Our Mission of S&T Excellence

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Our science and technology (S&T) mission is to build a sustainable Canadian resource advantage through S&T excellence. We measure our S&T “excellence” in terms of relevance, impact and world-class quality. Natural Resources Canada’s knowledge and expertise are world-class and are based on a proud history of success. Our S&T leadership is a cornerstone of Canada’s strength as a natural resources powerhouse.

This S&T Strategy provides a unifying and integrative framework for carrying out this mission. It is a framework for mobilizing, renewing and connecting the department’s S&T endowments – our people, our ideas, our S&T management systems and our infrastructure assets. It will enable the department to provide the best scientific knowledge at the right time for informed decision making.

This S&T Strategy speaks to NRCan’s own people – to our highly skilled scientists, technologists and research staff; to our policy and program officials and administrative staff; and to our executive leadership. It provides us with a guide and touchstone for how NRCan’s S&T will address existing and emerging natural resource-related societal challenges based on the highest standards of scientific excellence. It highlights how S&T will be integrated with the department’s policy and program decision making and will support the Government of Canada’s S&T objectives of fostering Canadian advantages in entrepreneurship, knowledge and people.

NRCan is a results-oriented science organization with national presence, regional impact and global reach

  • about 3000 staff supporting S&T activities and delivering results for Canadians
  • 18 major laboratories located across the country
  • approximately $500 million in S&T spending annually
  • 900 peer-reviewed publications annually
  • working with, and drawing strength from, our portfolio partners, our counterparts in provincial and territorial governments, and our other stakeholders
  • more than 1000 collaborations annually that generate $300 million in additional S&T activity relevant to NRCan’s priorities

NRCan’s S&T Strategy also speaks to all Canadians, other levels of government in Canada and diverse stakeholder groups at home and abroad. It shares with them our S&T priorities and directions.

It points to opportunities for working with us to build sustainable economic, environmental and social advantages for Canadians.

For more than 150 years, NRCan and its predecessor departments have built and exemplified best practices in performing and applying S&T in the public interest and for the public good. This S&T Strategy looks to the future but is connected to the past through a continuing and steadfast commitment to S&T excellence.


Before this S&T Strategy was developed, the Office of the Chief Scientist conducted a thorough examination of the challenges and opportunities for NRCan’s S&T in a fast-changing world. The report of this work, Positioning Natural Resources Canada’s Science and Technology in the Innovation System, documents the informed views and perspectives of NRCan’s research community, outside experts and more than 60 stakeholder groups. Over the past two years, dedicated members of NRCan task teams, drawn from across the department and led by the Chief Scientist, have considered best practices found across the department and other leading science-based public organizations in Canada and abroad. This S&T Strategy draws on the results of all of this work.

NRCan’s S&T Strategy is presented in five sections:

  • a summary of the major areas of challenge and opportunity for NRCan S&T leadership
  • NRCan’s five strategic S&T objectives that succinctly capture and communicate what we want to achieve, then follow
  • priority areas for S&T focus and key directions under each
  • our expected outcomes
  • critical success factors for implementing the strategy

The Government of Canada’s S&T Strategy: Objectives and principles

The Government of Canada will foster three distinct Canadian S&T advantages: an Entrepreneurial Advantage, a Knowledge Advantage and a People Advantage. The Government’s S&T objectives and its policy commitments will be guided by four core principles.

Promoting world-class excellence. The Government of Canada will ensure that its policies and programs inspire and assist Canadians to perform at world-class levels of scientific and technological excellence. The government will foster an environment of healthy competition to ensure that funding supports the best ideas.

Focusing on priorities. The Government of Canada will continue to play an important role in supporting basic research across a broad spectrum of science. To enhance its success, it will also be more focused and strategic – targeting more basic and applied research in areas of strength and opportunity.

Encouraging partnerships. The Government of Canada will support S&T collaborations involving the business, academic and public sectors, at home and abroad. Partnerships are essential to lever Canadian efforts into world-class successes and to accelerate the pace of discovery and commercialization in Canada. Through partnerships, the unique capabilities, interests and resources of various and varied stakeholders can be brought together to deliver better outcomes.

Enhancing accountability. The Government of Canada will implement stronger governance and reporting practices to deliver and demonstrate results. Accountability is important because it puts the responsibility on those who are supported by public funds to demonstrate to taxpayers that results are being achieved.

Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage (Government of Canada: 2007)

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