Canada to require risk assessments for researchers to protect intellectual property

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Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to media at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

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OTTAWA, July 12 (Reuters) - Canada on Monday said it would require detailed evaluations of university research partnerships in order to protect intellectual property rights and keep sensitive information out of the hands of foreign governments.

The new research guidelines, detailed in a government statement, come as foreign spying and interference in Canada hit Cold War levels last year, in part because of vulnerabilities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"By requiring that risk assessments be submitted with research funding requests, these new mandatory guidelines will help protect Canadian research, knowledge and intellectual property," Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in the statement.

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"We will not take chances with Canada's national and economic security. Projects that are deemed high risk, or where the risk cannot be mitigated, will not be funded," he added.

Conservative opposition leader Erin O'Toole has attacked Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government in recent weeks for not sharing more details of a case in which two Chinese researchers were removed from Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory in 2019.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating.

Canadian universities depend on government financing, and university research is almost exclusively supported by federal funds, according to Statistics Canada.

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Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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