Progress

In the past decade, as national and international financial resources have declined, there has been a global trend toward supporting applied science with direct links to industry. These trends have a direct impact on young researchers who refrain from choosing fundamental science as their main occupation in order to increase their chances to develop a scientific career and obtain seed funding. Naturally, the impacts of these trends are of a global nature and addressing them may shape the future of our scientific world. This WG is seeking concrete statistics on fundamental vs. applied research funding from a suite of countries, and aims to demonstrate the importance of fundamental research through empirical evidence and compelling arguments.

The WG is currently collecting further survey data on perceptions of research funding in low and middle-income countries.

Outcomes

The group has just published its report on “Restoring Canada’s Competitiveness in Fundamental Research: The View from the Bench” in June 2017. The report by GYA members Julia Baum and Jeremy Kerr reveals that Canada’s support for fundamental research crumbled over the past decade, due to the previous government’s disregard for fundamental research. As a result, many accomplished researchers in Canada are now left completely unfunded and Canada’s future as global leader for innovation and discovery is at stake.

Complementing Canada’s recently released Fundamental Science Review, the new report uniquely provides the perspective of over 1,300 members of the Canadian research community, from the on-line survey that was conducted for the report.
Dismantling support for fundamental research has changed the very nature of how science is conducted in Canada and had a profound impact on the Canadian research community. Strikingly – and primarily in response to the loss of fundamental research funding – the proportion of researchers who reported that they only conduct fundamental research collapsed from 24% for 2006-2010 to <2% for 2011-2015.

The accumulated funding gap for fundamental research in Canada had reached $535 million by 2015. Canada’s new Liberal government began to address this deficit with the 2016 federal budget, adding $76 million to the three granting councils. The report’s authors suggest that investment of $459 million – the outstanding funding gap – for fundamental research is needed.

 

Report
Infographic Fundamental Research
Infographic Canada
Press Release