3. Priority areas and key directions

Creating a Sustainable Canadian Resource Advantage through Science and Technology

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Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan’s) S&T Strategy identifies five priority areas, each supported by a clear and strong set of science and technology (S&T) directions and supporting actions for achieving results for Canadians. As with the nature of scientific progress itself, the individual actions will be open to review, continually tested and subject to revision as evidence emerges from our S&T, policy and program activities of what works and what does not.

S&T knowledge base

Ensuring excellent scientific, technological and economic research and development and related scientific activities

Key directions
Performing S&T at world-class levels of excellence
  • conduct and support leading-edge S&T that meets world-class standards of excellence as measured by peer review and other means
  • ensure appropriate multidisciplinary links across the natural and social sciences and engineering
Integrating our S&T knowledge base to meet 21st-century opportunities and challenges
  • create an NRCan enterprise knowledge management system
  • examine the requirements for an NRCan-wide advanced foresight capacity to guide our investments, based on existing departmental practices
Connecting our S&T knowledge base nationally and internationally
  • identify and collaborate with other national and global centres of natural resource knowledge
  • address gaps in Canada’s natural resource S&T capacity
  • extend and enhance the recognition of NRCan’s connections and contributions to national and international S&T-based priorities
Applying and sharing our S&T knowledge base for greater positive impact
  • through new media, enhance dissemination of and access to natural resource S&T within the scientific community and by decision-makers
  • benchmark NRCan as a trusted centre of knowledge within the broader innovation system (e.g., through laboratory assessments, bibliometrics and other leading-edge means)
  • develop mechanisms to ensure the delivery of accurate and timely knowledge and advice, to enable informed decision making
  • accelerate the application and commercialization of NRCan knowledge and innovations

S&T partnerships and collaboration

Developing effective collaborative S&T arrangements

Key directions
Creating enabling conditions for open innovation
  • streamline and strengthen partnership agreements, funding mechanisms and departmental support for multiyear collaborative S&T arrangements
  • intensify collaborative S&T relationships within NRCan and with external partners to address horizontal S&T issues
  • increase networking with external partners to leverage resources and expertise
Building Canadian S&T scale and focus through national and international partnerships
  • foster regional innovation clusters, such as building on the transfer of the CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory to McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ontario
  • capture opportunities to create world-class institutes with external collaborators
  • collaborate with our major trading partners on issues of mutual interest

World-class S&T capacity

Supporting human resources, real property and other scientific assets

Key directions
Investing in our people
  • maintain a stimulating research environment that can attract, retain and support the best and the brightest in the S&T community
  • accelerate implementation of S&T human resources renewal initiatives, such as On-Campus and Mid-Career Recruitment strategies, within a framework for the recruitment and retention of S&T professionals
  • support skills development to meet new opportunities and challenges with programs such as Leaders on the Move and Leading Scientific Teams
  • support effective knowledge transfer through succession management, mentoring, coaching, collaborative technologies, Emeritus Scientists, etc.
Renewing our S&T infrastructure
  • renew our S&T infrastructure and engage in opportunities to increase funding to maintain and repair scientific facilities and related real property
Managing our S&T assets as a national resource
  • ensure compliance with government-wide asset management systems and processes
  • strategically invest in scientific equipment to conduct state-of-the-art S&T
  • share our S&T assets with other government departments, universities, colleges, industry and other stakeholders

S&T governance and accountability

Meeting high standards of S&T governance and accountability through integrated and aligned decision making

Key directions
Organizing for integrated corporate decision making
  • share, enhance and develop tools to enable integrated, transparent, evidence-based decision making
  • enhance NRCan’s structures and approaches in support of the integration of science, policy and programs and a focused, balanced and cost-effective S&T portfolio


NRCan is this country’s centre of expertise for non-military applications of explosives.
Explosives are part of NRCan’s safety and security mandate. The department regulates and authorizes all explosive products in Canada – fireworks as well as the industrial explosives necessary to extract ore, build roads, drill wells, fuel rockets, etc. The Explosives Regulations ensure Canada has an efficient explosives industry that operates within certain rules of safety.
The Regulations recognize there must be control of explosives and of access to them, along with appropriate measures to strengthen the security of Canadians and of infrastructure that might be exposed to explosives.

The Regulations are underpinned by NRCan research that includes testing explosives at the CANMET Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory. The laboratory is the only one in Canada dealing with commercial explosives and one of a handful in the world. It aims to reduce the risk to Canadians from explosions, whether accidental or deliberate.

The security side of the department’s mandate has taken on added importance in the post-9/11 world. There has been an increased focus on improvised explosives and on developing new regulations for some chemicals that have legitimate uses but can also be used to make explosives for criminal purposes.

Working to ensure the safety and security of Canadians has also meant forming new and/or stronger partnerships – working cooperatively with Defence Research and Development Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and friendly foreign governments, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

The department also evaluates the blast resistance of strategic installations and key buildings, such as Canadian embassies.

Increasing our agility and responsiveness through collective leadership

  • establish departmental S&T priorities at a corporate level through an integrated, transparent and evidence-based process
  • strengthen collective decision making related to S&T delivery mechanisms
  • apply a corporate lens, process and department-wide standards to S&T resource allocation
  • enhance S&T performance assessment processes to support corporate decision making

Enhancing NRCan leadership on national and international S&T priorities

  • play a leadership role in developing and implementing federal S&T policies and programs
  • support delivery of horizontal S&T priorities as an active member of the federal S&T community
  • prioritize NRCan presence in key international fora

Public and stakeholder engagement

Reaching out to and seeking the knowledge and perspectives of employees, stakeholders and other Canadians

Key directions
Fostering the knowledge, interest and participation of Canadians in S&T and natural resource issues
  • develop an NRCan S&T outreach and communications strategy to guide our public engagement, including with youth, on S&T and natural resource issues
Proactively seeking and considering external advice
  • rejuvenate NRCan’s formal S&T advisory structure to increase stakeholder engagement in our S&T priority setting
  • seek advice from and improve engagement with the Science, Technology and Innovation Council and the Council of Canadian Academies
Deploying new approaches and technologies for engaging NRCan employees, stakeholders and decision-makers
  • expand the use of new media and tools (e.g., NRCan Wiki, podcasts, video vignettes, “wired” meeting places) to communicate with (not merely to) employees, stakeholders and decision-makers

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