TVB Associates was pleased to support Neutrons Canada in organizing and reporting on a consensus-building event at Canadian Science Policy Conference. This event gathered leaders of Major Research Facilities across Canada, as well as policy experts, science administrators, and researchers.
Attendees deliberated the recommendations of Report of the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System regrading a new funding framework for Major Research Facilities.
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.
TVB Associates is pleased to have supported Neutrons Canada in negotiating its first international partnership agreement, which will promote cooperation between Canada and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source in the United Kingdom.
Alumni Analyzer (a business line of TVB Associates) is pleased to share this statement from a happy client:
“SNOLAB is the world’s leading deep underground clean lab hosting a dozen scientific experiments by large Canadian and international research teams. During more than 20 years of operation, numerous students and post-doctorates have passed through our facility either as users or employees. Inspiring and training these alumni for careers is one of our principal impacts on society.
“As a facility that relies on public funds, having objective data on SNOLAB’s impacts is critical. Yet tracking our alumni through their careers has been a challenge. Alumni Analyzer (a business line of TVB Associates) found our alumni, connected with them, and documented their educational achievements and professional career paths – both statistically and anecdotally.
“Alumni Analyzer produced a comprehensive report detailing SNOLAB’s success in inspiring and training staff and students, and demonstrating the valuable role SNOLAB alumni play in Canada’s tech and innovation ecosystem.
“Alumni Analyzer delivered exactly what SNOLAB needed: objective, aggregate data showing SNOLAB alumni tend to pursue higher educational achievements, have high rates of retention within Ontario and Canada, enjoy strong career progression, and are more likely than other Canadian science graduates to work in high-tech and research-intensive sectors of the Canadian economy.”
As project manager of the on-going process to develop the Canadian Neutron Long-Range Plan for 2025 to 2035, TVB Associates was pleased to support the organization of a consensus building session at the CINS Science Conference in March 2023, in cooperation with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
The session, entitled “Building Expertise for Canadian Neutron Scattering”, gathered input on topics such as EDI, indigenous issues, student and post-doc issues, outreach to industry, and attraction of experts for roles such as instrument scientists.
The outcomes of the session will feed into the development of the Neutrons Long-Range Plan.
TVB Associates is continuing in the role of project manager of the Neutrons Long-Range Plan, now directly supporting Neutrons Canada to act in its new role as the institutional steward of the Neutrons Long-Range Plan.
Canadian leadership in inspiring fundamental research just got a boost.
SNOLAB is Canada’s deep underground research laboratory, famous as the location for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment, which led to the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Canadian Arthur McDonald. Following completion of the SNO experiment, this two kilometre deep lab was expanded to host multiple experiments and relaunched as SNOLAB in 2012. It has since continued expanding and is now an international-scale laboratory hosting more than a dozen experiments conducted by large international scientific teams.
The increased operating funds awarded through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Major Science Initiatives (MSI) program are essential to SNOLAB’s expansion and its ability to host the world’s most advanced experiments in astroparticle physics that provide insight into the nature and evolution of the universe. Hosting and participating in these experiments boosts Canada’s scientific reputation, attracts scientific talent and partnerships, and inspires a spirit of discovery, innovation, and collaboration.
SNOLAB has been awarded $102M over six years, up from $76M over 5 years in 2017-2022 (source: CFI awards list). The CFI funds at most 60% of a Major Research Facilities’ operating costs, and the balance must be found from other sources, typically cash funding from provincial governments and in-kind contributions of partners.
What’s more is that this increase came through a heavily oversubscribed competition. The budget for this MSI competition, after adjusting for inflation and some policy changes from the last competition for the 2017 to 2022 term, was essentially flat. Yet the 16 facilities funded previously were competing with 18 other facilities that were trying to get into this MSI fund, were deemed eligible, and were invited to apply by the CFI.
TVB Associates was pleased to support SNOLAB in its proposal to the CFI MSI Fund by writing and editing core sections of the proposal.
Led by the University of Windsor, 18 universities across Canada have submitted a national proposal to the CFI 2023 Innovation Fund for a $55M project for neutron beam infrastructure is an essential contribution to the national neutron strategy. Neutron beams, which complement x-rays, are versatile and irreplaceable probes of materials and are required by a community of 125 Principal Investigators across Canada.
The proposal, entitled “Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering, Phase 2”, is for infrastructure to provide neutron beams for research on materials for (1) clean energy technology, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through innovative battery packs for cars and for wind and solar energy, and through advanced nuclear energy; (2) health and food sustainability, to understand and treat disease or develop new plant-based foods that can replace more resource-intensive animal-based ones; and (3) quantum technology, to lay foundations for breakthroughs in faster information technology devices. It will also enable a radiation therapy that uses neutrons to trigger drugs to emit cell-killing alpha particles inside brain cancers.
Part 2 builds on the McMaster-led national CFI 2020 IF award “Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering” (Part 1). Part 1, a $47M project, is adding neutron beamlines at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor and creating two 6-year partnerships with foreign neutron sources. Part 2 will create further 6-year partnerships so Canadians can access essential and world-leading neutron capabilities. It will also build a prototype neutron source with the potential to make neutron beams much more accessible in Canada in the long term.
TVB Associates was pleased to have a central role in the proposal to the CFI and in parallel proposals to the provinces for matching funds, including developing the strategy, building the national team, project managing its many components, writing applications to proceed through the internal processes of each partner university, negotiating with the foreign partners, and writing the CFI Innovation Fund proposal drawing on the contributions of the many team members and partners.
CMC Microsystems, Canada’s leading hardware technology facilitator, and manager of Canada’s National Design Network® (CNDN), has shared results from its recent study on CNDN alumni, and the training of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) in Canada.
“CNDN researchers graduate as ‘walking technology transfer,’ bringing a holistic skillset into the marketplace,” writes CMC Microsystems.
TVB Associates used LinkedIn data to deliver key portions of their study, identifying findings such as:
Accelerated career progression: Alumni are about twice as likely to be in executive or management positions within 10 years, and about 25% more likely after 20 years.
Greater employee retention and engagement: CNDN alumni remain with their employers longer than peers who did not use CNDN, and this effect is seen for up to 20 years.
Retention in Canada: Over 70% of CNDN alumni continue to work in Canada for over 20 years in a hypercompetitive, globally integrated marketplace.
CNDN graduates have collaborated with and worked for over 1,000 Canadian firms from start-ups and scaleups to industry giants in sectors where Canadian innovation is most needed, such has automotive, aerospace, energy and the environment, healthcare, and defence and security.
TVB Associates was pleased to support the Canadian Neutron Initiative (CNI) working group by writing its national neutron strategy. This strategy has emerged from consultative processes over the past several years as reported earlier. The final strategy was released in March 2022.
This strategy is a basis for the national CFI 2023 Innovation Fund proposal led by the University of Windsor for neutron beam infrastructure, while early versions of the strategy supported the national CFI 2020 Innovation Fund award to McMaster University. Presently, 15 universities are founding Neutrons Canada as the central feature of strategic objective 4.
This strategy also serves as a basis for CINS to develop the Neutron Long-Range Plan (LRP). The Neutron LRP will be a realistic plan for the infrastructure investments needed to implement the national neutron strategy over the next decade and beyond.
Summary of the Strategy
Canada’s social, environmental and economic challenges require a complete twenty-first century scientific toolkit for research and innovation in materials. Because everything is made of materials, innovation in materials underpins nearly all technology advances for national priorities, including:
The strategy identifies four key objectives that are essential to put into place the required infrastructure and governance framework to enable Canadians to use neutron beams:
Forge partnerships with high-brightness neutron sources in other countries;
Build on existing domestic capabilities, including full exploitation of the McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR), a medium-brightness neutron source;
Explore and invest in developing new neutron sources for the long term; and
Create a new, national governance and management framework for these activities.
The full strategy is available below.
The national neutron strategy (prepared by TVB Associates)
In January, 15 Canadian universities met as the Founding Members of a new organization, “Neutrons Canada.” The creation of Neutrons Canada is part of a cohesive, multidisciplinary, national strategy to rebuild Canada’s capabilities for research using neutron beams following the closure of Canada’s primary neutron source, the NRU Reactor in Chalk River, in 2018.
Neutrons Canada will govern, manage, and represent Canada’s infrastructure program for research and development with neutron beams. At the scale required to meet the Canadian demand for neutron beams, an such infrastructure program is estimated to cost $20M per year. On behalf of its Member institutions, Neutrons Canada will play an essential role in facilitating community activities to secure capital and operating funds for the infrastructure program. It will deliver or support major neutron projects and related initiatives as appropriate.
Neutrons Canada will represent the program as a credible institutional voice to government, as Canada’s agent for contracts with foreign neutron sources, and as a consensus builder among the communities that rely on neutron beams. Coordinating such efforts nationally will be the most effective means to deliver a truly pan-Canadian program that enables the community to speak with one voice.
Applying best practices for the governance and management of Major Research Facilities in Canada, Neutrons Canada is expected to be launched before the end of 2022 as a not-for-profit corporation with an independent Board of Directors elected by Member institutions that conduct research with neutron beams.