This article from Nature News reports that the NRC is moving even further away from basic research. The Research Council, which was already leaning more toward the industry side of things, announced that it will be taking an additional 20% of its funding away from institution and bringing it under the control of the Executive Committee, “which will direct it towards research with a focus on economic development, rather than pure science.” All told, 80% of the funding will be set aside for research pertinent to “economic development,” with the paltry remainder of 20% reserved for more basic pursuits. Showing a complete misunderstanding of how the scientific community works, NRC President John McDougall justifies the move thus: “Duplicating the efforts of universities at NRC doesn’t make much sense.” This philosophy is not surprising given his beginnings in the petroleum industry. Accordingly, one of the four flagship projects of the new model is “using algae to soak up carbon dioxide emissions from industry.” If Canada ends up with a Conservative government next week, watch for this project being bandied about as a viable way to reduce emmissions and way justify keeping the Alberta tar sands going ahead full steam.
For an example of a great institute that is likely going to get hit with cuts, check out the Canadian Rivers Institute, which consults with governments world wide on fresh water management.