National Research Council changes driven by business needs

You can set your clock by it but the Conservative government thinks the National Research Council is locked in time. It wants the NRC to focus more on research that will grow business. Critics say that could stifle creativity and innovation and ultimately hurt business.

Three of The Current

National Research Council changes - Minister of State for Science & Tech

We started this segment with the time signal. It's an experience most Canadians have with the National Research Council of Canada. It brings to mind an army of white coated scientists, running the experiments that make life in this country run smoothly. How smoothly?

Well, The NRC says its research helped turn an industrial lubricant into edible canola oil, helped Canadian athletes compete more aerodynamically at the Olympics, made the first computer animated film and helped develop the astronaut program.

But critics say the NRC doesn't do a good enough job of turning good science into sound business. And now, the federal government wants to push the National Research Council in a different direction. We aired a promotional video from the National Research Council's website.

And if it sounds more like a pitch for business services, rather than a pitch for pure science, that's part of the federal government's plan for the new NRC. Gary Goodyear is the Minister of State for Science and Technology and he was in Ottawa.

National Research Council changes - Advocate for Scientists

Our next guest says the changes proposed for the National Research Council won't make Canada any more innovative. Gary Corbett is the President and CEO of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. His group represents the 1,500 scientists and science support workers at the National Research Council, as well as 2,500 others in government related science. Gary Corbett was in Ottawa.

National Research Council changes - MIT Media Lab

Frank Moss concentrated on fostering innovation while he was the Director of the MIT Media Lab. He wrote a book about the experience: The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices - How The Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives. Frank Moss was in Austin, Texas.

This segment was produced by CBC St. John's producer, Heather Barrett.

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Last Word - Mona Lisa's Mystery

We've been talking this morning about the innovative edge of Canada's National Research Council. In 2004, the NRC was asked to bring equipment it had designed to Paris to analyze -- the Mona Lisa.

Over the course of two evenings, the scanner drew a detailed map of the lady's famous smile and her less-famous warp. On today's Last Word, how a Canadian technology revealed a few of Mona Lisa's mysteries.

Other segments from today's show:

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