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Globe editorial

Research is a public good

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

The federal budget needs to encourage scientific and medical research in Canada ...Read the full article

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  1. Peter Leventis from Canada writes: I sent a letter to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Finance on this very issue just prior to Christmas. On Tuesday, I got back a form letter talking in vague terms what may happen in the budget, none of which suggested an increased investment in scientific research. While I hope that the government improves funding in the upcoming budget for this vital industry (which employs a large number of people who are surprisingly not paid very highly), I will be surprised if they do.
  2. little Bear from Canada writes: Peter Let me ask you a question that has bothered me for some time.

    So we do a lot of research and develop and new widget that is the best in the world. Who benefits from this research?

    May I suggest that if it the foreign companies that are the main beneficiary of this research and Canada receives damn little.

    We have lost or are losing most of our major Canadian owned businesses and the ones who are left have to go outside the country to obtain funding and development even if they do create something.

    One company that comes to mind is Westport Innovations in Vancouver who developed a new diesel component and then had to go to the States and partner with Cummins diesel and now a Chinese outfit and also a European company to mfg it and create employment. This is only one example of many. Canada received little to no benefit from the R&D.

    We do nothing here with the research successes we have. Sell them to the States or China etc.
  3. Steve French from Windsor (Flint, North), Canada writes: When it's good research, yes. Bad research results in junk-science like 'second, third-hand smoke' which in turn creates junk social policy.
    Political agendas and propaganda should have nothing whatsoever to do with science.
  4. bill williams from Guelph from Canada writes: -

    Nothing could be a better first step in addressing the concerns described in this piece than federal money for universities. The stated concerns are valid, but there is a bigger one. University endowment funds and other sources of funding have been devastated by this incipient recession. People with ideas are our future. Stand universities on their feet. If we need special money for medical research, fine, but universities need to properly established. In the midst of financial crisis with enrollments climbing our schools are cutting back, laying off, and they still have no idea, even with all of this austerity, how they are going to make it through next year. At the time when our economy needs to be supercharged with an infusion of more qualified, knowledgeable, and imaginative people, our schools throttle down their ability to provide ANY of that.

  5. The Iconoclast from Canada writes: Money on research don't get votes!
  6. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: Already, Canada is not funding the best research. Under the CPC, the proportion of world-class quality research that is being funded has been reduced significantly. Unfortunately, when it comes to research, conservatives don't get it. They don't understand that China and India are rapidly increasing their funding of basic research because it has a proven track record of increasing the standard of living in countries that make those investments. Canada, in contrast, is on the opposite trajectory under Harper. Harper would turn our scientists from independent thinkers producing innovative research into technicians that apply existing knowledge for corporate purposes. This approach completely removes innovation from the equation and, equally importantly, amounts to nothing more than a business subsidy providing dollars for what would otherwise be an essential business expense. PMAC is an excellent example of this type of "research" support. What has PMAC got us? We pay more for drugs and expend patent protection all for the benefit of moving pharmaceutical research from private labs to publicly funded laboratories. In other words, while increasing the profits for multinational pharmaceutical companies, we provide public subsidies in exchange for this privilege of paying more for our drugs.
  7. little Bear from Canada writes: Bobby Dy. Why in this country does everybody feel that it is up to Gov. whereas in many countries it is the large companies that provide research grants etc. for research.

    We have many examples here in Canada of companies doing their own research with little or no Gov. money.

    If the Gov. wants to do something and get to hell out of the way and let research flourish, they can provide additional incentives through increased tax breaks for research and companies who provide grants for the research.

    I know of a medical research project at university that developed some new products. A small Canadian company was formed by the researches and then a large Yank outfit came in and bought the whole thing and moved it to Cal. along with the researchers, except for two who would not move.

    We have to do something with the results of the research when it is finished and not flog it to the Yanks or others.

    We are stupid
  8. K McIntyre from Oshawa, Canada writes: Steve French wrote: "When it's good research, yes. Bad research results in junk-science like 'second, third-hand smoke' which in turn creates junk social policy."

    People have to learn to distinguish between how scientific research actually works and how scientific research gets reported by the mass media.

    Casual readers, bloggers, and political commentators are never in a position to be able to tell the difference between useful research and meaningless or fringe results. This is because fields of study build up large bodies of knowledge over time, which most people are completely unaware of, and without being able to put a study or result in context it is usually impossible to tell how important it is.

    That doesn't stop science reporters from covering a study result with only a brief mention of context, and readers from getting an overblown or under-estimated opinion of the result (most people just subject what they read to their own confirmation bias, and form their opinion of the work accordingly). This is what happens with most claims of 'junk science' -- if the term is being used by somebody who hasn't extensively studied the field they are talking about, then take it with a 25kg bag of salt.
  9. K McIntyre from Oshawa, Canada writes: Back to the article: A product of research doesn't become a public good (in the economic sense, which is what the editorial is talking about) until after the patent expires -- about 20 years later.
  10. J Hare from Saskatoon, Canada writes: Government should require two new things from researchers in exchange for increased money. One is that the government own part of any pattent or product that is created as a result of this reasearch money. A 50% stake does not seem to high to me. Second, that the product must be manufactured in Canada. As a backup, if a researcher does recieve governemt funding then any pattent filed over the next 25 years or so of his or her carreer should be partially owned by the government on a sliding scale. Why should the Candian tax paier spend money on R and D if they never see a direct benifit? If science wants gov. support then it should be willing to contribute the goods to society who paied then to make it happen. Don't like it. Don't ask for Gov. funding.

    James Hare
  11. Mike Keith from Saskatoon, Canada writes: Harper and the cons won't increase funding for science. It's simply against their ideology, it would force them to take serious the harm-reduction strategies fron vancouver and global warming; both things that do not jive with their stone-age ideologies.
  12. Daniel Cunningham from Victoria, writes: The Theo-Cons increase funding for scientific research? Ya right like that's going to happen. Not. Just look at their muzzling of scientists in federal departments across the board. If it doesn't fit in with their political agenda then they don't consider it science. I'm amazed that they haven't started closing museums & shutting down archeology departments - I'm sure they wouldn't want people to think for themselves & realize that the earth is older than a couple thousand years like some of their wackjob MPs believe.
  13. little Bear from Canada writes: Some of you idiots are so full of hate for Harper that any brain you had has gone south.

    Try and have a discussion without all of the political crap.
  14. Steve French from Windsor (Flint, North), Canada writes: K McIntyre from Oshawa: The field is flooded with junk, and this discredits good research and undermines public confidence in science, in particular, social science. People are not the fools government takes them for, we know full well when bad social policy results from garbage 'research' with an obvious agenda.
    According to the press, everything is an epidemic, which of course requires swift government intervention in the form of junk social policy.
    And they expect taxpayers to be happy about paying for this merry go round?
  15. K McIntyre from Oshawa, Canada writes: That comes off a bit like a typical anti-science tirade from a right-wing commentator.

    What specifically do you mean when you talk about 'junk social policy' from 'junk science'?
  16. Mike M from Canada writes: Here's an easy way to stimulate investment in medical research - let people profit from it.
  17. Stewart Smith from Canada writes: The public financing of research occurs in all advanced countries. The reason that some juristictions appear to have substantially more funds flowing from industry is that in those countries public money flows in some cases directly to companies that then subcontract portions of the project to universities. This direct funding of research occurs in the US, Europe and Japan. In Canada, direct funding to companies is generally viewed as problematic and the preferred method of supporting company research is through tax credits. Some have argued this is a less effective way of stimulating really new innovations and companies since a tax credit has little value until the company starts to show a profit. (I agree)

    The fundamental business case for research to be done through private-public partnerships is a sharing of risk. By its definition research is a high-risk activity ie most research projects do not lead to dramatic economic development. However when a big success occurs the benefits to the region and the country are substantial. As a result, there are clear correlations between research activity and wealth creation. However as some of the above contributors have pointed out, successful research does not guarantee that the economic benefit will stay in the country.

    Putting the rest of the pieces in place to hang onto the value developed by research has been a struggle for Canada. Interested readers might check out two exceptional programs at Waterloo and McMaster to train students to transform research success into new companies and products.
  18. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: little Bear, industry does what is in the short term interests of industry. To paraphrase what someone told me many years ago, if we took that approach, we would have some very elaborate oil lamps as our primary source of light today (i.e., no electricity). Business cannot afford to do nearly what is required for the fundamental research that leads to the next generation of businesses and business products. Basic research dollars invested by government, in contrast, actually generate far more in return to the economy by creating those new businesses and laying the foundation for the next generation of products.
  19. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: Mike M, people do profit and can profit from research. Your comment, though, is one of ideology. It's factually incorrect. If you want to invest in medical research, you can buy up the intellectual property rights as part of the deal and reap the rewards. In practice, people profit plenty from this research once the discovery has been made. Governments invest in the discovery phase because the net needs to be cast widely in order to have a small number of payoffs. This is a pyramid. You need a very broad base of basic research (this requires government support, or, as in the case of RIM, philanthropy) to deliver a small number of next generation therapies, technologies, etc...

    The importance of your point, though, is that your statement exemplifies the simple-minded poorly informed state of CPC government. They have the same naive dogmatic understanding of the problem which is exactly why Canada is moving in reverse.
  20. Mike M from Canada writes: Bobby Dy - whose ideology is blinding who.

    To use one example, the US spends $182.16 per capita on pharmaceutical research and Canada spends $34.85 (these include both public and private monies).

    There was a research report by the Canadian Medical Association, entitled 'Funding for Canadian health care research' that discussed this fact.
  21. Peter Lucas from langley, Canada writes: I think governments could not build a two-person outhouse efficiently. Government brought Canadians the gazillion dollar gun registry.

    So, I think taxpayer funding (governments have no money) of R & D, when projects are chosen by governments is a huge waste of money. Government attempts at encouraging R & D on a broad basis, such as the SRTC program, invite rape and pillage of the taxpayers.

    I support stronger intellectual property ownership rules and letting universities raise fees, because I think these measures would lead to better R & D. More government squelches it.
  22. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ little Bear: Well, looking at Harper's actual performance in the hard science field, let alone social sciences and the arts, a responsible and reasonable citizen would be derelict in their duty as a citizen to not criticize Harper. Very harshly and strongly. What's your excuse?
  23. Steve French from Windsor (Flint, North), Canada writes: 'typical anti-science tirade from a right-wing commentator.'

    Right, The public holds social engineering in such high esteem, I know, let's blame the media.
    Believe what you want.
  24. little Bear from Canada writes: Orest unlike some of you I think that private enterprize should be funding any research like it does in many other countries. It appear you are still on the teat and need it to survive.

    Orest on most every blog and post you make you are bleating and crying about how the Gov. is not changing somebodys dirty nappys.

    This country needs to grow up and go after funding and grants from sources other than the tax payers.
  25. little Bear from Canada writes: Mike M Try and keep in mind that on every blogg where Orest and Bobby Dy post they are crying and bleating about Harpo or the Gov. and how they are not giving money away fast enough.

    These two have not had an original thought for a long time.

    There are those trying to make the point that our Gov. needs to put more money into R&D and making some good points but not these two.

    Like trying to reason with two year olds.

    Good night. Off to bed.

  26. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: Mike M, why is there so much more investment of private research dollars in the U.S.? It starts with the 10X per capita public spending on research in the U.S. This creates critical mass in terms of highly trained individuals to work in those private laboratories and in terms of public sector scientists who generate IP that private industry such as pharma is interested in investing in. The relative lack of private investment in Canada actually reflects the amount of publicly funded research in Canada. The U.S., I repeat, spends 10X per capita in publicly funded health research and that generates the opportunity for far more private investment.
  27. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: Peter Lucas, you are correct in stating that the more government directs research, the less effective those dollars are. The only investment that the Harper government has made in research has exclusively been targeted. They handed out more money to 6 research institutes than those institutes can absorb and the total ($600 million) vastly exceeded the below inflation increases in the competitive research grants systems (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC). That $600 million will most surely be wasted. Meanwhile, multiple studies have shown that the Canadian health research system through its open grants competition gets the highest quality research for its investment dollar than anywhere else in the world. The talent is here. Let them compete for dollars based on the merits of the research and not allocate dollars based on political motives.
  28. Tallulah A from Canada writes: It is obvious few of those in this conversation have any idea what a researcher actually does. The Government does not directly decide what projects get funded it decides what broad areas such as Health or Forestry or Genetics etc.. get money. Research can be done at several levels as well. 1) The first scientists do basic research into how the world works, at this point they have no idea whether the research will is useful for anything at all. 2) The second set of scientists look at what #1 has done and thinks of the idea for a product that could use what #1 found out to do something useful. 3) If what #2 does shows that the product is possible #3 tries to make something like the product to see if it is practical. If it is practical they will patent it and try to find a company who will try to make it a reality, or they might try to start up their own company to do so. Even with all that the vast majority of the products tried by the companies end up with too many side-effects or being too hard to make large scale and end up in the trash. No private company will fund researchers #1 or #2 since the amount of time before any results are shown is enormous. Some private citizens will fund researchers #2 since they are the ones who 'cure cancer' and can get a reputation private citizens can understand. Very rarely will researcher #1 get any money from sources other than government, but as you see without them there would be nothing for researchers #2 and #3 and the private companies to build on. Also the researchers have to: teach the next generation through courses, create/update said courses, run labs, hire students/staff, endlessly write grants so they can continue to pay the people they have hired, keep up to date with recent research in their field, review other researchers papers and grants etc.. They do all this and get paid substainally less than they would in the private sector.
  29. Jimmy K from Toronto, Canada writes: Yes.

    I maintain the reason for the lack of productivity in Canada can be directly correlated to the lack of high quality research work being done in Canada. In terms of money spent on research as a percentage of our economy, we are one of the LAST countries in the entire OECD. This means our living standards are high based on our past achievements. We're living on borrowed time, we're not moving forward.

    We know how to harness our land, our natural resources well, but can we create and invent things? We tried the usual capitalist model. Create incentives and they will come. The incentives in Canada are there. We have TONS of researchers who aren't researching for lack of demand, we have a tax system that basically lets them write off 150% of the cost, yet still, nothing? Perhaps it's time for the government to actual kick start this process with their own money. Perhaps the government needs to be the spark that gets this going. Let's not forget some of the greatest inventions of the 20th century were the direct result of government research, in fact this very page you are reading, on the internet, was due to government research. Perhaps we in Canada need to rethink our belief that all it takes is the right incentives and the private sector will do it, because it seems the private sector in Canada is content with just digging, chopping, or fishing, and nothing more.
  30. Peter Lucas from langley, Canada writes: Bobby Dy, I have no doubt that world class talent can be found in Canada. And if Canada decides to fund research with taxpayer dollars, let not the bureaucrats decide which projects to fund. Let any taxpayer funding be done by objective standards - not government policy.

    Jimmy K, you advocate governments spend their own money. Governments have no money - they can only spend current or future taxpayer money.
  31. Mike M from Canada writes: Bobby Dy from Canada writes: Mike M, why is there so much more investment of private research dollars in the U.S.? It starts with the 10X per capita public spending on research in the U.S. This creates critical mass in terms of highly trained individuals to work in those private laboratories and in terms of public sector scientists who generate IP that private industry such as pharma is interested in investing in. The relative lack of private investment in Canada actually reflects the amount of publicly funded research in Canada. The U.S., I repeat, spends 10X per capita in publicly funded health research and that generates the opportunity for far more private investment.

    Sorry, but you're mistaken again. It's surprising that you started off talking about the importance of facts versus ideology, yet all your comments contain are ideology and no fact at all. The US does not get anywhere near the public subsidies for research that you are claiming they do.
  32. K McIntyre from Oshawa, Canada writes: Products primarily the result of government-funded research:
    - The Internet
    - GPS
    - Electronic computers
    - Jet engines
    - Mass-produced antibiotics

    Products primarily the result of privately funded research:
    - Airplanes
    - Transistors
    - Graphical user interfaces for computers
    - Light bulbs
    - Automobiles

    It should be pretty obvious that research and development benefit from both public and private funding.
  33. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: Canadians spend about $20/yr/person on federally-funded competitively awarded medical research. A doubling of that amount is trivial in terms of its impact on tax dollars but would make an enormous difference in terms of a critical mass of basic research and attracting private investment in biomedicine in Canada. Toronto, as of last year, at least, was rated the number 3 city in the world to start up biotech. In part, that is because Toronto is one of the few places in this country that trains sufficient numbers of individuals to provide the HQP required to operate these businesses.
  34. Peter Lucas from langley, Canada writes: Bobby Dy, if Canada wanted to improve its position in medical research, it could make the rules on ownership of intellectual property stronger. No one wants to risk and work hard unless ownership of the resultant property is secure.
  35. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: One of the key problems with Canadian R&D is the lack of follow-through on the 'D'. Too many of the university researchers that I have been involved with are great at the fundamental 'R' side of the equation, but they do not have the industrial/practical experience to perform product development or manufacturability studies.

    One solution would be to provide provisions within the funding mechanisms for forcing greater collaboration with non-university researchers such as industrial practitioners and college instructors (as part of a team). Unfortunately the college system, which has very significant physical resources and many of industry experienced professionals, remains a great untapped source of practical 'D' resources in this country.

    My firm has suggested this type of collaboration with a university research team in the past but unfortunately our ideas were soundly rejected. Too many university researchers have never worked outside of the very sheltered confines of academia and have absolutely no idea of what it takes to take a concept into reality.
  36. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: One interesting success story that supports my previous post is the story of Intergran in the business section ("Gino Palumbo took your questions").

    This company used fundamental university metallurgical research and collaborated with an industrial lab (Ontario Hydro) to develop initial applications. Since spinning off this firm has combined the skills of basic research and the practical training of college educated technologists to continually develop new applications and systems for their unique nano-crystalline metal alloys.

    This is perhaps a model that more university researchers need to consider. One reason that this type of program is not often pursued to fruition is the lack of opportunities to publish research papers, often in very obscure journals, which are the 'meat & potatoes' of only the university community.
  37. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ little Bear: Private industry does almost no pure R & D - the sort that eventually leads to new products and devices. That is what is done primarily by academics at universities. And it can take a long time for pure research to lead to "practical" results.

    For a really good example, see the time lag between the development of nuclear and quantum physics theory - which took a long time, the subsequent invention of the transistor, how long it took after that for transistors to become used in consumer products. I remember when products were marketed on the basis of having 7 instead of 6 transistors. I wonder if you even have a clue what I am talking about.

    Now, consider how long it took for integrated circuits to appear after the appearance of discrete transistors. Then remember how long it took for CPUs to reach a practical stage. That was about 80 years.

    And none of that would have been possible without the pure theory R & D by the likes of Bohr, Rutherford, Heisenberg, Schroedinger Einstein, Fermi, and all the others.

    The development of the transistor would not have been possible without the work of these "eggheads". And the transistor is a good example of applied R & D.

    Private industry does mostly applied research and engineering. And most of that "should" be "privately" funded. But in reality, much of that work is directly funded by the taxpayer. By way of assorted contracts for items and services. See, especially, the military side. But many other firms have government contracts.

    What you need to explain is the logical, theoretical and practical difference between a direct government grant to research conducted at a university and the research paid for by a contract with the same government for products and services. Do you think that the source of the funds for the two different streams comes from different sources?
  38. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ Steve French: You sound like you would like a return to the good old days of segregation, lynchings and the "uppity ethnics" - like me - kept in their place.

    That too was "social engineering". Based on truly junk science.

    You're just PO'ed that you aren't on top anymore.

    Too bad, so sad.

    Whiner and loser that you are.

    Where it gets really funny is that you are a classic example of the anti-intellectualism and anti-education of the RRW. After all, educated, thinking people are much harder to manipulate for political purposes.

    And R & D requires educated, thinking people who ask all sorts of questions.
  39. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ K McIntyre: Transistors wouldn't exist without the physics theory generated by assorted publicly funded university researchers. In several countries. The very idea and concept of transistors was a direct result of these nuclear and quantum physics theories and their description of reality.

    There aren't too many products that aren't - one way or another - a result of some sort of government funding. Not even Edison, or Tesla, were able to operate without it.
  40. Steve French from Windsor (Flint, North), Canada writes: 'Orest Zarowsky'

    What on earth are you babbling about?
  41. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ Steve French: I'm "babbling" about your mentality and politics. Your "observations" about junk science are the first, and most important clue to that. Typical RRW claptrap.
  42. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ little Bear: As opposed to your blind support of Harper and the RRW?
  43. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: That development part is also closely tied to the lack of venture capital here. Not to mention the lack of interest in such projects by assorted financial institutions here.

    As for the example you cited, there are two critical points.

    The first, and most important being the "fundamental" research done at the university - which is the primary job of university researchers.

    The second being - indirectly - the failure of our financial system to support the development side of the applications of the fundamental research done at universities.

    You may also want to consider the point that these innovative new products wouldn't exist without the pure, theoretical research done at the universities.

    Another point you may want to address and discuss is how pretty well all of Canada's successful companies are sold off to foreign companies. And, when that happens, the R & D done by them is miraculously transferred out of Canada. See ATI for example.
  44. K McIntyre from Oshawa, Canada writes: Orest wrote: "Transistors wouldn't exist without the physics theory generated by assorted publicly funded university researchers. In several countries."

    Sure, and similarly, all the innovations on the public funding list indirectly benefits from earlier private efforts.

    It's often hard to distinguish what comes from what, because there is no comprehensive list of what university research is privately funded and what is publicly funded. The Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, for instance, is funded by both.
  45. Steve French from Windsor (Flint, North), Canada writes: 'I'm "babbling" about your mentality and politics. Your "observations" about junk science are the first'

    What politics? What mentality? What anti-intellectualism?
    I didn't resort to name-calling, you, and others, did.
    My concern is the perceptions of 'The Public' in regards to science and academia.
    Maybe an example would actually help but I think I'm wasting my time on this forum of petulant children.
    There was a book published in the 90's called 'The Bell Curve' written by several high-standing psychologists (Princeton, Harvard, I can't recall).
    From a pure research point of view, this book was pure trash, but apparently it went right to print without any real researchers getting a chance to look at the data.
    Would you base social policy on such nonsense?
    Why am I saying the book was nonsense?
    Enlighten me.
  46. little Bear from Canada writes: Orest I am not and would not vote for Harper and am not a Con supporter but do get very tired of political ranting from either side.

    Your last post was the first one that I have ever seen from you that had any substance. It proves that you can do it when jolted.

    Keep up the good work.
  47. little Bear from Canada writes: Orest OK now that we have the pissing match out of the way ( I won), I agree with you on the fact that many if not most of Canadian Companies that research and develop anything are sold off to foreigners and the research goes with them.

    I personally know of two companies, as I said in my previous posts, that are now located with the research and most of the people in California.

    The question is not whether this happens but why?

    A study I saw on the G&M several months ago stated that the majority of investors on the TSE were foreigners and I think that is true.

    To me, what that seems to tell me is that Canadians are too conservative (don't get excited Orest) and do not like risk. Some time ago I took a little survey of some of my friends (13) and of the bunch there were three of us who invest in Canadian stocks and the rest were in some mutuals and GICs.

    A country that relys on foreign investors will not survive
  48. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Orest Zarowsky: I could not even attempt to try to understand the geo-political or global financial reasons why Canada cannot capitalize on government funded R&D. From personal experience at the working level however I, and the leadership of my firm, have essentially given up on trying to collaborate with university researchers because of the reasons that I stated above. We have sought help from the universities (including my alma mater) on several occasions to try and resolve serious manufacturing issues that we were having with new product and manufacturing process developments only to no avail. They were only interested in long-term fundamental research over a multi-year timeline with the motivation of getting publications that would further their academic career. We have had great success with our local college faculty on small projects, however they are funded to allow for non-teaching activities like the universities (they are busy teaching all of the time). Universities only schedule their staff for a couple of courses per semester but we found that the college teachers are teaching much more than this and are not available to work on other projects. It is a pity that we can't even get these two complementary groups to work together in this country to fill-in the gap between 'R' and workable products or process support.
  49. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ little Bear: "Right then - we'll call it a draw.". You: the Black Knight; Me: King Arthur. MP's "The Holy Grail". And you really need to work on that reading comprehension thingy.

    As for why our successful companies - and resources - are sold off, that's mainly a political issue, as far as I can tell.

    That "open for business" concept. So beloved of the neo-cons - like you demonstrably are - that keep pushing "foreign" investment.

    While not taking any steps to encourage the development of a Canadian-based venture capital system that is willing to invest in Canadian companies.

    What do you think the odds are that the US would allow the sale to foreign interests of a strategic company like AMD (bought ATI), Intel, TI, HP or any other high tech company? These are all national security and interest firms.

    The laws barring the export of the products of these companies to "unfriendly" states are still on the books - and quietly enforced. How much less likely is the sale of these companies?

    You say: "A country that relys on foreign investors will not survive", which is exactly right. So, why are you supporting this?
  50. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ Steve French: And then we had Phillipe Rushton at Western. You may remember him? But the real point about both cases - and others like them - is that they were immediately and throughly trashed and debunked. And, no I wouldn't base social - or any other policy - on such nonsense. But it has been done. Many times. All to maintain the existing power structure.

    You should read a book called "The Mismeasure of Man" by Stephen Jay Gould. Very interesting - especially the chapter where he discusses the 1917 US Army IQ tests and the subsequent work done by Yerkes - of Yale - in the mid-twenties - that led to all sorts of interesting immigration policies in the US. And yet, it was shown later that Gould himself was subject apriori bias when interpreting Yerkes's work. You may also be interested in the rest of Gould's books as well.

    So far, Steve, you haven't shown in any significant way that you are not a RRW shill. Your conflation of hard science and social science as one category is a good giveaway.

    The functional hard science equivalent of your example is the cold fusion debacle in the 90's.

    What is interesting is that the examples from the Social sciences that you cite are intended to support and maintain the existing pecking order - as usual.

    The hard science debacles are all a result of get rich quick schemes.

    Both of which are directly related to RRW "thinking" and ideology.

    Your blanket assertions are just another tool in the disinformation kit the likes of Rove deploy.

    If you're going to critique the bogus stuff, you had better be more careful with the language you use and the details you provide.

    I remain unconvinced that you are anything other than a RRW troll and shill.
  51. Steve French from Windsor (Flint, North), Canada writes: That's what I figured.
    Just another uneducated partisan big-mouth who can't back up anything.
  52. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ Steve French: You're a Troll.
  53. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: These are the results of P3 as applied to University research. The first clue is that it is the University, not the Prof, that reaps the bulk of the "profit" from any of these consortiums.

    The result is that they are not very interested in the downrange nitty-gritty that you have to deal with.

    The solution to your production problems that the University administration wants to hear is that you will hire selected Profs, mostly engineers, as consultants. At very fat pay grades.

    The core point here is that this is all a direct result of two things.

    First, underfunding of the educational system. Mostly for ideological reasons on the right wing end of the spectrum, and short term budgetary reasons by the centrists and left. Long term investments are not something that delivers votes.

    Second, the lack of a reasonable and intelligent venture capital and funding system here.
  54. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Orest Zarowsky: Yes, but I can't help but wonder why the funding bodies don't steer some percentage of the grants towards the colleges. If they were allowed to develop capability in R&D I think that would be of great assistance to Canadian industry on shorter term projects, especially if they were to collaborate with universities who are better at the long-term fundamental part of the picture.
  55. little Bear from Canada writes: Orest You must be on something as I am certainly not supporting any such thing.

    The point is that until Canadians determine that R&D and developing our own, we can expect more of the same.

    I get very tired of everything in this country revolving around the Gov. Are we such boobies that we have to remain on the teat for ever.

    I keep remembering that Westport Innovations in order to survive had to take their research and go outside of the country as no private companies would provide any funding.

    We have damn few major companies left in this country and we are now a subsiduary to most of the major countries and their companies and this trend is increasing.

  56. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: I am a Ryerson graduate - when it was still Polytechnical. Community Colleges were never intended to do R & D - they were glorified technical and trade schools.

    Having attended U of G in the Marine Biology programme - had to withdraw for health reasons, and having close friends that went to Community College, I can comment on the differences between these institutions.

    The most important difference between university, community college and Ryerson - as a polytechnical, which it still is - is the lefvel of theoretical vs practical training. Unioversity is primarily theoretical, community college is primarily practical. And Ryerson is somewhere in the middle.

    University teaches why and how the buttons are pushed, but not how to push them. Community colleges do the opposite. Ryerson does the combo thing.

    This is why approaching community colleges is not necessarily a good idea. You might want to consider Ryerson as a source of solutions to your process problems.

    But this doesn't address the financing and capitalization issue. Nor does it address the fact that pretty well all of our successful companies and individuals end up having to leave Canada to prosper.

    If we had a better venture capital system in place, we'd be doing much better. Economically, financially and scientifically.

    Why aren't business people like you working to achieve that?
  57. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ little Bear: Uh Huh. Yeah right! Your own posts make it clear that you are a sellout. And an idiot shill for the RRW.

    As for "Are we such boobies that we have to remain on the teat for ever." you are being disingenuous at best.

    Throughout history, it has been the government that has funded the sciences, arts and social progress. Who do you think paid for the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? One of the most important developments of the 19-th and 20-th Centuries has been the private funding and support of R & D.

    But there is a critical caveat to that development. That being that the bulk of private funding for R & D has been applied, as opposed to pure, R & D.

    Not even Intel has developed new theoretical research. All they have done is extend the work of academics. It is true that they - and others - have done an excellent job of extending the work of academics. But they haven't come up with new breakthroughs in fundamental physics, chemistry or biology.

    Returning to the issue of the "Government teat", how about the following names for you to contemplate - and where they got their funding.

    Can you say: Leonardo da Vinci; Michaelangelo; Blaise Pascal; J. S. Bach; G. F. Handel; Mozart; Priestly; Faraday and all the rest of them? And then there are all the recent guys and gals who have won the Nobel prize in assorted science fields. The only ones of note that were entirely privately funded were the Curies.

    You haven't got a leg to stand on, bucko.
  58. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ little Bear: Why aren't you lobbying your MP and MPP to address these funding issues? As opposed to demanding more tax cuts.
  59. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: "University teaches why and how the buttons are pushed, but not how to push them. Community colleges do the opposite. Ryerson does the combo thing."

    What utter nonsense. I'm a university graduate but I've also graduated from college (and I have a journeyman's trade qualifications to boot). You obviously have no idea of what colleges do or the caliber of their instructors and facilities. My point is that the universities are great at fundamental research but too often lack the practical perspective in terms of putting things in motion on the shop floor. We are missing out because these two groups don't work together more closely.

    As for me being in charge of my firm’s venture capital and R&D budget; I wish.
  60. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: Most Community college course are pretty short on the theory side. A friend of mine went through the electrical program at Humber College. He was less than impressed at the time. He is even less impressed now that he is a professional electrician.

    In my field - analytical chemistry - let me assure you that even a 3-year diploma from a Community college doesn't produce very knowledgeable people. And I'm talking about basics here.

    There are some exceptions of course. Sheridan's animation course being one. And nursing being another.

    So, it depends on which particular programme one goes through at Community college.

    You say you wish you were in charge of your company's R & D budget. That was not what I meant.

    What I meant was: why aren't you and your bosses and the rest of the business community lobbying the government to create the regulatory and support environment - not just tax incentives - that would enable the development of a decent venture capital environment?

    Also, why aren't you guys pushing the MBA schools to require their students to get some technical and scientific training as a graduation requirement?

    For that matter, why does the business community in general grossly over-value MBAs while undervaluing technologists, engineers and scientists?
  61. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Orest: I would agree that college programs are highly variable, but you should be aware that these programs vary from short certificates all the way to 4-yr degrees now; essentially these programs fill the void left when Ryerson 'transformed' into a university.

    We really do need that style of institution (Polytechnic) again in this province. They have them in Quebec (e.g., ETS), BC (BCIT), and Alberta (SAIT/NAIT); they would bridge the gap between technology and science/engineering.

    I would say however that having experienced both types of institutions (colleges & universities) that the quality of the instruction at the colleges is far superior, primarily due to the industrial experience of the faculty.

    As for the MBA comments, I couldn't agree more. I've seen these idiots come and go and of course do allot of damage in-between. Certainly that MBA 'smartest guys in the room' thinking is now working its magic on the global economic system.

  62. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: Ryerson became a "University" because businesses here had no clue what a Polytechnical Institute was. And how to "slot" the graduates in the job stream. What is a B. Tech anyways?

    It was getting difficult for Ryerson grads to get jobs - all those MBA geniuses in HR and other slots. Not to mention the Community college grads who were basically grunts.

    So Ryerson became a "university".

    Except that it isn't.

    It's still a Polytechnical Institute.

    Like Cal Tech or MIT, or Rochester Institute of Technology, but not as famous.

    Stupid Canadian business community.

    It's not just the lack of a functional venture capital system that is hampering us here.

    The level of instruction at all post-secondary institutions varies. And the critical variable is the instructor.

    I had both great and dismal insructors / profs at both U of G and Ryerson. I doubt that the case would be different at any Community college. I also think I made it very clear that Community college programmes are varied in quality. Tragically, much more so than at higher levels.

    As for you agreeing with me about MBAs, the point you haven't addressed is why you and the rest of the business community are sitting on your thumbs and rotating. Instead of actually doing something about it.
  63. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: Orest: Just what the heII am I supposed to do about this? I'm the QA Manager at as 35 person metal fabrication firm. I certainly don't consider myself the spokesperson the "business community".

    When we run into trouble welding and fabricating new alloys and turn to the universities for help we get turned away (despite the fact that they have the analytical capability) long term R&D potential. When we turn to the colleges they don't have any available faculty time to take on R&D projects (despite the fact that they have the equipment and industrial experience).

    We have been willing to fund the contract R&D work, but we can’t wait for 4-yrs for the university to ‘study’ the issue, we need much faster answers. We would hire in our own expertise but no university in Canada teaches welding engineering, so basically we are left spinning by the system.

    P.S. – I also studied at Ryerson in the early 80’s (a part-time Metallurgy Cert.), so I’m quite familiar with how it used to operate. It went from being a great Polytech to a mediocre university.
  64. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: Maybe you should go back to Ryerson - they have a better grasp of these process applications than either the Community colleges or the Universities do.
  65. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Orest: Unfortunately Ryerson dropped their Metallurgy program and its expertise many years ago. They used to have good expertise, but no more.
  66. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: Man, I feel for you. But you business guys really do need to do some more intelligent lobbying. And I still think that your best option remains good old Rye-High. Those lockers in Kerr Hall are especially amusing.

    But, there is no reason your company can't hire the "experts" at the University or Ryerson as "consultants".

    You just have to be willing to pay them enough cash.

    You'd be amazed at what an "appropriate" quantity of cash will get you.

    This especially funny because such arrangements are the direct result of the RRW ideologically-based hatred of "eggheads" and science.

    It's way too funny how the RRW and business - especially big business - are joined at the hip. With predictable and serious consequences. None of which can be called "positive". But the best part is the whining.
  67. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Orest: I'm deducing from your posts that you have never worked anywhere that had to make money to stay in business (although I’m sure that you will correct me if I'm wrong on that point).

    This is one of the major problems when businesses try to work with academics who have no industry work experience. The concept of time and financial pressures to get answers to problems are alien concepts to them.

    It is a major 'culture-clash' when industry technical personnel sit across the table from university academics. No university prof should be in those positions without some industrial experience (it makes a much better teacher too).
  68. Orest Zarowsky from Toronto, Canada writes: @ The Great Gazoo: Your deduction is wrong. I've worked in all sorts of shops. Mostly non-union. I now work for the Provincial government. I can make lots of interesting observations about the differences and similarities between the private and public sector.

    Your deductive reasoning needs some remedial work.

    The private sector's biggest failure is its short-term thinking. The second most important failure of the private sector is the greed of the senior management and owners.

    Oh yeah, FYI: I hit 50 last year. I've been working, one way or another, since I was 16. I have a sneaky suspicion that I may have a few insights.

    I agree with you that most profs would benefit from practical experience, but given some of the twits that taught me at Ryerson, that isn't always the case.

    I got my B. Tech in Laboratory Science. Graduated in 86.

    Maybe what you really need to do is work on that employee training and development thingy. Another place where most Canadian firms fail.

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