Conversations on science policy
For the past 10 years the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) has been organizing a national conference made up of leaders, influencers and science enthusiasts. The three day, late fall gathering has been a concentrated effort focused on stimulating a necessary dialogue regarding the importance of science, technology and innovation policy in Canada.
“We started the CSPC ten years ago to help connect various stakeholders of science and innovation to discuss the pressing issues of policy,” said Mehrdad Hariri, Founder, CEO and President of the Canadian Science Policy Centre. “Innovation and science are major drivers of our economy, supporting critical industries that touch the lives of Canadians every day, and we need a national inclusive forum for policy discussions.”
This year Bayer, whose global purpose is “Science for a Better Life,” sponsored the 10th annual Canadian Science Policy Conference which took place in Ottawa from November 7 – 9. With 800 attendees, including delegates from around the world, Bayer’s President and CEO, Alok Kanti took the event as an opportunity to tout the important role that Canada’s life science industry plays locally and internationally.
When it comes to life sciences, Canada has been at the forefront of some amazing inventions.
“When it comes to life sciences, Canada has been at the forefront of some amazing inventions,” said Kanti. “From the discovery of insulin to the development of Canola, we have a lot to be proud of, but there is still so much ahead of us.”
And indeed Kanti is right. Over the next 20 years the world’s population is expected to grow by almost a third and with it, the population is also expected to become a lot older. By 2050, seniors (65+) are expected to account for almost 20 per cent of the world’s population.
“With a rapidly growing population that is also becoming much older, it means we have to find creative ways of growing more food while at the same time looking to new ways of keeping people healthy and out of hospital,” added Kanti.
And therein rests a major present day challenge, not just for Canada but the entire world.
Scientists in the UK have estimated that a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to erosion or pollution, putting strain on the agricultural sector. In addition to this, many countries have also started to clamp down on healthcare spending, primarily as it relates to pharmaceuticals, which is limiting research and development activities towards new medicines and treatments.
Science plays an important role, both in helping address present day issues as well as those that are further in the future.
“Science plays an important role, both in helping address present day issues as well as those that are further in the future,” added Hariri. “It’s for this reason that we created the CSPC; to help elevate non-partisan discussions around important policy issues so we can further drive attention to areas of opportunity.”
In Canada, and indeed around the world, governments are currently exploring what they can do to help elevate their economies. More so than ever, a focus on elevating the life sciences sector is growing. However, much like business where most of the benefits go to those that are nimble and quick to adapt, it is paramount for Canada’s legislators to move quickly on the development of a robust, national life sciences strategy.
“With the level of knowledge and expertise we have, Canada has a real opportunity here,” concluded Kanti. “However, in order to compete with other markets where scale is considerable and investments are abundant, we may lose our grip on the opportunity at hand if we are slow to act.”