The Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program is Canada's flagship research funding initiative and a policy innovation that has been emulated by a number of other countries. The NCE program is historically significant in the political economy of Canadian research: established in 1988 by the Mulroney government, it was the first program to attach expectations of industry partnerships and commercial exploitation to funding for academic research. The program rests on dual goals of research excellence and commercial relevance and promotes a national research capacity that 'floats across' existing academic institutions and provincial jurisdictions.
Janet Atkinson-Grosjean'sPublic Science, Private Interestsis the first book-length study of NCEs, and offers an assessment of the long-term impact of the erasure between public institutions and private enterprise. Atkinson-Grosjean reveals not only the cultural and commercial shifts sought by policymakers, but also unintended consequences such as regional clustering, élitism and exclusion, problems with social and fiscal accountability, tensions with host institutions, and goal displacement between science and commerce. This is a work of great importance to Canadian policy studies and particularly to science and medical research policy.