Public Science, Private Interests: Culture and Commerce in Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence


269 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8005-7
DDC 507.2'071




Reviewed by Alex Curran

Alex Curran is a former member of both the National Advisory Board on
Science and Technology and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council. He was chair of the Telecommunications Sectoral Advisory
Committee on Free Trade and the first recipien


Since 1946 most research in Canada has been performed in
government-funded universities and specialized laboratories. Researchers
published their peer-evaluated work in recognized journals, and patents
were regarded as irrelevant because these journals were in the public
domain. Researchers were responsible for allocating research grants to
their fellow researchers.

In 1988, responding to the needs of the emerging knowledge-based
economy, the Canadian government announced funding for a new research
project known as the Networks of Centres of Excellence. Its mandate was
to encourage the formation of research centres that would be managed by
boards composed of representatives from both the research and commercial
interests, and to perform research that was (i) of high quality on the
peer-reviewed scale and (ii) of relevance to participating commercial
interests. The call for proposals elicited 158 proposals, of which 11
were funded. This book is an appraisal of one of those research centres,
the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network (CGDN). Although the experiment
has improved relations between research and commercial interests,
limitations having to do with funding do not allow for a true measure of
its success.

Public Science, Private Interests is recommended for universities
across Canada, policy- makers, and researchers involved in the economics
of knowledge-based industry.


Atkinson-Grosjean, Janet., “Public Science, Private Interests: Culture and Commerce in Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 13, 2024,