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Very rubin observatory, Credit: Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

Independent review lauds Perimeter as “world-leading” success

Perimeter Institute is “making significant impacts on both science and society,” says the latest independent report from KPMG to Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

A comprehensive independent review has given top marks to Perimeter Institute for the effectiveness and value-for-money of its research, training, and educational outreach.

“PI has achieved great success against its mandate and mission, is viewed very positively by all respondents groups, and is making significant impacts on both science and society,” concludes the report.

“Results in many areas have improved compared to the 2011 evaluation results. Perimeter has successfully positioned Canada as a world leader in theoretical physics research, and its influence on Canada’s reputation in foundational theoretical physics is significantly higher than just five years ago.”

The report was conducted by KPMG as part of Perimeter’s ongoing reporting and transparency for Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED).  

KPMG evaluated performance data, conducted discussions with eight eminent physicists on Perimeter’s Scientific Advisory Committee (an arm’s-length oversight body that reports to the Board), and examined feedback from many others including researchers, trainees, partner institutions, outreach audiences, and donors (including individuals, foundations, and companies). 

“We are delighted with these findings of Perimeter’s strong progress since 2011,” said Perimeter Director Neil Turok.
“Our goal of creating the world’s leading centre for foundational theoretical physics is now clearly in sight. More broadly, Perimeter is committed to playing its role in making Canada a global knowledge and innovation leader. We aim to meet and exceed the high expectations placed upon us by our supporters, by delivering research breakthroughs which advance science and benefit humankind. This report provides further confirmation that Perimeter Institute is on the right path.”


This evaluation covers the period April 1, 2012 to July 31, 2016, using eight distinct levels of inquiry to analyze the effectiveness and efficiency of the Institute’s research, training, and outreach operations. The report also contrasts the findings, where possible, with the 2011 KPMG study

Selected excerpts:

On PI’s contribution to Canadian physics capability, the report concludes Perimeter has made research capacity “better to much better in all fields that PI addresses,” with even greater impact than reported in 2011. It finds that partnering universities and research centres consider Perimeter’s Affiliate and Associate Faculty programs are “effective to a great extent,” particularly regarding recruitment of research leaders, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students. 

On production and dissemination of world-class research, the report says Perimeter “produces many research papers of very high quality, published in top ranking scientific journals.” Members of Perimeter’s Scientific Advisory Committee rated Perimeter research of “scientific importance at or near ‘world-leading.’”

Asimina Arvanitaki, Masha Baryakhtar and Robert Lasenby collaborating on a blackboard in the Atrium
Researchers collaborate at one of Perimeter's many blackboards.

On PI’s contribution to exchange of research knowledge, the Institute was viewed by all respondents to be “very actively and successfully engaged in the exchange of scientific knowledge,” and also to be facilitating interactions with other international scientists “to a great extent.”

On attraction and retention, Perimeter was found to have a “significant effect on recruitment to Canada” of top-quality researchers, and “can compete for research ‘stars’ and ‘giants’ with the best institutes in the world.” The report noted the beneficial “knock-on effects for other Canadian universities” of Perimeter’s recruitment strengths.

On outreach, the report found “the general public is very positive” about the impact of Perimeter outreach on their interest in physics and science, and that high school teachers who engage youth across Canada find Perimeter’s in-class educational materials “reliable, trustworthy, well-planned, and engaging” in addressing topics “more cutting-edge than can easily be developed independently.” 

Three teachers conducting an experiment at Perimeter's EinsteinPlus workshop.
Teachers participate in Perimeter's EinsteinPlus workshop.

On Perimeter’s research environment, the report states researchers “seek out association and opportunities with Perimeter” because it is home to top Canadian and international talent. Ninety-four percent of researchers interviewed said Perimeter “fosters and supports cutting-edge research from a great extent to a very great extent,” and three-quarters say it does so “better or much better than other top-rank international institutions.” 

On Canada’s position as a world-leader, the report says Perimeter has a “dramatic impact on Canada’s reputation” and is a world-leading institution “standing on equal footing with other institutes of equal fame (and generally much longer history)” with respondents rating Canada as roughly “good” in theoretical physics before Perimeter was created and “world class” now, noting that Perimeter had an “absolutely massive effect.” The study says “Perimeter is now ‘the default’ when international researchers think about Canadian foundational theoretical physics.”

Canada's Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan speaking at Perimeter Institute.
Canada's Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan speaks at Perimeter Institute.

On economy and efficiency of the research, training and outreach activities, the study reports that Perimeter donors recognize the Institute’s “strong leadership, clear vision, and well-managed programs, all contributing to the efficiency with which it conducts its operations,” and cites the Scientific Advisory Committee’s 2015 independent report on “high efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of the Perimeter Institute for its size and investment dollars.”  

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

For more information, contact:
Mike Brown
Manager, Communications & Media
519-569-7600 x5131