ARCHIVED - Mandate letter for Mr. Iain Stewart (October 18, 2016)


Mr. lain Stewart
National Research Council Canada
1200 Montreal Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R6

Dear Mr. Stewart:

We would like to offer congratulations on your appointment as President of the National Research Council Canada (NRC). As President, you are both Deputy Head of the organization and a member of the NRC Council, which is responsible for overseeing the NRC planning process, providing financial oversight and approving financial results. In addition, we encourage you to be an active member of the Deputy Minister Committee on Science on behalf of NRC.

In June 2016, we announced our intention of making Canada a global centre of innovation through a new Innovation Agenda. To achieve our vision, we are currently consulting Canadians on six areas for action:

  • an entrepreneurial and creative society;
  • global science excellence;
  • world-leading clusters and partnerships;
  • growing companies and accelerating clean growth;
  • competing in a digital world; and
  • improving the ease of doing business.

NRC has been a central pillar of federal science and a support for innovation for 100 years. It has continually made beneficial contributions to the needs and challenges of Canadians decade after decade. More recently, NRC has been in a process of transformation, making important changes to improve its support for industrial research and technology.

In support of the continued renewal of NRC and to advance the six areas of action for our new Innovation Agenda, your mandate is to assess the current state of NRC in the four areas indicated below; provide us with an initial stock-taking report in November 2016; and bring forward a proposed Memorandum to Cabinet for our consideration in summer 2017.

The preliminary report and Memorandum to Cabinet should examine NRC in relation to:

  1. Innovation Support: including better meeting the current and longer-term research and development needs of Canadian industry; ensuring science excellence in the research work of NRC; and identifying opportunities to increase support for the technology, growth-to-scale and export needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.
  2. Engagement: including ensuring effective processes to identify current and forthcoming industrial R&D priorities and collaboration opportunities with firms; and working with Cabinet and federal stakeholders to set long-term NRC intramural research priorities and ongoing outreach to engage external innovation and science community stakeholders to ensure that NRC is a key partner in Canada's principal innovation clusters across the country.
  3. Governance: ensuring best practices in governance, decision-making processes and resource management, safeguarding public and staff safety at all times; ensuring effective environmental stewardship processes and practices; fostering a culture of openness and consultation within NRC and with federal stakeholders; and reviewing clarity in NRC executive accountabilities. In this regard, consideration should be given to whether and how organizational design challenges would enhance NRC engagement, partnerships and governance.
  4. Management: ensuring leading-edge management practices by examining the NRC budget, revenue targets and financial controls; assessing and strengthening NRC IT systems where appropriate; and renewing and unleashing the full potential of the NRC workforce to become a global leader in science and innovation.

We are excited about the contribution NRC has made and will make to the Canadian innovation system and to our Innovation Agenda.

In support of an open and transparent approach to this mandate, we ask that you make this mandate letter public and engage NRC science and innovation personnel in your process of examination and development of advice. Regarding the regional activity of NRC, we ask that you consult with innovation stakeholders in key clusters across the country.

Lastly, we ask that you establish regular meetings with the two of us and our Deputy Minister beginning in August 2016 to outline your proposed approach, and then report on progress and issues as you advance your mandate.

We look forward to working with you as NRC President in this regard.


The Honourable Navdeep Bains, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Science