Private foundations could save Canadian science.

Having spent time at a large museum in the US, I am familiar with the common occurrence of privately endowed “[generous person or foundation] lab of [awesome research]” initiatives. The culture of funding basic research is not as well developed in Canada as it is in the US, so these are much less commonly found up here, at least in terms of support for specific researchers working on basic science. Given the extreme challenges facing scientists in this nation, especially those who are working on basic research (vs. technology, health, environment, etc.), this could be an area where private funding could really help. Obviously, this would be contingent on foundations with an interest in basic science, but it’s something that seems to me increasingly needed as grants shrink, frustration builds, and brains drain. Funding agencies tend to shy away from high-risk (what we would call interesting and novel) projects, and are focusing more and more on projects that have commercial potential or some other applied use. It is very rare to be able to explore without being strongly constrained in some way.