Competition and Collaboration in Global Academic Science

This research program investigates multiple dimensions of competition and collaboration in academic science, from the perspective of researchers, science policy makers, policy entrepreneurs, and university leaders. Specific studies examine topics such as policy processes leading to the establishment of cooperative research programs, the impact of global collaboration on academic careers in the Global South, the mobilization of the ideas of competition and collaboration in science policy debates , and the stratification of scientific productivity and recognition.

Participating Researchers: Summer Cowley, Colleen Stevenson, Ahmet Su

Completed Projects

Defining Success: Analyzing student participation and outcomes in university and college entrepreneurship programming

The overarching goal of this Impact Grant project is to identify the outcomes that students participating in entrepreneurship programming in Ontario colleges and universities value, and the program attributes and/or experiences that help them achieve those outcomes. The project will focus on experiential programs supported by the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the research team will seek to work collaboratively with program leaders in those programs.

Participating Researchers: Donna Heslin, Cheryl Mitchell, Chris Holt

Public Policy and the Attraction of International Postsecondary Students

This project assesses the current environment of international student recruitment including an assessment of competing jurisdictions inside and outside Canada. Through an  inter-jurisdiction review and a literature review, this research will increase our understanding of (a) the policy tools employed in key jurisdictions to attract international students; (b) the competitiveness of Ontario in relation to such jurisdictions; and (c) what policy levers could Ontario consider moving forward to enhance its position globally as a premier destination for foreign talent.

Participating Researchers: Emma Sabzalieva

The Entrepreneurship Movement and the University

There is great hope in policy circles about promoting entrepreneurship through education, science, and economic institutions. Universities are expected to impart entrepreneurial skills to students, to support the formation of start-up companies, and to work productively with entrepreneurs to commercialize technologies. Moreover, advocates of entrepreneurship in the public and private sectors support initiatives to create an entrepreneurial mindset among college students. This project examines trends in public policy, the patterns of entrepreneurial activity in the marketplace, and university initiatives to cultivate entrepreneurs.

Participating Researchers: Andrew Kretz

The Science-Policy Interface in Brazil

Brazil is continually faced with trade-offs between economic development and environmental sustainability. More so than ever before, Brazil is also under pressure from vying international groups over the use of its internal resources, as debates continue to swirl over the long-term implications of deforestation in the Amazon and the viability of sugarcane-based ethanol as a clean energy source. Focusing on environmental policy in the sectors of bio-fuels and forestry, the main objectives of the study are: 1) to examine the knowledge brokering capacity of scientific institutions, governmental agencies, and other intermediaries in the policy community, and how such capacity relates to policy making, 2) to determine the extent that scientific knowledge is contributing to environmental policy development in the sectors of bio-fuels and forestry, and 3) the conditions under which knowledge brokering succeeds. The bio-fuel and forestry sectors are strategically situated at a nexus of local, national and international debates regarding technological development practices and human-induced environmental changes in emerging economies.

Participating Researchers: Julieta Grieco

Expertise and Policy Learning in Research Policy

The use of evidence and expert knowledge in public policy is a well-identified area of study. In research policy, a strong agenda is apparent in several countries promoting clearer connections between academic research and evidence-based decision-making in several fields. Little is known however about the research funding agencies themselves – who are key agents in the dissemination of ideas and how they employ experts and use evidence to assess, design, and implement their own programs. This study addresses this gap in an international-comparative way, by examining the use of evidence and expertise in major funding agencies in Canada, the US, and Europe. The goal of the study is to understand how evidence and expertise contributes to research funding policy design and assessment.

Participating Researchers: Merli Tamtik, Andrew Kretz

The Institutionalization of Technology Transfer in Canada

Universities are widely recognized as crucial assets for regional economic growth, and are increasingly expected to engage in knowledge transfer and related activities.  Situated within the context of national and provincial policies that encourage the commercialization of academic science, this project investigates the origins of technology transfer activities and the  processes through which such activities and expectations became normalized and institutionalized at the University of Toronto.

Participating Researchers: Andrew Kretz, Kristjan Sigurdson

Linking research to its uses: Making sense of how decisions are informed by research

Linking societal impacts to research outputs is important for researchers, research funders and research organizations, in order to capture and attribute those less obvious, intangible uses of research. Understanding the process of research use and how it emerges as impact are poorly understood when the use of research is not directly linked to a specific researcher or research project. In order to identify and capture the use of research in policy and practice, where there are no direct links to the researcher, it is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the process from the perspective of the users. The proposed research will explore the questions: In what ways are policy and pratice decisions informed by research? How can research be linked to its use? The partner organization, CASRAI will use the results of this research to improve its evolving catalogue of data elements for measuring the societal impact of research. The study proposed for this internship will provide evidence for the continued development of CASRAI’s research impact data standards

Participating Researchers: Amy Lemay

Research Utilization in Provincial Governments

Complex policy challenges and public demands for evidence-based decision making from governments have made understanding how, why and to what extent empirical research is used to guide policymaking an important area of study. This project investigates the multifaceted nature of research use among provincial ministries of education, higher education, and science, technology and innovation across Canada – the areas of government that are central to supporting the “knowledge economy”. The study seeks to probe the capacity of provincial governments to generate, access, and use research to inform policy decisions.

Participating Researchers: Dan Hamlin, Ayman Rizk, Cynthia Field

The State of Entrepreneurship Education in Ontario Postsecondary Education

In Canada and elsewhere there is much policy interest in supporting and facilitating entrepreneurship including through post-secondary education. Interest in entrepreneurship education at Ontario’s universities and colleges has increased in recent years, however, the scale, type, and impacts of existing opportunities in this area are largely unknown. This project will consider how postsecondary institutions have defined “entrepreneurship” in their programming and will then profile entrepreneurship education programs in Ontario, and document the various types and components of each. Another important component of the project is to investigate assessment efforts at different stages of the entrepreneurship programs at colleges and universities, to determine the means by which success is being measured.

Participating Researchers: Andrew Kretz, Kristjan Sigurdson


Creso Sá is a Distinguished Professor of Science Policy, Higher Education, and Innovation at the University of Toronto. He is also Chair of the Department of Leadership, Higher & Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

Sign-up for Updates

Create a website or blog at