|Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear speaks to the media, as panel chair Tom Jenkins looks on, in Ottawa on October 14, 2011. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - Federal government R&D funding is less effective than it could be because it's too complicated and not focused enough.
That's the conclusion an expert panel has submitted to Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear.
"We need better co-ordination of R&D funding," said panel chair Tom Jenkins, noting there are 60 programs spread among 17 government departments doling out about $5 billion to fund scientific research.
"That's why our No. 1 recommendation is the creation of a new business-focused, arm's-length funding agency. It would be a one-stop shop for federal R&D support and by including business at the table it will ensure that government programs deliver meaningful results."
Among the panel's other recommendations are a call for a simplified R&D tax credit system for small and medium-sized businesses, and changing the National Research Council into a partnership that includes the provinces and business.
Meantime, Jenkins says there's no need to increase the $5 billion taxpayers shell out in direct funding and tax credits for R&D.
"There's no basis to argue an increase in the total envelope when one looks at (this) on a GDP (gross domestic product) basis when one looks at all the other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries," Jenkins said.
Goodyear welcomed the report, promising to give it full consideration.