New digital technologies are creating massive quantities of data at an explosive rate, which is having a profound impact on the capacity of Canadian researchers to generate and contribute research that will be critical to Canada’s future. To embrace this new world of possibility, Canada must build and sustain a strong and vibrant Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) ecosystem.
In support of the Canadian post-secondary research landscape, and to ensure it remains competitive and truly world-class, Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada (ISED) has earmarked $572.5M over five years toward a national DRI strategy. The Government of Canada’s goal is to provide all Canadian scientists and scholars with the digital tools they need to conduct the world-leading research that supports innovation in Canada.
As part of the national DRI strategy, ISED has set aside up to $375M of its five-year funding to establish a new national not-for-profit organization. The Digital Research Alliance of Canada (formerly the New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization [NDRIO]) will coordinate and fund activities in advanced research computing (ARC), research data management (RDM) and research software (RS) components of the DRI strategy, working collaboratively with all stakeholders across the country.
The 2019 – 20 fiscal year was the first year of operations for 11593765 Canada Association (known publicly as the Digital Research Alliance of Canada). It was an exciting year for the start-up organization, with the accomplishment of many milestones in Year One, including the incorporation as a member-based, not-for-profit organization; the approval of a Contribution Agreement with the Government of Canada through ISED; and the establishment of an inclusive, diverse Applicant Board and interim management team.
The first meeting of the Applicant Board took place on August 19, 2019. In accordance with the Alliance’s principles, 50% of the Applicant Board members were women. The Applicant Board was also geographically diverse (with members in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick) and represented the research, IT and university communities, as well as the corporate perspective. Both official languages were represented.
Members of the Applicant Board included:
Lori MacMullen (Chair)
Under the strong leadership of the Applicant Board, the organization put into place an interim management team that worked tirelessly on coast-to-coast consultation sessions with the research community; developed and shared the Alliance’s Governance and Membership model (that includes its Guiding Principles); established organizational By-Laws; solidified business operations; and successfully recruited and elected an independent Inaugural Board of Directors announced at the Special Members’ Meeting in March 2020.