Marshalling Science, Technology and Innovation to Solve Global Problems: International Perspectives (CSPC2021, Pre-conference sessions)

Hello, and welcome to a very special dispatch from scientificanada. I’m your host Adam Fortais. Soon, the Canadian Science Policy Conference will begin, but before it does, we’ve got a handful of pre-conference panels and sessions to wet (whet) our whistles, so to speak. I will be doing my best to provide some coverage of the sessions as they come. I’m predicting that I will get overwhelmed at some point in the next two weeks, so don’t expect a nightly debrief, but I’ll do my best to get these out as quickly as possible. 

I will be taking notes and recording audio so you can access this stuff however you find most comfortable. The audio will be uploaded to YouTube in case you are looking for captioning. If there are any other ways I can make these more accessible, let me know and I’ll do my best to accommodate.

LISTEN // CAPTION


Organized by: National Research Council Canada

The climate crisis cannot be addressed by any single organization, sector, country, or even region. Research in universities and laboratories around the globe must be commercialized if we are to succeed. This panel draws on experts playing a key role in enabling innovation in  Canada, Japan, Norway, Germany and the UK, which are all recognized leaders in climate change related research, innovation and technology. Panelists will present their initiatives addressing climate change, and the role of international partnerships. The session will highlight successes, underline pitfalls, and discuss innovation and commercialization policy approaches that can most effectively address the climate crisis.


My main takeaway from this session was that “we all want collaborations”. Many have industry-led collaborative approaches. I will say, a lot of the session felt like name-dropping different initiatives and quoting numbers which is probably useful for some, but from my perspective, a lot of that was too in-the-weeds for me. However, there were some interesting questions from the moderator and audience that I’ll highlight, and then get into some odds and ends from the session. Like Japan’s Moonshot Program, whose Step One is focused on Cybernetic Avatars… But first… 

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Q: How are you attracting and bringing in new players to your various activities and programs? How are you ensuring these players are successful at engaging with each other?

Mike (UK): Boil innovation into “inspire, involve, invest”… Show them then involve them… (more specifics?) Funding competitions plus big advertising. Then selection decisions, and invest in the very best. Also, show the results year after year so people can try next year if they wish.

Daniel (DE): Emphasized incorporating students into various processes.. 

***

Q: Does anyone have work on impact studies re: patenting and IP rights internationally? Best return on investment?

NRC perspective: the success is dependent on finding a strong tech receptor for the project. An industry partner where the company can grow – this is the best way to quantify the success of the partnership. The absence of a strong receptor generally weakens the collab . emphasize collabs when tech will benefit in the short/med term. 

Mike (UK): every challenge has a benefits realization plan and an evaluation plan with interim reports.Understand the market, intermediate, and a retro piece. So what we have been trying to do is look for the early signals. Early, look at market trends. Analysis after can show you whether you were right or wrong. Trying to build in project completion activity to see if we are seeing the early signs. 

***

Lots of interesting discussion on initiatives. One of the things that struck me was how similar Norway seems to Canada, as described by Catherine Meland. The main points of comparison she made were based on the smaller, northern location while also being a fisheries and oil powerhouse. She went into a few specific collaborations and agreements between our countries, and pointed out that we seem to have an active treaty dating back to 1826? 

The one initiative that stuck in my head came from Yuko Tsuda, who works between the US and Japan. It was kind of dropped without too much discussion, except to be an example of how the different layers of government/industry collaboration in Japan, but the subject is WILD. Allow me to introduce to you, the Moonshot program.

Again, the science and technology aspects were not discussed really… but chew on that for a bit!

So, if you got this far, thanks for sticking around! Keep up to date as these recaps come out by following me on Twitter @AdamFortais . Read/listen to more at scientificanada.ca . If you like what you heard or read, consider subscribing on Youtube, your favorite streaming service, or showing your support at patreon.com/scican . Thanks again, talk soon!


Live Notes

Melanie Cullins Moderator. 

Catherine Meland: Main focus is climate change and environment, specifically oceans. From her description, Norway sounds a lot like Canada. Fisheries, oil, smaller population. (Re-)New focus on tech, AI. #sustainableOceanEconomy = 14 world leaders committed to 100% sustainable ocean management (by 2025, as of 2020). Biden recently joined, updating this number to 15. LOOK INTO UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Both Norway and Canada are active in this… Norway has an active treaty from 1826, as well as more recent ones. We collaborate on fishery things. 

Mike Biddle: Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Innovate UK. Working from industry to address our problems. “”Mission-driven” approach, interdisciplinary societal and industrial challenges. Learning from the Darpa model, each challenge is led by a Challenge Director INSTALLING SOMEONE DIRECTLY FROM INDUSTRY AT THE TOP. Delivering the science that business needs to transform existing industries and create new ones… Big topics: Net Zero+ (plus??) Health and wellbeing, transformative tech… mapped to the ISCF. 

“Taken top level mission and target and asked what we can do with industry to make it happen” re: decarbonisation. Such, launched Industrial Decarbon Challenge: public investment of 210m Pounds, matched by 261m Pounds from private investment, funded until 2024. “How do we embed knowledge exchange and sharing into the system?” Of the first 200m pounds, participants expect additional net revenue of 900m per year(?)

YukoTsuda: Essential keywords… the HAMAGUCHI Plan. Moonshot R+D dev program…

Also, “Plan B” is a research direction to make working away from work, work. Plan A is vaccines. 

“Innovation Centres” in Japan, mainly universities, to commingle ideas. One of the key requirements for sustainability is international partnership. 

Dan Holder: Implements Germany’s international strategies. “I am the only one from a university on this panel so my perspective might be different”. 

Eddy Zupple: 

Q: How are you attracting and bringing in new players to your “living labs” and various activities and programs? How are you ensuring these players are successful at engaging with each other.

Mike: Boil innovation into inspire, involve, invest… Show them then involve them… (but, like what?) Funding competitions plus big advertising. Then selection choices, and invest in the very best. Also, show the results so people can try next year if they wish.

Daniel: It’s important the path to sustainability is a ___ process. Top down support with the president (president of what?). Engages with students, let students challenge too. 

Q: Yuko, tell me about international collab with the Moonshots program

A: Collab is important, yes. It is “easy to pronounce” but hard to achieve. Based on trust! 

To Ms. Cathrine Meland: Norway has a very large sovereign wealth fund, and also a fund dedicated to climate change companies. Could you tell us about it?

A: She did. There were a lot of details. 

To Ms. Yuko Tsuda: JST is known for the very high quality of research it funds. How do you decide on themes you will fund? And what are the main criteria to select a project?

Different mechanisms, depending on the programs. Moonshot example – launched by cabinet office, not JST. But cabinet doesn’t have the specific knowledge. They make visionary board with different stakeholders, long term discussions to build initiatives. Zuppel: In terms of international collabs, (see graphics), but much of NSERC is focused on Canada… getting industry/academia collabs through their granting processes. We can’t afford to be redundant, so we take part in conferences etc etc, and leverage funding opportunities when there are mutual benefits between countries. 

Q: how to engage collabers

A: british guy = communication. Cdn = comprehensive and inclusive calls

Does anyone have work on impact studies re: patenting and IP rights internationally? Best return on investment?

NRC perspective: the success is dependent on finding a strong tech receptor for the project. An industry partner where the company can grow – this is the best way to quantify the success of the partnership. The absence of a strong receptor generally weakens the collab . emphasize collabs when tech will benefit in the short/med term. 

Brit: every challenge has a benefits realization plan and an evaluation plan with interim reports. Understand the market, intermediate, and a retro piece. So what we have been trying to do is look for the early signals. Early, look at market trends. Analysis after can show you whether you were right or wrong. Trying to build in project completion activity to see if we are seeing the early signs. 

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