Why cspc is crucial

About the CSPC

The CSPC: a Successful Grassroots Effort
The Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) was founded in 2008 by a dynamic group of young students and academic staff from colleges , science-based government departments, and the public founded companies. The organizing team is composed of a diverse range of early-career professionals: graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, administrators, policy-makers, policiancs, advisors  and entrepreneurs. Many have developed a deep interest in science policy and have gone on to pursue a career in the field.

Since 2008, the CSPC has received a groundswell of engagement from across Canada’s science policy landscape, including the support of over 70 volunteers who have helped organize the conference, over 40 organizations who have provided financial support, and over 70 community leaders who have served on the CSPC’s Advisory and Honorary Committees.

The CSPC as a Focal Point for Science Policy
The CSPC has developed an extensive network of contacts, having had direct contact with over 100 organizations within Canada’s science policy community. It has earned a respected position as a neutral, arms-length, nongovernmental organization devoted to sound science policy, and now has a proven track record as a facilitator of discussion among diverse Canadian science policy stakeholders from academia, government, industry, and the non-profit sector.

Remaining true to its grassroots culture, the CSPC is non-partisan and prescribes no specific policy recommendations of its own. Rather, it seeks to broadly diffuse the successes of science policy champions from across the country, and serve as a coordinator for the discussions of critical issues in science, technology and innovation policy in Canada. The long-term vision of the conference is to foster a strong science policy culture in Canada, shaped by a co-evolution of science and policy goals shared between community members.

The CSPC Culture: Collaborative, Innovative
How is it that a national conference initiated by grassroot efforts has become so successful not only to capture the attention of the community, but even to mobilize them? What truly enables CSPC is not only that it fills a niche by bridging the communication gap, but also its characteristic features. CSPC has had various collaborations with many organizations and is always welcoming new collaborative efforts. CSPC is, of course, ambitious and has set the goals for establishing the first Canadian science policy centre and a virtual institute of science policy research.

Last but not least, CSPC is always looking to adopt new models of communication and interconnection among various stakeholders in science technology and innovation policy. We always look forward to your ideas and suggestions.

CSPC impacts
The efforts put forth through the conference and the initiatives following the conference are beginning to yield impact in the following areas:

Building a Community
CSPC has established an annual forum that draws people of diverse disciplines from across the nation and beyond. This inclusive discussion focuses on the emerging issues of national priority in science, technology and innovation and has been able to attract hundreds of delegates from across disciplines to gather in one venue, network, exchange ideas, and plan for future collaboration. CSPC hosts a national dialogue among various sectors, where participants from all stages of their political or professional careers can exchange with young entrepreneurs and new scientists. These open and frank discussions help shape the emerging issues in science, technology and innovation policy.

Content Generation
The CSPC has produced a variety of print and audio-visual materials based on conference panels. Our surveys of conference delegates indicate that more than 80% of participants agreed that sessions and learning programs were of high quality. This material is available for free online at http://sciencepolicy.ca. Through these efforts, the seeds planted at the conferences can continue to drive discussion and debate throughout the year. These audio-visual materials include:

  • 26 panel discussions and 3 workshops under 10 overarching themes, in which more than 110 leading speakers from the academic, industry, government, and non-profit communities are featured
  • 9 keynote addresses from provincial and federal Ministers, distinguished scientists, and policy and industry leaders
  • more than 50 interviews with leaders of science policy

In addition, the published proceedings of the each CSPC, include a two-page report of the key issues discussed in all the panel discussions. These are an invaluable source of high quality content on the most pressing issues in science policy.

Raising the Profile of Science Policy
The annual CSPC meeting has brought attention to science policy in Canada. The conferences have enjoyed favorable coverage from many media outlets, both national and international. In its editorial, Nature magazine hailed the CSPC as a “hopeful sign” for Canadian science policy.

Many other media including The Globe and Mail, CBC, The Mark, TVO, Hill Times, Agence Science Press, Biotechnology Focus, Canadian Government Executives, and many others have covered CSPC. This is a motivating indication that science policy is recognized as important to Canadians and deserves to have a national forum, and needs serious attention by the public.

If Canada is building an economy based on knowledge and innovation, then it needs a dedicated forum and entity for science policy, and the public needs to be informed about it.

CSPC: a Training and Enabling Entity for the Younger Generation
During the past three years, CSPC has enjoyed the volunteer service of more than 70 young individuals who have helped organize the conference in various sub committees. Graduate students, post doctoral fellows, young policy makers, administrators, entrepreneurs and industrialists have been the primary source of these volunteer work forces. CSPC has become an enabling vehicle for many young scientists to become knowledgeable about science policy. Many have found deep interest in the field, and through the CSPC network found their career path. Young policy makers and administrators have enjoyed the excitement and opportunity to work with scientists directly and to better understand the culture of the scientific community. These two communities in practice have found deep common ground and established strong links.

CSPC has also been the source of inspiration for entrepreneurial activities, from which there has already been one direct spin-off. CSPC is becoming a training and enabling institute for many young professionals with an interest in science policy.

Community Empowerment
One important outcome from discussions initiated at CSPC 2009 is SciencePages, a publication directed at parliamentarians and other decision-makers. It aims to increase discussion on topical issues that have science and engineering at their core by summarizing the current state of the knowledge and policy landscape. Each issue is prepared and reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team and is published quarterly.

SciencePages is an initiative of the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE), in partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). More information can You can find the latest version of the website on http://www.cspc2013.ca