Federal government commits $492 million in grants for virus, AI research

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The federal government is providing up to $492 million through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to fund Canadian researchers studying viruses and artificial intelligence (AI), among other fields of research.

The investment will go to 2,400 researchers, including those studying computer science and AI.

The investment is being deployed through NSERC’s discovery grants program, and will go to 2,400 researchers pursuing studies in natural sciences and engineering disciplines, including biology, mathematics and statistics, computer science and artificial intelligence, chemistry, and chemical engineering.

In addition to researchers, the federal government’s investment will also support 500 early-career researchers who will bring new perspectives and insights into their fields.

“Researchers across the country make incredible discoveries every day, from rapid advances to understanding COVID-19 over the last few months to years-long studies on climate change and cancer treatments,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his daily press briefing Wednesday. “It’s in everyone’s interest that they continue doing their vital work.”

The discovery grants program supports ongoing research while also allowing researchers to pursue high-risk, high reward topics and ideas. In addition to supporting research, the discovery grants invest in research training and other opportunities for students, researchers, and fellows.

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Trudeau announced the NSERC funding along with COVID-19-related news, including that the federal government would provide an economic and fiscal “snapshot” on July 8. The NSERC investment is not necessarily COVID-specific and appears to be inclusive of research outside of immediate needs related to the pandemic.

This most recent investment is part of a $4 billion increase for research committed in the 2018 federal budget, which included an increase of more than $1.7 billion over five years to support Canadian researchers through granting agencies and research institutes.

On May 15, Trudeau launched a temporary program through the federal granting agencies aimed to help sustain the academic research enterprise through the crisis caused by COVID-19.
“At NSERC, we take great pride in the discovery grants program as our funding flagship,” said Alejandro Adem, president of NSERC. “It provides a firm research foundation for the research programs undertaken by thousands of exceptional science and engineering investigators, professors, students, postdoctoral fellows and support staff across Canada.”

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Christina – wocintechchat.com.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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