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Summary of the evaluation of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

March 2017

About the evaluation

  • The evaluation assessed the relevance and performance of ISED's contribution to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).
  • The evaluation covered the period from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2016 and built upon the results of CIFAR's third-party evaluation completed in December 2015.

What the evaluation found

Program description

  • CIFAR is an independent not-for-profit corporation that supports networks of distinguished Canadian and international researchers.
  • Its mission is to increase Canadian research capacity in areas of importance to Canada, and strengthen the Canadian research environment through the promotion of excellence and engagement with the international research community at universities and research institutes worldwide.
  • CIFAR currently supports research programs in 14 areas, drawing upon approximately 400 eminent researchers from around the world.
  • There is a need for publicly-funded fundamental research as a means to foster innovation and provide social, environmental and economic benefits to Canadians. CIFAR responds to this need by using global, interdisciplinary and collaborative research networks to deliver large-scale research programs designed to achieve knowledge breakthroughs.
  • CIFAR's objectives align with federal government priorities to invest in fundamental research and innovation.
  • CIFAR has developed and broadened the research capabilities of Canadian and international researchers by providing them with the opportunities to explore novel research approaches and collaborate with the best researchers in the world.
  • The institute has been successful in facilitating interdisciplinary research and national and international collaboration. This approach has contributed to significant research achievements.
  • CIFAR has promoted and disseminated a significant amount of knowledge products. The program's outreach activities have increased in recent years and are highly regarded.
  • The institute is producing high-calibre research which has led to economic and social benefits for Canadians.
  • CIFAR's virtual research model suggests efficiencies compared to more traditional models used by other advanced research organizations. The program has also been successful in leveraging external funding. Further conclusions could not be reached on CIFAR's efficiency due to data limitations.

Recommendation (as agreed upon by management)

  1. In order to draw more meaningful conclusions about the economy and efficiency of CIFAR's operations, SIS should work with CIFAR to update its Performance Measurement Strategy to include additional efficiency indicators. Consideration could be given to identifying efficiency-related comparables (i.e. benchmarking) and targets to further assess CIFAR's operations.

Complete version of the evaluation report

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