Let curiosity reign to drive discovery, says keynote speaker at our annual public meeting

December 6, 2016

OTTAWA, ONTARIO –  “One of the most heart-breaking questions to ask me as a researcher is: ‘So what’s the application of your work?’” said TED Fellow and presenter Andrew Pelling with a chuckle at the annual public meeting of the Canada Foundation for Innovation yesterday morning. The University of Ottawa professor and Canada Research Chair in Experimental Cell Mechanics joined approximately 120 guests at the Chateau Laurier to talk about the importance of curiosity-driven research. Pelling said that an application-based approach to science can stifle new ideas and innovative approaches to research. His lab takes a unique method, finding academic and commercial success in trying to answer seemingly impossible questions and tackling projects for curiosity’s sake alone.

Watch: How the Pelling Lab grew a human ear from an apple

Listen: Andrew Pelling discusses the impact of CFI support on his research

In addition to Pelling’s presentation, CFI officials presented the CFI’s latest annual report titled Innovation is in our nature and reviewed our activities over the past fiscal year.

Kevin Smith, Chair of the CFI Board, highlighted some key events from the 2015-16 fiscal year. Several new funding competitions and announcements, the largest Canada-wide consultation in CFI history and managing the selection process of the inaugural Governor General Innovation Awards meant the past year was both busy and productive, Smith noted.

To date, the CFI has invested more than $6 billion in more than 9,400 research projects at 147 universities, colleges and research hospitals across Canada. But the ultimate measure of the CFI’s success is in the difference it makes in the lives of Canadians, said our President and CEO, Gilles Patry to attendees. “That research builds communities is a simple truth we see reflected in our work every day,” he said. “This is brought into focus through stories and images of Canadians whose community has benefited in some way from research.”

Some of those stories have formed our 20th anniversary campaign called “Research builds my community” and can be found by subscribing to our newsletter, visiting Innovation.ca, or following us on Twitter and our campaign hashtag #CFI20yrs.