Neutrons Canada organized a packed-out fishbowl session on the funding framework for Major Research Facilities (MRF’s) at the 2023 Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa.
This session, titled “The Impact of Major Research Facilities as National Assets: Responding to the Report of the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System,” brought together over 100 policy experts, research facility leaders, science administrators, researchers and other stakeholders to build consensus around the Advisory Panel’s proposed a new paradigm. The Advisory Panel proposed that the government fund MRFs as a portfolio, and adopt a lifecycle approach from planning to decommissioning.
Panelists highlighted the role of MRFs in tackling emerging research challenges and opportunities. Participants and the panelists discussed how a new framework will address issues such as MRF sustainability, optimizing benefits to Canada, and what more needs to be done.
There was broad agreement that implementation of the Advisory Panel’s recommendations is urgent and should not wait until a perfect solution is found. Even without new funds, a commitment to the framework in Budget 2024 would be welcomed by all the facilities, because it would be a major improvement to the way that Canada makes decisions about funding MRFs. Once the framework is in place, it will be easier to have an ongoing conversation about the appropriate level of funding.
The panelists and participating research facility leaders formed a consensus on the essential components of the funding framework and provided a report to government Ministers and civil servants responsible for funding policy for Major Research Facilities and the associated Major Science Initiatives.