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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

September 18 , 2003

Memorial’s funding levels on the rise
Round II of the Atlantic Innovation Fund announced

Dr. Siu O'Young explains the RAVEN project to a reporter. RAVEN is one of the projects to receive funding under the Atlantic Innovation Fund.
Photo by David Sorensen
Dr. Siu O'Young explains the RAVEN project to a reporter. RAVEN is one of the projects to receive funding under the Atlantic Innovation Fund.

Five projects from Memorial University have been selected for funding under the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF). In addition to the $13.1 million Inco Innovation Centre, to be located at the university, Memorial will also receive $8.5 million to undertake four projects.

A total of $21.6 million in AIF funding was awarded to these innovative research and development projects that represent a major step toward helping Newfoundland and Labrador compete in the global, knowledge-based economy. AIF funds projects up to a maximum of 80 per cent of the total project costs; matching funds can be found from other funding sources such as federal granting agencies and private sector partners. The total funds generated from the four research projects plus the Inco Innovation Centre will bring into the university a total of almost $57 million.

The announcement was made at a press conference Sept. 11 by Gerry Byrne, minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and Newfoundland and Labrador’s representative in the federal cabinet.

“These projects demonstrate that there is a remarkable range of innovation and R&D taking place in our province’s research institutions and in the private sector of our economy,” said Mr. Byrne. “To transform this activity into a greater number of commercialized products and services, and ultimately, economic growth for our region, it is essential that strong partnerships be forged among our business and our research community. The AIF is proving to be a key catalyst in encouraging such partnerships.”

The four awarded projects represent a mix of private sector, university and community college initiatives located throughout the province. They relate to a range of new and emerging sectors such as information technology, biotechnology, medical technology, ocean technology, environmental technology, as well as traditional sectors such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining.

Memorial’s successful projects are:

The Centre for Marine Simulation will undertake a Modeling/Simulation of Harsh Environments project to provide workers in Newfoundland’s offshore with the necessary skills to ensure safety and efficiency in oil and gas operations in harsh maritime environments. Led by Capt. Anthony Patterson of Memorial’s Marine Institute, the centre will develop ice management tools focused on reducing human error at sea. The project aims to better understand human performance in ice-invested environments and to develop training tools to improve worker performance. It incorporates three independent activities: simulation infrastructure, model development and human factors studies.

H Memorial University’s Botanical Garden will undertake a project named Plant Atlantic to establish a home-based production industry for Atlantic Canadian hardy ornamental plants. The project will employ biotechnological methodologies such as tissue culture and micro-propagation along with classic hybridization, plant exploration and selection in the discovery of new ornamental plants. Industry partners will then commercially produce and market them to the local, national and international markets. The project is led by Dr. Wilf Nicholls, director of the Botanical Garden.

H RAVEN – Remote Aerial Vehicles for Environmental monitoring, a project of Memorial’s Instrumentation, Control & Automation Centre (INCA), proposes to develop a maritime surveillance system utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The project would utilize commercially available UAVs, and develop flight management and target tracking systems. Specifically, INCA will develop a Mission Management System required for control and communications; modify a marine Automatic Identification System to perform ship tracking and develop an Autonomous Guidance System for identifying and tracking objects such as icebergs. Civilian applications of UAVs are a new research area for Canada and is just beginning to emerge worldwide, with a concentration at universities. Dr. Siu O’Young, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is the lead investigator.

H Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine and School of Pharmacy will develop an online, database-driven application for pharmacogenetics and drug effectiveness research. Lead investigator Dr. Proton Rahman said the PRD will be a complex application of bio-informatics that will bring together drug prescription, health, and genetic information for the purpose of research. “The PRD will attract researchers and industry clients seeking to take advantage of its capabilities and resources,” said Dr. Rahman. It will also achieve significant medical and prescription cost savings and build the region's pharmacogenetics, genomics and IT industries, and create additional capacity and expertise in these emerging fields.”

The purpose-built database, accessed through the Centre for Applied Health Research, will provide research and analysis capability in the areas of drug therapy effectiveness, drug/drug interactions and pharmacogenetics (the study of the genetic basis of drug response). Linking through the provincial Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Network, it will access anonymous data on every prescription filled in the province by all pharmacies, hospitals and clinics, as well as demographic and health information essential to the research. In addition, it will have the capacity to incorporate targeted data collection components to meet specific requirements of pharmaceutical or genomics industry clients, and for use by researchers at Memorial .

The total value of these four Memorial University projects is $23.8 million, which includes the $8.49 million in AIF funding, plus $15.2 million anticipated to be leveraged by the proponents through private sector and other government funding partnerships.

“With the aid of this latest round of AIF announcements, Memorial’s research funding levels have risen considerably. This is what we are striving for so that we can better support our students (especially our graduate students), the development of our province and the creation of new knowledge for the benefit of all humankind,” said Dr. Meisen

For more on the latest round of AIF funding, see

A detailed look at Memorial’s AIF-funded projects will appear in an upcoming issue of the Gazette.




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Next issue: October 2, 2003

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