Ontario puts aside $90 million for R&D award

TORONTO — Ontario’s Energy, Science and Technology minister said a $90-million fund gets Ontario moving towards achieving the ministry’s goal.

“This will help bring the province one step closer to being the No. 1 location for R&D in North America,” said Jim Wilson at The Ontario R&D Summit. “A bold goal, but one, as you know, we are committed to.”

The Ontario Innovation Trust approved $90 million over five years for the Ontario Distinguished Researcher Awards. The goal is to reward top researchers with infrastructure support. Deputy minister Bryne Purchase said this is part of its vision to enhance awareness and stimulate interest in science and technology, build a critical mass of researchers, and help answer a critical question.

“How do we build an incentive structure that really moves science and technology out of the lab and into the marketplace?” said Purchase. “How do we get commercialization of the really interesting and innovative ideas?”

This problem, however, won’t be solved by throwing money at it. Purchase said the private sector, financiers and scientists need to be brought together, adding government can serve as a catalyst for these unions.

Research in Motion Ltd.’s Mike Lazaridis says members of the scientific community have told him two things.

“They said, ‘I want to be recognized for my work, and I want my research invested,'” said the president and co-CEO of the Waterloo, Ont-based company and programs like ODRA will go a long way towards bringing Canadians home.

Lazaridis said it’s important to invest in projects with near term commercial value, but it is equally important to encourage less obvious research.

“To ensure the long term economic future success of Ontario, we’re talking about things, five, 10, 20, 30, 50 years out. We also need to invest in fundamental research that may not show an obvious promise or economic impact,” Lazaridis said.

The second annual R&D Summit featured workshops led by public and private-sector organizations on development projects and business strategy.

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