Western applauds research fund in federal budget

Western President Amit Chakma applauded the Canadian government for creating a $1.5 billion plan to bolster innovative research at Canada’s universities as part of the 2014 federal budget.

The 10-year plan will include the establishment of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund to support research with $50 million for 2015-16; growing to $100 million in 2016-17; $150 million in 2017-18, and reaching annual support of $200 million in 2018-19 and beyond.

“We are pleased that the government is continuing to invest in research and innovation efforts at Canada’s universities, recognizing their important connection to a strong economy,” Chakma said. “I am equally pleased that this initiative will attract and retain the best academic talent, stimulate the rate of ground-breaking discoveries and drive further success in connecting universities with businesses that are ready to adapt research and to ultimately become more globally competitive.”

Approximately $37 million annually will go to four granting councils, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council with money flowing to targeted areas such as physics and quantum computing research and the automotive sector, as well as $9 million for indirect costs on an on-going basis. The federal government has now increased funding for research and innovation each year since 2006.

Chakma, who also serves as chair the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, said, “This approach will allow universities like Western to expand their competitiveness as it seeks to grow its international presence through partnerships and outreach programs.”

An important inclusion in the budget was an investment of $1.25 billion in support of a new landmark agreement with the Assembly of First Nations to overhaul aboriginal education at the K-12 level.

“Western believes this will encourage more aboriginal students to pursue a post-secondary education,” Chakma said.