Memorial University is poised to become the world leader in diverse research activity ranging from medical genetics to fishing technology thanks to a major investment from the federal government, said Dr. Christopher W. Loomis, president and vice-chancellor pro tempore.
Ottawa announced almost $10 million in funding for research and development projects at the university during a news conference at the Marine Institute on Sunday, Jan. 31.
The Faculties of Medicine, and Engineering and Applied Science, along with the Marine Institute received funding under Round VII of the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) announced by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
C-CORE, a separately incorporated entity of Memorial, also received significant funding.
In total, ACOA is investing approximately $9.6 million in funding into Memorial projects.
The announcement was made by Peter MacKay, the federal minister of Natural Defence and minister responsible for this province.
“As the most successful university in Atlantic Canada in securing AIF funding, Memorial takes pride in partnering with businesses which rely on research and innovation to advance their competitiveness, productivity and access to their respective markets,” Dr. Loomis said.
“This includes working closely with technology-based industries to successfully commercialize the innovations emerging from our laboratories, as well as assisting in the growth of business-led research and development in the province. The AIF has become an indispensible program in achieving these goals.”
The Memorial-led research projects receiving AIF funding include:
• The Population Therapeutics Research Group (PTRG), a not-for-profit team within the Faculty of Medicine, which will receive $1.8 million from the AIF over a three-year period. Its researchers will develop a state-of-the-art information technology platform able to generate large sample groups – family trees – to conduct studies on the genetic contribution to specific disease states, drug efficacy and adverse events.
• The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, which will receive $2.1 million over a three-year period for a project involving Memorial’s autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). The funding will help integrate sonar and advanced feature-based navigation and adaptive mission control systems for the university’s Explorer AUV.
• The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, which will also receive $1.7 million over a four-year period from AIF for a project involving the use of high frequency radars to monitor ocean activity. Memorial will develop new software for high frequency radar signals that could be used in a variety of oceans-related research including identifying the path and speed of ships and icebergs, assisting search and rescue planning, and supporting meteorological applications such as weather forecasting.
• The Marine Institute’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources, which will receive roughly $1.8 million from the AIF over a five-year period to develop
and commercialize new bottom trawl fishing technology. The centre aims to use new technology to catch commercial quantities of finfish and shellfish with reduced seabed contact compared to traditional systems, thereby reducing significant environmental impact on the seabed. Researchers will undertake the design and computer simulation of innovative fishing systems, the evaluation of physical models using the Marine Institute flume tank, and the construction and evaluation of full-scale prototypes.
• And, C-CORE, a separately incorporated entity of Memorial and an international leader in the development and application of innovative engineering technologies for natural resource sectors, which will receive $2.2 million from AIF over a four-year period to go towards research in radar-based satellite monitoring. It will research into areas such as the next generation of satellite imaging and radar technology aimed at predicting subsurface ground movement.
The latest round of AIF funding will allow researchers to take their projects to a higher level, said
Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore at Memorial.
“I applaud ACOA for its vision and commitment to advance research that is having a real impact in our communities,” he noted.
“This funding will fuel leading-edge projects in Engineering, Medicine, at the Marine Institute and at C-CORE which position Memorial as a world leader in these fields of research.”