ARCHIVED - President's Insight
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May 06, 2006— Ottawa, Ontario
From the Lab to the Marketplace
As with all organizations, the National Research Council (NRC) continually looks at both the economic and social impact of its programs – or in other terms, how the organization is creating value for Canada.
One of the markers of this value, and an issue that has been much publicized and discussed over the past several years, is Canada's ability to transfer innovative technologies and processes from publicly funded labs to the marketplace – or to commercialize the results of its research. Since its inception in 1916, the National Research Council has strived to do just that – ensure that the research that is carried out in its labs is moved to the marketplace and has a social or economic impact for Canada.
NRC has a well developed and very successful approach to commercializing its technologies, and does so via a number of different avenues from licensing and creating spin-off companies, to collaborative research and incubating new firms.
The commercialization of technology is not a single, isolated activity - it is the "Development" in "Research and Development" (R&D). A technology that is ready for the marketplace stems from a strong investment in research. Without effective research programs focused on Canada's key economic sectors, there would very simply be no technology to commercialize.
One of the challenges in managing valuable market-oriented research programs is anticipating future market needs. NRC takes a portfolio approach to its research, investing in short, medium, and long-term research activities. While short term research activities are much closer to the demands of today's marketplace, long term research is crucial in anticipating and developing the technologies that the market will require in ten to fifteen years.
In all of these endeavors, one of the key elements of NRC's success has been its commitment to leadership and excellence in research. Over the years, NRC scientific and engineering leaders have solved emerging technological and societal issues that have impacted all Canadians.
From 1924 to 1938, some of the best medical researchers in the country worked with NRC to find a vaccine against tuberculosis (TB). In the early 1930s, NRC researchers did important work on converting waste natural gas from western Canada into new and useful products such as antifreeze, synthetic rubber and benzene, a chemical used to make such things as insecticides, detergent, and motor fuels. In 1951, Canadian scientists first used cobalt-60 supplied by NRC to treat cancer. Today, Canada produces about 85 per cent of the world's supply of cobalt-60. NRC designed the Olympic torch first used in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. More recently, NRC scientists developed 3-D imaging technology, which has been used for a host of applications — from police forensics and applications for cancer treatment, to special effects in movies like the Lord of the Rings.
This excellence in research has been recognized throughout NRC's history.
Many scientists who have passed through the doors of NRC have been bestowed the honour of Nobel laureate, among them Dr. Gerhard Herzberg, who in 1971, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in identifying molecules in space. His discovery has found application in almost every aspect of modern science, from medicine to electronics.
Dr. John Polanyi, a 1986 Nobel Laureate developed a new field of research in chemistry called research dynamics.
In 2000, NRC scientist Dr. Harold Jennings was a recipient of the prestigious Manning Award. He developed the vaccine against Group C meningococcal infection. Sales of the vaccine have earned him status as Canada's highest royalty-generating government scientist ever.
Last year, NRC's Dr. Jillian Buriak received the 2005 Rutherford Memorial Medal for Chemistry. She and her team have developed highly efficient methods of interfacing nanoparticles directly with semiconductors for electronics, sensing and other important applications.
Also in 2005, Dr. David Lockwood won the Henry Marshall Tory Medal for his outstanding body of work on quantum confinement effects in semiconductor nanostructures.
|Dr. Pierre Coulombe, NRC President.|
In 2006, NRC scientist Dr. Paul Corkum won Canada's Killam Prize for natural sciences, a prize often likened to a Nobel Prize for Canadians. The award recognizes him as the father of a revolutionary step in understanding the smallest bits of matter in our universe.
This is only a sampling of recognition bestowed on NRC's employees - an outstanding team dedicated to excellence in their fields. You could say that the research carried out across Canada in NRC's institutes and programs is where the commercialization process begins – with relevant, problem driven research focused on the needs of Canadians.
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