PM pledges cash to boost private R&D

Canada lags behind global competitors when it comes to training the next generation of scientists and engineers whose innovations will fuel our economy, PM Stephen Harper says.

Canadaislagging behind international competitors when it comes to training the next generation of scientists and engineers, whose innovations are critical to Canada's economy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

Speakingin Waterloo, Ont., Thursday, Harper saidthe federalConservativegovernment plans to boost private research and development with its new science and technology strategy.

Mike Lazaridis (left) of Research in Motion looks on as Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces Canada's new science and technology strategy in Waterloo, Ont., on Thursday. ((Frank Gunn/Canadian Press))
He said the plan is designed to reverseyears of declining private-sector involvement in research and development in Canada, causing the country to fall far behind other G8 nations in the area.

"Canada has long been a leader in science and technology achievements, but we've got some work to do to put ourselves back on the forefront of innovation," Harper told a gathering of researchers and investors atWaterloo's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

"No country can remain prosperous and healthy without reinvesting a proportion of its wealth in science and technology."

The strategyalso calls for bolstering falling enrolment in university science and engineering programs with scholarships and increased funding for research internships.

Harper said the government plans to tap into what he called the "creative genius" of Canada's scientists and its entrepreneurs, as well as make the country more attractive to foreign investment and researchers.

For too many years, government, academia and business have been "isolated silos," unlike research and development partnerships in the United States that benefit from clear communications with each other, the prime minister added.

The strategy is part of the $9.2 billion for total science and technology investments previously announced in the federal budget.