The ex-chairman of the nation’s Science Council forms a startup to spark government scientists

OTTAWA—Stuart L Smith was fed up with his government’s inability to help Canadian scientists turn their knowledge into commercial products. So he formed his own company to do something about it.

A psychiatrist turned liberal politician, Smith served from 1982 to 1987 as chairman of the Science Council of Canada. The council, Canada’s equivalent to the National Academy of Sciences, provides the government with a stream of reports on science and technology policy issues. In his capacity, Smith saw what he calls “an abominable waste of research talent.”

His favorite example is the case of two government scientists who discovered a method of extracting oil from sewage sludge. Not only would their process permit the oil to be used, but it would also make the sludge safe enough to be buried as landfill. Yet nobody in...

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