Premier Christy Clark today announced funding toward an $80-million upgrade to the undergraduate teaching laboratories at the University of British Columbia that will allow more growth and opportunity in life sciences that support a range of vibrant sectors that contribute to a diverse economy.
Premier Clark made the announcement as she officially opened the first-ever #BCTECH Summit.
British Columbia is a leading centre for world-class research in a wide range of specialties, including life sciences. In a post-secondary setting such as UBC, life science activities include research into fundamental human health, diagnosing and treating disease, combatting infection, as well as plants and crops, micro-organisms, biotechnology and animal health.
“Our government invests tens of millions of dollars in innovation at public post-secondary institutions to build on the growth and diversification of our economy and advance technology,” said Premier Clark. “Research at UBC offers students hands-on study opportunities that lead to exciting fields of discovery, expand our technology sector, and contribute to UBC’s leading position amongst world universities.”
The Province is contributing up to $19.95 million toward the redevelopment of the UBC Biological Sciences north and centre wings of the complex. When complete, the new and refurbished space will provide modern teaching labs for undergraduate life sciences programs. The project is expected to create 320 direct and 265 indirect jobs.
“The life sciences are rapidly advancing and exciting fields of study that support a range of sectors in our diversified economy,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Upon completion of their life science program, UBC students go on to work in a myriad of occupations ranging from the basic sciences to biotechnology to the health professions.”
The life sciences sector contributes $14.4 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) in B.C. and employs around 180,000 individuals. Life sciences are also an important component of the #BCTECH Strategy. Practical applications for life sciences include health, agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals and food science that are critical to a diverse, strong and growing economy.
“Whatever their focus, from micro-organisms to human beings, the life sciences are an area of research producing life-changing discoveries and new technologies that make our lives better,” said UBC interim president Martha Piper. “The renewed teaching laboratories at the Biological Sciences Complex will ensure that UBC can continue to provide the best facilities for our students and maintain its reputation as a leader in the life sciences.”
The south and west wings of the Biological Sciences Complex were renewed in 2011 as part of phase two of UBC Renew, the highly successful multi-stage plan by the university to renovate and refurbish, rather than demolish and rebuild, aging buildings on its Vancouver campus. Renewal of the north and centre wings will complete the refurbishment of the complex.
UBC was ranked 34th in the world in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) standings, and consistently ranks among the top life science research universities in Canada according to THE.
The Province has invested $912.2 million in the university since 2001 to leverage diverse projects that support student learning and internationally recognized research. The $912.2 million includes $86.4 million toward the new $133.3 million faculty of pharmaceutical sciences and Centre for Drug Research and Development building completed in 2014.
Government has invested more than $2.6 billion in capital and infrastructure projects at public post-secondary institutions in B.C. since 2001, with more than 1,600 capital projects throughout the province. The provincial government will invest $822 million in planned capital expenses over the next three years (2015-16 to 2017-18).
The technology sector supports the B.C. economy at its foundation and is a key driver of growth for the economy, creating 86,000 jobs that pay 60% higher wages than the average.