Mandate letter for Mr. Iain Stewart (September 6, 2018)


Mr. lain Stewart
National Research Council Canada
1200 Montreal Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R6

Dear Mr. Stewart:

We would like to congratulate you on the renewal of your appointment as President of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) for a term of five years. As you know, as President you are both Deputy Head of the organization and a member of the NRC Council, which is responsible for overseeing the NRC planning process, providing financial oversight, and approving financial results. In addition, we encourage you to continue to be an active member of the Deputy Minister Committee on Science and Technology and the Canada Research Coordinating Committee.

In August 2016, you were appointed to a two-year term to review how the NRC could contribute to Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan and to identify opportunities for the NRC to improve its support for innovation in Canada, its engagement with other science and innovation stakeholders, and its governance and management.

Consistent with Canada's vision for science and the Innovation and Skills Plan, Budget 2018 approved and funded $1.24 billion over five years for NRC activities, including:

  • $150 million over five years, with $30 million per year ongoing, to fund NRC scientists to work with innovators from post-secondary institutions and businesses on multi-party research and development programs modelled on the highly successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the United States;
  • $30 million over five years, with $6 million per year ongoing, to establish an ideation fund to target breakthrough research ideas through a competitive peer-reviewed process; and
  • $62 million over five years, with $12.4 million per year ongoing, to lower access fees charged to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and universities and colleges.

For your second term, we ask that you update us on progress to date and develop a plan within the next three months on the next steps required to implement these new initiatives and complete the NRC Dialogue, which proposes a range of internal changes and new initiatives developed in consultation with NRC staff.

In the spirit of reimagining the NRC, we also ask that you develop a plan and report back to us within the next six months on how you propose to:

  • deepen research excellence and focus the NRC on its unique strengths and capacities while positioning it as a collaboration partner with business, academia, and government within Canada and abroad;
  • continue to enable innovative, high potential SMEs to grow to scale and establish global brands, including by ensuring that they can access the NRC's world-class research and innovation resources;
  • work as a collaborative partner with scientists and innovators (federal partners, colleges and universities, Canadian multinational enterprises and SMEs);
  • build collaborative multi-stakeholder teams to address grand challenges in areas such as sustainable environment, the aging population and health, the north, digital technologies, and the Internet of things;
  • support government digital innovation initiatives, including the national consultation on digital and data transformation, to better understand how Canada can drive innovation and prepare Canadians for the future of work;
  • establish an NRC Chief Scientist; and
  • work with other departments and participate in the renewal of federal laboratories through the Federal Science and Technology Infrastructure Initiative.

Aligned with the government's commitments to inclusiveness and diversity, we ask that you report back to us within the next six months on your proposals to:

  • consider measures to ensure that there are no unintended barriers to the participation of women researchers and entrepreneurs in the NRC's programs and partnerships and increase outreach to diverse groups of Canadians to help create a more inclusive Canadian innovation system; and
  • develop the next generation of NRC research leaders and encourage a more diverse NRC through targeted actions to include more women, youth, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities among its researchers.

Taken together, we believe that a reimagined NRC with ambitious goals, such as ranking in the top 10 international government research organizations, will further advance leading-edge ideas and disruptive technologies, have greater impact supporting business innovation and growth, and deliver on government public policy priorities.

As with your inaugural mandate, please make this mandate letter public and continue to take a consultative approach in the process of addressing our directions.

We congratulate you on your success to date and look forward to further work with you as President of the NRC.


The Honourable Navdeep Bains, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Science and Sport