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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
(H. L. Mencken)
This evaluation of Natural Science and Engineering Research Council's (NSERC) Industry-driven Collaborative Research and Development sub-program was conducted by R.A. Malatest and Associates in collaboration with NSERC. Circum's president, Benoît Gauthier, was principal evaluator. The evaluation was based on a variety of sources of information: a secondary data review; an administrative data review; key informant interviews; case studies; a literature review; and a cost-efficiency analysis.
The sub-program represents NSERC's largest suite of initiatives supporting industry-academic partnerships. This evaluation, conducted in fiscal year 2015/16, covered three of the Industry-driven Collaborative Research and Development grants with total expenditures of $643 million from 2009 to 2014. These three funding opportunities are: Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grants, Industrial Research Chairs (IRC) grants, and Engage grants.
The evaluation concluded that the sub-program was designed to meet the needs of both industrial partners and academic researchers and that the sub-program was well aligned with the priorities of the federal government and NSERC.
The university-industry partnerships were generally successful at fostering meaningful collaborations that last beyond the funding period. The industry-driven funding opportunities have substantially contributed to enhancing the research capacity of the university researchers involved. Industrial partners reported that the grants had significant impacts on competitiveness and productivity. The transfer of knowledge to industrial partners was another benefit that companies obtained. The industry-driven funding opportunities involved substantial numbers of students and fellows in applied industrial research and their involvement was multifaceted,
Recommendation #1: maintain the Industry-Driven funding opportunities.
Recommendation #2: continue efforts to develop common metrics for the measurement of impacts on industry and consider homogenizing vocabulary among grants.
Recommendation #3: consider revising the Engage logic model to improve alignment with the objectives of the grants.
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