The B.C. government is investing nearly $25 million to support 34 post-secondary research projects that will drive innovation and economic growth.
The projects will also help create jobs, protect biodiversity and the environment, and help keep British Columbians healthy and safe.
The funding is awarded through the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) and gives students and researchers access to the latest technology, tools and equipment they need to drive research projects forward.
During the past four fiscal years, the BCKDF has awarded more than $154 million to 255 projects.
“We are focused on building a sustainable, inclusive and innovative economy. By investing in research and innovation with our world-class talent and universities leading the way, we will be one step closer to achieving this goal,” said Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “B.C.’s post-secondary schools are making significant advancements through leading-edge research that improves the lives of people and contributes directly to our economic prosperity throughout B.C. The Province is proud to support these incredible initiatives and the people behind them.”
The five recipients are Simon Fraser University (SFU), Thompson Rivers University (TRU), the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vancouver campus, the UBC - Okanagan campus and the University of Victoria (UVic). Projects include:
- the advancement of “precision oncology” to help identify therapy most likely to benefit a cancer patient;
- establishing an artificial intelligence engineering laboratory to advance research for clinical applications for dementia and vision sciences;
- determining how natural systems will respond to climate change and improve responses to environmental contamination;
- finding sustainable solutions to protect infrastructure, such as buildings and bridges, against seismic damage; and
- supporting communities in water management through nature-based water reuse.
Through these types of investments, British Columbia can attract and retain world-class talent, develop new jobs and companies, and support the advancement of research and technology in a variety of sectors, such as health and life sciences, information and communication technologies, social sciences and humanities, clean technology and natural resources.
Past recipients of the BCKDF include former UBC professor Carl Hansen, co-founder of AbCellera, which discovered an antibody for treatment against COVID-19, and UBC professor Pieter Cullis, who developed the lipid nanoparticle technology that allows the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine to enter human cells.
“The BCKDF plays a crucial role in the modernization of our universities’ research infrastructure capacity and capabilities,” said Anne Kang, B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “By investing in technologically advanced equipment and buildings, B.C. institutions will be well-positioned to develop successful collaborations with industry and other partners.”
The BCKDF enables B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions and affiliated research hospitals to compete for federal and private-sector funding, and matches Government of Canada investments made through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
“We are proud to partner with the BCKDF to invest in British Columbia’s teaching and research facilities,” said François-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This partnership is helping B.C. universities rise to the challenges facing Canadians across the country – from combating climate change to conserving our precious water resources, from fighting cancer to maintaining a high quality of life for our growing senior population – all while cultivating the top-notch talent we need to excel on the global stage.”
The BCKDF is a critical building block as the Province develops its economic plan. It will be a key contributor to rebuild and grow the economy by improving B.C.’s productivity and competitiveness. Other benefits include potential commercialization, spinoffs and patents, and discoveries that directly impact the lives of British Columbians in medicine and the management of the environment.
By investing in research projects, the B.C. government is continuing to support post-secondary institutions to build toward a more innovative, sustainable and inclusive future.
Dugan O’Neil, vice-president, research and international, SFU –
“This BCKDF funding will allow SFU's researchers to further strengthen their work in big data and explore new frontiers, collaborations and drive innovation and productivity across the province. It allows for the enhanced development of infrastructure and equipment to better serve and attract researchers and industry."
Will Garrett-Petts, associate vice-president, research and graduate studies, TRU –
“With a growing reputation as an open access research university, Thompson Rivers University is pleased to have been awarded provincial government funding ensuring that we remain at the forefront of research excellence and innovation. These investments are vital to B.C.’s Interior region, allowing us to attract and retain outstanding researchers, while also providing enhanced training facilities for our students. I extend sincerest congratulations to Dr. Van Hamme (see Backgrounder 2) and his colleagues, whose work is contributing new knowledge and the promise of improved quality of life for the communities we serve.”
Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor, UBC –
“UBC is home to some of the world’s top researchers, and this investment gives them access to cutting-edge scientific infrastructure that will support breakthroughs in fields like health care, clean technology, quantum science and agriculture. Whether it’s developing life-saving new drugs, ensuring literacy for all or creating novel technologies that give B.C. companies a competitive edge, this investment will promote a more healthy, innovative and sustainable society for all British Columbians.”
Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal, UBC - Okanagan campus –
“I’m thrilled to see this investment supporting cutting-edge innovation and expanding research infrastructure at UBC - Okanagan. Our campus is home to researchers tackling some of today’s most pressing challenges as they work towards finding the complex social, economic, cultural and technical solutions of tomorrow. With the support of the BCKDF, we hope to contribute to a better, safer, sustainable and more just future for the Okanagan, British Columbia and beyond.”
Lisa Kalynchuk, vice-president research and innovation, UVic –
“When we make investments in research, we invest in shared success in British Columbia, Canada and the world. Canada’s research communities need critical funding to build capacity, to bring new discoveries to light and to deliver essential training for tomorrow’s science teams. Today, Canadian researchers are demonstrating in real time just how committed UVic is to meeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and making a difference in Canada and around the world.”
- The BCKDF has awarded more than $800 million to more than 1,400 projects since the inception of the program in 1998.
- BCKDF funding spans sectors such as health and life sciences, nuclear physics, medicine, genomics, biotechnologies, clean tech, agrifoods, energy and mines, environment and climate change and forestry.
- The funding allocation is generally up to 40% from the BCKDF, up to 40% from the CFI and 20% from other contributors.
To learn more about the BC Knowledge Development Fund, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/technology-innovation/bckdf
To learn more about the Canada Foundation for Innovation, visit: https://www.innovation.ca/
To learn more about research at Simon Fraser University, visit: http://www.sfu.ca/research-at-sfu
To learn more about the Thompson Rivers University research department, visit: https://www.tru.ca/research.html
To learn more about the University of British Columbia research department, visit: https://research.ubc.ca/
To learn more about the University of British Columbia-Okanagan research department, visit: https://ok.ubc.ca/research/
To learn more about research at the University of Victoria, visit: https://www.uvic.ca/research/index.php
Five backgrounders follow.