KMb Advice for Americans / Conseil sur la MdC pour les américains

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York)

Thanks to @KTExchange for giving David Phipps (RIR-York) the chance to speak to Americans about the Canadian KT (=KMb) secret. American citizens, community agencies and lawmakers can learn from their Canadian counterparts.

Merci à @KTExchange d’avoir donné la chance à David Phipps (RIR-York) de parler aux Américains à propos du secret canadien en matière de TC (=MdC). Les citoyens américains, les agences communautaires ainsi que les législateurs peuvent en apprendre de leurs vis-à-vis canadiens.

“Develop an engaged community sector and elect a government that will listen.”

Those were my parting words to the audience at the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media in Atlanta as we gathered to debate if the (hypothetical) Canadian KT secret is exportable to the US. I developed some preliminary thinking about this in a recent blog where I proposed the US needs a social Bayh Dole Act to mandate KT on American campuses.

A social Bayh Dole Act would focus on public good as an outcome. It would not encourage the false promise of private gain from the commercialization of university research inherent in Bayh Dole mediated technology transfer. A social Bayh Dole Act will require a paradigm shift of engagement in civic and academic America. We heard from the audience that US Foundations and charities are fragmented, do not speak with a unified voice and do not collaborate on funding research projects. We also heard that in a commercialized and competitive health care system there is not a culture of sharing and collaboration, both necessary antecedents of successful KT.

The health charities in Canada were critical in the transition from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It is because of Canadian health charities that CIHR has the 13 Institutes it has.  It is because of the health charities that CIHR has a legislated KT mandate. Because of the health charities, run by citizens engaged in their health causes, the Canadian government (via CIHR) now invests over $800M per year creating new knowledge and translating that knowledge new health services, policies and products.

The US can benefit from a social Bayh Dole Act. To get there it will need the advocacy of an engaged and coordinated community sector that demands a public return on public investments in research.  It will also need a government that listens to Americans and acts as the Canadian government did in 2000 when it passed the CIHR Act.

All the US needs to do is develop an engaged community sector and elect a government that will listen.


Stephen Linder (The University of Texas School of Public Health) and David Phipps (RIR-York) giving KMb Advice to Americans

Public Benefits from Public Research

David Phipps (RIR – York) wrote this guest post for KTExchange.org.  It was originally published on August 3, 2011 and is cross posted here with permission.

I have been invited by the University of Texas School of Public Health, Research Into Action project, to the Centers for Disease Control National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media to debate the position that Canada has a knowledge translation secret. I look forward to this discussion with Stephen Linder (The University of Texas School of Public Health), Pimjai Sudsawad (Knowledge Translation Program Coordinator, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research), and Rick Austin (Research Into Action project), because I get to brag about Canada and our KT successes.

We’ll start from the (debatable) position that Canada has a KT secret. There is an evidence gap here. There are also excellent examples of KT from around the world. Nonetheless, there is a widely held perception that our KT secret has resulted from (or resulted in) public investments in national KT institutions like the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Canadian Partnerships Against Cancer, Mental Health Commission of Canada, and Canadian Council on Learning, all with a KT mandate. Canada also has ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR), the only national network of university knowledge mobilization units in the world (to our knowledge).

For argument’s sake, let’s accept that Canada has a KT secret – the question becomes why? Canada has a strong history of public institutions. Compared to the US, Canada has less private health care and fewer private options for education from K-12 to higher education. Using General Expenditures in R&D (GERD) as a metric, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has shown that Canada’s public sector invests relatively more in R&D than does Canada’s private sector. On June 28, 2011 Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council released its report on Canada’s innovation performance in 2010.  The report recognizes that “Canada’s overall business expenditures on R&D lag behind international innovation leaders. These numbers are trending down when they should be trending up.”

Since Canadians invest proportionally more public funding in R&D and likewise have fewer private options in health care and education, I propose that Canadians expect a return on their investments in public research so that research benefits policy and practice in health and education as well as in other sectors. That’s the Canadian socially democratic model.

If this is true, so what? How can we translate this to other jurisdictions? How can other countries create an expectation of public return for public investments in research? Continue reading