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Springboard Atlantic jumpstarted at Memorial

Members of the province's business sector gathered at Memorial on June 14 to hear about the launch of a new university-led research commercialization network, Springboard Atlantic Inc.

Dr. Axel Meisen, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University; Paul Mills, ACOA Newfoundland and Labrador vice-president; and Sara Jane Snook, executive director of Springboard, introduced the network and its objectives to representatives of the local business community, governments and economic and business development organizations.

Springboard's aim is to encourage economic growth through the commercialization of university-based research and development. Other regions in the nation have had success in forming similar collaborative networks such as Westlink in Western Canada and Le Bleu in Quebec.

The Springboard network consists of 14 universities in Atlantic Canada who are pooling their resources to build on their economic and research capacity and will hire specialists in strategic disciplines to work with researchers and their private sector collaborators to take discoveries and inventions into the marketplace. In total, there will be 18 technology transfer specialists who will be geographically dispersed, based at the various member institutions throughout Atlantic Canada, but accessible to all 14 of the universities in the network. These experts will have a specialty area and will be able to assess whether a technology has commercial potential, as well as being knowledgeable about patents and licensing in their area of expertise.

Funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) - $3.6 million over a three-year period - Springboard will provide proof of concept, patenting and legal funds for university researchers to expedite the commercialization of research.

"This goal of Springboard Atlantic is to build the economic capacity of the region," said John Efford, federal minister of Natural Resources. "It is important for us to work together - government, universities and the private sector - to bring research and development from the academic settings to the marketplace, creating new jobs and business opportunities. We believe Springboard Atlantic will help accelerate that technology transfer from Atlantic Canadian universities to commercial ventures in the region."

"Springboard members are finding that this way of working opens doors to allow large-scale collaborations and partnerships with industry, the venture capital community and public organizations such as the National Research Council," said Dr. Meisen, who is also chair of the Association of Atlantic Universities. "Springboard also gives us a seat at the table to develop national policy regarding innovation and technology commercialization. By uniting the resources of the universities in Atlantic Canada, we achieve the critical mass essential to success."

For more information about Springboard, see www.springboardatlantic.ca.