More research cash for U of A as feds and province beef up labs

For the second time this week, the U of A is on the receiving end of federal and provincial cash for infrastructure upgrades. This time it’s $82 million to improve existing labs on campus.

The money will fund ten projects with the incubator space used to help get ideas and innovations to market, giving a hand up to start-up ventures that want to see brain-childs make it to the market place.

“We want these companies not only to succeed in Canada but we want them to become global success stories,” said Science, Innovation and Economic Development minister Navdeep Bains. “We want them to be export oriented. We want them to have their head offices here, their R & D here, be part of global supply chains. So the idea again is to create an ecosystem of companies in not only Alberta and Edmonton but become global champions as well, which is good for good quality jobs for Canadians here.”

U of A president David Turpin said it’s an important investment in these tough economic times. “The future is about innovation,” he said. “How do we do things, how to improve on things. How do we chart new courses into the future. When times are tough economically it’s the time to invest in education and research and the announcements this week underscore the fact that the federal government and the provincial government get that.”

The infrastructure investment will spruce up lab facilities that were once state of the art, but no longer. “The technologies have shifted so dramatically over the last number of decades. So what we need are facilities for our students and our researchers to work in, that are up to date and are allowing them to push the frontiers of knowledge.”

Projects include improving the electrical power grid, and even space exploration.

“We heard an example this morning of a student that is along with his colleagues built Alberta’s first satellite that will go into orbit this December. Having the modern facilities that allow you to do that type of research, that sort of development are absolutely critical for this province and this country as we compete in this very competitive global knowledge economy.”

The breakdown on the money has $56 million coming from Ottawa, coupled with $26 million from the province.

Projects approved for Strategic Investment Funding:

1- Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility enhancement
2- Chemistry Lab modernization and renewal
3- Chemical Materials Engineering Building redevelopment
4- Biological Sciences and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences expansion and enhancement
5- Innovation and Incubator Space development
6- Research Network Infrastructure upgrade
7- Augustana Science Lab renewal
8- Campus Saint-Jean Lab renewal
9- Clinical Sciences – Mechanical System renewal
10- Medical Sciences Building infrastructure upgrade

On Tuesday the U of A received $75 million for the Future Energy Systems Research Institute which will try to develop new low-carbon energy systems, and work to reduce the footprint of fossil fuels.

(sj)