhance performance measurement, accountability and value for money
  5. Increase the visibility of Canadian NSE research

It is important to note that all of NSERC’s priorities and planned initiatives are being carried out in a context of increasing cooperation and collaboration among all the major federal research funding agencies, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Examples of inter-agency alignment and harmonization are found throughout this document. The Presidents of the four agencies meet regularly to discuss strategic opportunities and challenges and staff members at various levels of the organizations have opened fruitful channels of communications leading to cooperative policies and programming.


3OECD, Main Science and Technology Indicators, October 2007.
4 In its report, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Grants and Contributions stated, “The record of performance by the federal research granting agencies, including CFI, has been deemed to be high by international standards. The two councils and CIHR have successfully managed their own research portfolios, using a rigorous system of oversight, including a detailed memorandum of understanding signed by all recipient institutions and regular financial monitoring visits of recipient universities.”

Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage

The S&T Strategy challenges us to create the right conditions to attract, retain and develop the talent and ingenuity Canada needs to compete in the worldwide knowledge economy. Science and engineering graduates represent the most important mode of transfer of scientific and technical knowledge from academia to the user sector.

Talented people, including research trainees, new investigators and emerging leaders, and established researchers with high-profile international reputations, are NSERC’s most important output. Through research and research training, NSERC fosters the development of skilled workers who will become leaders across the private and public sectors.

Stimulating young Canadians’ interest in science and engineering is critical to helping develop tomorrow’s discoverers and innovators. NSERC’s contributions in science promotion are primarily achieved through the encouragement and support, through competitive grants, of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other organizations that are dedicated to stimulating young people’s interest and improving school performance in science and mathematics. Also vital is the support NSERC provides to students, from the undergraduate to the postdoctoral levels, to encourage them to consider and pursue studies and careers in the NSE and develop not only skills in their area of expertise but also the professional skills that will make them effective in the marketplace.

NSERC’s plans and actions under Priority 1 will contribute to fostering a People Advantage for Canada and will directly support the agency’s Strategic Objective 1.0: “Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada”. In 2008-09 and beyond, NSERC will focus its efforts in the following areas:

Priority 2: Foster a Knowledge Advantage

NSERC is committed to creating a strong foundation for research and research training in Canada. This is embodied in NSERC’s Discovery Grants Program, which provides a base from which researchers can establish and build their research programs, and gives them the opportunity to unleash their creative power. This program is also the foundation for training the next generation: virtually every science and engineering student trained in Canada learns from NSERC-funded professors.

Science and discovery have no boundaries. Increasingly, researchers, both as individuals and teams, need to forge partnerships locally, internationally, and across disciplines and sectors to be at the leading edge of knowledge in their areas of inquiry.

Canada must position itself within this environment, to be able to generate the important developments that lead to environmental, societal, health, and economic benefits. The S&T Strategy calls on the federal funding agencies to coordinate efforts in priority areas of Canadian R&D strength and opportunity, where Canada can build global research and commercial leadership. These include environmental science and technologies; natural resources and energy; health and related life sciences and technologies; and information and communications technologies. An estimated 57 per cent of NSERC’s funding is currently allocated to these four priority areas. This proportion is expected to increase given the efforts NSERC is making to mobilize the research community to address significant opportunities and challenges in these strategic areas.

NSERC’s plans and actions under Priority 2 will contribute to fostering a Knowledge Advantage for Canada and will directly support the agency’s Strategic Outcome 2.0: “High quality Canadian-based competitive research in the natural sciences and engineering”. In 2008-09 and beyond, NSERC will focus its efforts in the following areas:

In 2008-09 and beyond, NSERC will continue to implement and build on these recent initiatives, exploring ways to further focus resources in the priority areas. For example, NSERC’s Special Research Opportunities (SRO) program can be used to launch calls for proposals in specific areas of importance to Canada.

Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

Canada’s future prosperity depends upon our ability to be strong performers in innovation, creating products and processes that are attractive in world markets. To do this, Canada must establish research and business leadership in key areas. This leadership is built on, and contributes to, the strength of the research base. NSERC will continue to work to increase the impact of research and training on Canadian industry’s competitiveness and to accelerate the translation of research results into commercially successful innovations.

The S&T Strategy recognizes that partnerships between universities and industry can bring research strengths to bear on market-driven challenges and opportunities. The Strategy’s Entrepreneurial Advantage focuses on supporting productivity growth through science and technology by putting in place the conditions that encourage private sector investment and innovation. NSERC and the other research granting agencies are responding to this challenge by introducing new ways to promote knowledge and technology transfer between post-secondary institutions and the private and public sectors through partnerships. The agencies are also working to increase the effectiveness of existing mechanisms for commercialization and contributing to a better understanding of the innovation system itself.

NSERC’s plans and actions under this priority will contribute to fostering an Entrepreneurial Advantage for Canada and will directly support the agency’s Strategic Objective 3.0: “Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering in Canada”. In 2008-09 and beyond, NSERC will focus its efforts in the following areas:

Priority 4: Enhance Performance Measurement, Accountability and Value for Money

The S&T Strategy includes several explicit commitments related to the granting agencies’ governance, value for money and performance reporting. NSERC is working closely with SSHRC, CIHR, CFI and Industry Canada to coordinate and align programs, policies and processes. Over the last few years, NSERC has added capacity and is making concrete advances in the areas of evaluation, impact analysis and reporting.

NSERC’s management practices were reviewed in 2006-07 by both the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grant and Contribution Programs and the government-wide Management Accountability Framework (MAF) assessment. In both cases, observations were generally positive and recognized the agency’s strengths in financial management and control, and in responding to citizen and client needs and expectations. NSERC is taking steps to address those areas identified for improvement in the MAF assessment, including aspects related to performance measurement, public reporting documents, risk management, and the internal audit function.

In 2008-09, NSERC will place a strong emphasis on measuring and demonstrating results to Canadians, and will continue to assure high standards of accountability and client service, by focusing its efforts in the following areas:

NSERC will revamp the suite of communications products used to report results and impacts to various stakeholders and the public. A reporting structure is being developed based on a set of products and modules devoted to People, Discovery and Innovation. Several modules will be produced in 2008-09.

Priority 5: Increase the Visibility of Canadian NSE Research

The accomplishments of outstanding Canadian researchers, institutions and students are a cause for celebration. NSERC has numerous vehicles to call attention to the excellence of Canadian research and researchers, working through the media, with other agencies and in extensive outreach endeavours. NSERC has established several prestigious national prizes to recognize outstanding Canadian researchers, research teams and students. These prizes enhance the career development of highly promising scientists and engineers and celebrate the sustained excellence of Canadian research. They publicly recognize successful R&D collaborations between industry and post-secondary institutions, and celebrate young Canadian entrepreneurs.

NSERC is working to increase the visibility of these prizes and more generally of Canadian scientists and discoveries, both nationally and internationally. NSERC’s prizes, communications and outreach activities aim to stimulate Canadians’ interest in science and engineering, to inspire youth to pursue studies and careers in NSE, and to help make Canada a destination of choice for talent from around the world.

In 2008-09 and beyond, NSERC will focus its efforts in the following areas:



Section II – Analysis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

NSERC’s Program Activity Architecture

Section II of this report follows the structure of NSERC’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA) in terms of its three strategic outcomes (SO), related program activities and program sub-activities, as presented below:


Program Activity Program Sub-Activity
SO 1.0: People – Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada
1.1 Promote Science and Engineering 1.1.1 PromoScience
1.1.2 Centres for Research in Youth, Science Teaching and Learning
1.1.3 Prizes
1.2 Support Students and Fellows




1.2.1 Undergraduate Student Research Awards
1.2.2 NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships
1.2.3 Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships *
1.2.4 Postdoctoral Fellowships
1.2.5 Industrial Research and Development Fellowships
1.3 Attract and Retain Faculty 1.3.1 Canada Research Chairs *
1.3.2 Industrial Research Chairs
1.3.3 Chairs in Targeted Areas of Research
1.3.4 University Faculty Awards
SO 2.0: Discovery – High quality Canadian-based competitive research in the natural sciences and engineering
2.1 Fund Basic Research 2.1.1 Discovery Grants
2.1.2 Special Research Opportunity Grants
2.1.3 General Support
2.2 Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources 2.2.1 Research Tools and Instruments
2.2.2 Major Resources Support Grants
2.2.3 Research Capacity Development in Small Universities
SO 3.0: Innovation – Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering
3.1 Fund Research in Strategic Areas 3.1.1 Strategic Partnerships
3.1.2 Collaborative Health Research Projects *
3.2 Fund University-Industry-Government Partnerships 3.2.1 Collaborative Research and Development Grants
3.2.2 Research Partnership Agreements
3.2.3 Networks of Centres of Excellence * +
3.3 Support Commercialization 3.3.1 Intellectual Property Mobilization *
3.3.2 Idea to Innovation Program
3.3.3 College and Community Innovation Program *

* Programs involving two or more Agencies.
+ The new Business-Led NCEs, Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research, and Industrial R&D Internships will be included in this activity.

Strategic Outcome 1.0 – People: Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada

NSERC will help ensure a reliable supply of highly qualified people for Canadian industry, government and universities by promoting science and engineering to Canadian youth, supporting students and fellows training in Canadian universities and abroad, and providing support to university faculty.

Program Activities

1.1 Promote Science and Engineering


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$6.3 million
$6.3 million
$6.3 million
Human Resources
3
3
3
Description
This program activity encourages popular interest in science, math and engineering and aims to develop science, math and engineering abilities in Canadian youth.
Expected Results

Student interest in research in the sciences, math and engineering is encouraged.

Indicators
  • Number of organizations supported through PromoScience
  • Impact on teaching practices (K–12)
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will:
  • Support 125 non-profit organizations, museums, science centres and post-secondary institutions who promote science and engineering to youth, through the PromoScience grant program;
  • Support five centres conducting research aimed at improving K–12 science teaching, through the Centres for Research in Youth, Science Teaching and Learning program;
  • Celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding researchers, research teams and students through the following prizes:
    • E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships
    • Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering
    • Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize
    • Innovation Challenge Awards
    • Michael Smith Awards for Science Promotion
    • NSERC André Hamer Postgraduate Prizes
    • NSERC Doctoral Prizes
    • NSERC John C. Polanyi Award
    • Synergy Awards for Innovation
Link to Priorities
Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage
Priority 5: Increase the visibility of Canadian NSE research

Selected key programs, services and initiatives within this Program Activity that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 include the following:

1.2 Support Students and Fellows


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$146.2 million
$146.7 million
$146.7 million
Human Resources
59
58
58
Description
This program activity supports the training of highly qualified personnel through scholarship and fellowship programs.
Expected Results

A supply of highly qualified people with leading-edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government, and universities.

Indicators
  • Percentage of students supported staying in Canada after their studies
  • Average salary of scholarship recipients vs. general population after completion of studies
  • Average completion rates among recipients vs. general NSE student population
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will support more than 4,000 undergraduate students, more than 4,000 master’s and doctoral students and nearly 700 postdoctoral fellows conducting research in the natural sciences and engineering, through the following Scholarship and Fellowship programs:
  • Undergraduate Student Research Awards;
  • Postgraduate Scholarships for masters and doctoral students;
  • Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships for masters and doctoral students;
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships;
  • Industrial Research and Development Fellowships.

In addition to NSERC’s Scholarship and Fellowship programs, NSERC indirectly supports (i.e., through grants provided to professors) almost 5,000 undergraduate students, more than 4,900 graduate students and approximately 1,400 postdoctoral fellows.

Link to Priority
Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage

Selected key programs, services and initiatives within this Program Activity that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 include the following:

1.3 Attract and Retain Faculty


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$167.7 million
$167.7 million
$167.7 million
Human Resources
25
25
25
Description
This program activity aims to attract and retain faculty.
Expected Results

Enhanced research capacity in science and engineering.

Indicators
  • New professors coming to Canada: number of foreign educated new applicants to NSERC’s Discovery Grants program
  • Attrition rates: percentage of NSERC funded professors retained in Canada
  • Number of new applications for Industrial Research Chairs to be created in Canadian universities
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will:
  • Attract and retain some of the world's most accomplished and promising researchers in the NSE by supporting 900 Canada Research Chairs;
  • Build research capacity in areas of priority to industry by supporting 200 professors who hold Industrial Research Chairs.
Link to Priorities
Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage
Priority 2: Foster a Knowledge Advantage
Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

A key initiative under Program Activity 1.3 that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 is the following:

Strategic Outcome 2.0 – Discovery: High quality Canadian-based competitive research in the natural sciences and engineering

Support for ongoing programs of research provides the foundation for scientific and technological advances, ensuring Canada’s participation in the generation of new knowledge and ability to draw on such knowledge generated around the world. Support for research equipment and major resources ensures that Canadian post-secondary institutions are able to train the next generation of scientists and engineers in a world-class research environment, with access to state-of-the-art instruments and equipment and to major regional or national research facilities.

Program Activities

2.1 Fund Basic Research


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$379.4 million
$379.0 million
$376.6 million
Human Resources
122
126
126
Description
This program activity invests in discovery through grants focusing on basic research activities.
Expected Results

The discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering is enhanced by the provision of support for on-going programs of basic research.

Indicators
  • Number of publications and percentage share of world production
  • Average relative impact factor of Canadian publications in the NSE (comparison with other countries)
  • Higher education R&D spending as a percentage of GDP, compared to G8 countries
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will:
  • Support the ongoing programs of research of 11,500 researchers through the Discovery Grants program;
  • Accelerate the progress and maximize the impact of more than 175 outstanding research programs through the Discovery Accelerator Supplements;
  • Support 300 researchers through Special Research Opportunity Grants, enabling them to pursue new and emerging research opportunities and develop potential new collaborations, nationally or internationally.
Link to Priorities
Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage
Priority 2: Foster a Knowledge Advantage
Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

Selected key programs, services and initiatives within this Program Activity that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 include the following:

2.2 Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$41.5 million
$29.7 million
$29.7 million
Human Resources
23
17
17
Description
This program activity helps to support the establishment, maintenance and operation of the research equipment, major research resources and research capacity necessary to carry out high quality research in the natural sciences and engineering.
Expected Results

The discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering is supported by the access to research equipment and major regional or national research facilities.
Indicators
  • Adequacy and impact of national and regional research facilities in Canada and level of access
  • Extent to which research equipment is up to date and sufficient to meet the needs of research programs
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will:
  • Facilitate access of Canadian researchers to more than 75 major national or international experimental facilities or research resources;
  • Enhance research capacity in Canadian universities by providing $36 million to support the purchase of research equipment and access to installations;
  • Build research capacity at seven smaller universities through the Research Capacity Development in Small Universities Program.
Link to Priorities
Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage
Priority 2: Foster a Knowledge Advantage
Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

A key initiative under Program Activity 2.2 that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 is the following:

Strategic Outcome 3.0 – Innovation: Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering

Wealth is created when Canadians add value in producing goods and services that are sold in world markets. Knowledge is the modern basis for adding value. NSERC aims to maximize the value of public investments in research for the benefit of all Canadians by promoting research-based innovation, university-industry partnerships, technology transfer activities and the training of people with the required scientific and business skill sets to create wealth from discoveries in the NSE.

Program Activities

3.1 Fund Research in Strategic Areas


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$104.5 million
$103.3 million
$102.5 million
Human Resources
36
39
39
Description
This program activity funds research in areas of national importance and in emerging areas that are of potential significance to Canada.
Expected Results

Research and training in targeted and emerging areas of national importance is accelerated.

Indicators
  • Trends in funding for research in the Federal S&T Strategy priority areas
  • Trends in number of organizations participating in Strategic Partnerships Programs
  • Partner satisfaction with project outcomes in targeted areas
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will:
  • Support 500 early-stage research projects in targeted areas that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society and/or environment within the next ten years, through the Strategic Project Grants program;
  • Support 20 large-scale, collaborative networks in targeted areas that could strongly enhance Canada's economy, society and/or environment within the next ten years, through the Strategic Network Grants program;
  • Support 75 Collaborative Health Research Projects for research projects in the NSE which, if successful, will lead to health benefits for Canadians, more effective health services, and economic development in health-related areas.
Link to Priorities
Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage
Priority 2: Foster a Knowledge Advantage
Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

Selected key programs, services and initiatives within this Program Activity that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 include the following:

3.2 Fund University-Industry-Government Partnerships


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$139.5 million
$143.2 million
$146.7 million
Human Resources
77
77
77
Description
This program activity fosters collaborations between university researchers and other sectors, including government and industry, in order to develop new knowledge and expertise, and to transfer this knowledge and expertise to Canadian-based organizations.
Expected Results

Mutually beneficial collaborations between the private sector and researchers in universities, resulting in industrial or economic benefits to Canada.

Indicators
  • Ratio of partner contributions to NSERC funding
  • Partner satisfaction with research results
  • Trend in number of companies involved in university-industry partnerships
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will:
  • Support more than 1,000 university researchers working in partnership with industry through the Collaborative Research and Development Grants;
  • Support 16 Networks of Centres of Excellence (in the natural sciences and engineering) and up to five Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence, bringing together researchers and partners from the academic, private, public and non profit sectors in areas of strategic importance for Canada;
  • Support internationally recognized centres of commercialization and research expertise in four priority areas of strategic importance for Canada, through the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research program;
  • Encourage Canadian industry to invest over $50 million in leveraged funds through programs fostering private-public sector research and commercialization partnerships;
  • Provide indirect support, through grants for industry-university partnerships, for an estimated 500 undergraduate students, nearly 1,200 graduate students and approximately 200 postdoctoral fellows;
  • Create opportunities for an estimated 500 science and technology graduates to apply their expertise in industry through the new Industrial R&D Internship Program.
Link to Priorities
Priority 1: Foster a People Advantage
Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

Selected key programs, services and initiatives within this Program Activity that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 include the following:

3.3 Support Commercialization


 
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Financial Resources
$14.0 million
$26.5 million
$26.5 million
Human Resources
4
4
4
Description
This program activity supports innovation and promotes the transfer of knowledge and technology to Canadian companies.
Expected Results

The transfer of knowledge and technology residing in Canadian universities and colleges to the user sector is facilitated.

Indicators
  • Trends in technology and knowledge transfer activity
Outputs
In 2008-09, NSERC will:
  • Support approximately eight new collaborations to encourage research and technology transfer between colleges and industry through the College and Community Innovation Program;
  • Provide $3.5 million in funding to accelerate the transfer of knowledge and technology residing in Canadian universities, hospitals, and colleges, through the Intellectual Property Mobilization Program;
  • Support 75 projects to accelerate the pre-competitive development of promising technology and promote its transfer to Canadian companies, through the Idea to Innovation (I2I) Program.
Link to Priority
Priority 3: Foster an Entrepreneurial Advantage

A key initiative under Program Activity 3.3 that will support NSERC’s priorities from 2008-09 to 2010-11 is the following:



Section III – Supplementary Information

Agency Links to the Government of Canada Outcomes

All of NSERC’s program activities contribute to the achievement of the Government of Canada’s “Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy” outcome area (within the Economic Affairs cluster).

Table 7. Agency Links to the Government of Canada Outcomes


 
Expected Results
Planned Spending5
($ millions)
Alignment to Government of Canada Outcome Area
2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Strategic Outcome #1 – People:
Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada
1.1 Promote Science and Engineering Student interest in research in the sciences, math and engineering is encouraged.
6.3
6.3
6.3
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
1.2 Support Students and Fellows A supply of highly qualified people with leading-edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government and universities.
146.2
146.7
146.7
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
1.3 Attract and Retain Faculty Enhanced research capacity in science and engineering.
167.7
167.7
167.7
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
Strategic Outcome #2 – Discovery:
High quality Canadian-based competitive research in the natural sciences and engineering
2.1 Fund Basic Research The discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) is enhanced.
379.4
379.0
376.6
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
2.2 Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources The discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the NSE is supported by the access to research equipment and major regional or national research facilities.
41.5
29.7
29.7
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
Strategic Outcome #3 – Innovation:
Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering
3.1 Fund Research in Strategic Areas Research and training in targeted and emerging areas of national importance is accelerated.
104.5
103.3
102.5
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
3.2 Fund University-Industry-Government Partnerships Mutually beneficial collaborations between the private sector and researchers in universities, resulting in industrial or economic benefits to Canada.
139.5
143.2
146.7
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
3.3 Support Commercialization The transfer of knowledge and technology residing in Canadian universities and colleges to the user sector is facilitated.
14.0
26.5
26.5
Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy
TOTAL  
999.1
1,002.4
1,002.7
 


5 Includes costs for administration of NSERC programs totalling $44.8 million in 2008-09.

The tables listed below are available on the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Web site at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2008-2009/info/info-eng.asp:



Table 8. Details on Transfer Payment Programs


Name of transfer payment program: Grants and Scholarships
Start date:
April 1, 1978
End date:
No end date
Current Terms and Conditions will expire October 31, 2011
Description: NSERC’s class grants Grants and Scholarships program supports university-based basic and project research, provides scholarships and fellowships to young researchers, and facilitates links between universities, colleges, the private sector, and governments.
Strategic outcomes:
People – Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada.
Discovery High quality Canadian-based competitive research in the natural sciences and engineering.
Innovation Productive use of new knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering.
Expected results:
  • Enhanced research capacity resulting from a supply of highly qualified people with leading-edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government, and universities;
  • Enhanced discovery, innovation, and training capabilities of university and college researchers in the natural sciences and engineering;
  • Strong linkages created between universities, colleges, industry, and government, supporting the transfer of knowledge and technology with economic and/or social benefits to Canadians.
($ millions)

Forecast
Spending
2007-20081

Planned
Spending
2008-2009

Planned
Spending
2009-2010

Planned
Spending
2010-2011

PEOPLE
Program Activity 1.1: Promote Science and Engineering
Total Grants

3.9

5.9

5.9

5.9

Planned Evaluations

Mid-term review
(CRYSTAL
pilot program)

Evaluations (PromoScience; Prizes)

Program Activity 1.2: Support Students and Fellows
Total Grants2

93.2

99.5

97.8

97.7

Planned Evaluations

Evaluation (Postgraduate Scholarships)

Evaluation (Fellowships)

Program Activity 1.3: Attract and Retain Faculty
Total Grants

163.8

164.7

164.7

164.7

Planned Evaluations

Evaluation (Canada Research Chairs)

Total for PEOPLE

260.9

270.1

268.4

268.3

 

DISCOVERY
Program Activity 2.1: Fund Basic Research
Total Grants

386.1

363.8

362.9

360.5

Planned Evaluations

International review (Discovery Grants); Mid-term review (Research Capacity Development in Small Universities pilot program)

Evaluation (Special Research Opportunity program)

Program Activity 2.2: Support for Research Equipment and Major Resources
Total Grants

N/A3

38.7

27.6

27.6

Planned Evaluations

Joint evaluation
(Research Tools and Instruments and Major Resources Support Grants)

Total for DISCOVERY

386.1

402.5

390.5

388.1

 

INNOVATION
Program Activity 3.1: Fund Research in Strategic Areas
Total Grants

52.8

100.0

98.4

97.6

Planned Evaluations

Evaluation (Strategic Partnerships programs)

Program Activity 3.2: Fund University-Industry-Government Partnerships
Total Grants

105.1

90.2

90.3

90.3

Planned Evaluations

Evaluation
(Networks of Centres of Excellence)

Evaluation (Collaborative Research and Development Grants)

Program Activity 3.3: Support Commercialization
Total Grants

16.4

11.0

11.0

11.0

Planned Evaluations

Mid-term review (College and Community Innovation pilot program); Evaluation (Intellectual Property Mobilization program)

Evaluation (Idea-to-Innovation program)

Total for INNOVATION

174.3

201.2

199.7

198.9

 

Total for Program

821.3

873.8

858.6

855.3


1 As per 2007-2008 Main Estimates; does not include Supplementary Estimates items.
2 Figures for Program Activity 1.2 do not include grant amounts for the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships Program; these amounts are listed separately in the following table.
3 NSERC’s Program Activity Architecture was modified in 2007. See Table 1: Redistribution of financial resources following modification of PAA.


Name of transfer payment program: Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships
Start date:
April 1, 2003
End date:
No end date
Current Terms and Conditions will expire
May 31, 2008
Description: NSERC’s portion of the tri-agency Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) program provides financial support to high-calibre scholars who are engaged in master's or doctoral programs in the natural sciences or engineering.
Strategic outcome: Highly skilled science and engineering professionals in Canada
Expected results: Increased capacity to meet demand for highly qualified personnel in the academic, public and private sectors.
($ millions)

Forecast
Spending
2007-2008

Planned
Spending
2008-2009

Planned
Spending
2009-2010

Planned
Spending
2010-2011

Program Activity 1.2: Support Students and Fellows
Total Grants

37.5

39.6

42.1

42.1

Planned Evaluations

Review of Alexander Graham Bell CGS program

Total for Program

37.5

39.6

42.1

42.1




Table 9. Recently Completed and Upcoming Evaluations (Next three fiscal years)


Name of Evaluation

Evaluation Type

Status

Expected Completion Date

Joint evaluation of Research Tools and Instruments and Major Resources Support programs

Transfer payment

Completed
2007

 

Mid-term review of the College and Community Innovation pilot program

Transfer payment

Completed
2007

 

Evaluation of the Networks of Centres of Excellence program

Transfer payment

Completed
2007

 

Evaluation of the Intellectual Property Management program

Transfer payment

In progress

March 2008

International review of the Discovery Grants program

Transfer payment

In progress

May 2008

Review of the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships program

Transfer payment

In progress

August 2008

Evaluation of the Postgraduate Scholarships (jointly with the review of the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships program)

Transfer payment

In progress

August 2008

Mid-term review of Centres for Research in Youth, Science Teaching and Learning pilot program

Transfer payment

In progress

October 2008

Evaluation of the Panel and Secretariat on Research Ethics

Tri-agency initiative

In progress

November 2008

Mid-term review of the Research Capacity Development in Small Universities pilot program

Transfer payment

Planned

October 2008

Evaluation of Collaborative Research and Development Grants

Transfer payment

Planned

July 2009

Evaluation of NSERC Prizes

Transfer payment

Planned

November 2009

Evaluation of PromoScience program

Transfer payment

Planned

2009-2010

Evaluation of Strategic Partnerships programs

Transfer payment

Planned

2009-2010

Evaluation of the Canada Research Chairs

Transfer payment

Planned

2009-2010

Evaluation of the Special Research Opportunity program

Transfer payment

Planned

2010-2011

Evaluation of the Idea to Innovation program

Transfer payment

Planned

2010-2011

Evaluation of Fellowships programs

Transfer payment

Planned

2010-2011
Electronic links to evaluation reports: www.nserc.gc.ca/about/aud_eval_e.asp
www.nce.gc.ca/pubs_e.htm



Table 10. Upcoming Internal Audits


Internal Audits
In 2008-09, NSERC and SSHRC will be completing a merger of their internal audit units. Currently, the Internal Audit Team is developing detailed profiles of program components and evaluating risk exposures for the purpose of recommending internal audit projects for 2008-09. In addition, resources have been earmarked to assist in the conduct of horizontal audits, as may be directed by the Office of the Comptroller General. Specific projects have not yet been identified and, therefore, a list of upcoming audits is not available at the time of tabling of this report.
Electronic link to audit reports:
www.nserc.gc.ca/about/aud_eval_e.asp



Table 11. Services Received Without Charge


($ millions)

2008-09

Accommodation provided by Public Works and Government Services Canada

3.8

Contributions covering the employers’ share of employees’ insurance premiums and expenditures paid by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (excluding revolving funds)

1.8

Other services provided without charge

0.1

Total services received without charge

5.7




Table 12. Sources of Non-respendable Revenue


($ millions)

Forecast Revenue
2007-08

Planned Revenue
2008-09

Planned Revenue
2009-10

Planned Revenue
2010-11

Program Activity        
2.1 Fund Basic Research        
Refunds of previous years’ expenditures

1.3

1.3

1.3

1.3

Total non-respendable revenue

1.3

1.3

1.3

1.3


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