MUN researchers vigorously pursuing AIF funding
Memorial University researchers have been hard at work developing proposals for the newly created $300 million Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF). If approved, these proposals will greatly benefit the Atlantic region, the province and the university. The fund, which was announced in June, was set up by the federal government to strengthen innovation capacity, increase the Atlantic region's competitiveness and encourage the transition to a more knowledge-based economy. The AIF will help finance research and development and related initiatives in the areas of natural and applied sciences, social sciences and humanities linked explicitly to the development of technology-based products, processes or services or their commercialization.
Memorial has submitted proposals in the strategic areas of aquaculture, mining, ocean sciences, information technology, health, rural and community development, and the oil and gas sector. Some of the benefits to the region will include: job creation in the research and industrial sectors, increased profit margins for many companies, opportunities for start-ups of new companies and/or the expansion of existing companies, environmental protection, enhancement of professional development, training of a skilled work-force and overall diversity of the local economy.
"We are committed to working with the AIF, members of the private sector and other partners in what is an exceptional opportunity for Memorial to commercialize and expand the research and development capacity of our region," said Dr. Meisen, president, Memorial University.
Pan-Atlantic proposals have also been developed with various universities in the region. Memorial, in partnership with four other universities (Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University, University College of Cape Breton and the University of New Brunswick) has formed the Pan Atlantic Petroleum Systems Consortium (PPSC) to capitalize on opportunities for oil and gas development in the region. "The PPSC has applied for major AIF funding to build critical mass and enable technology transfer in a broad spectrum of endeavors related to oil and gas development," said Dr. James Wright, head, Department of Earth Sciences.
Dave King, president of the Genesis Group, Memorial's the technology commercialization arm, has been spearheading a regional commercialization network comprising eight Atlantic universities. "Over the next five years, the AIF program has the potential to increase research and development spending at Atlantic universities by over 50 per cent annually. Regionally, we need to have the critical mass of commercialization capability to match this tremendous increase in research if we are to capitalize on the unprecedented potential for economic benefit in Atlantic Canada."
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency held a series of consultations with stakeholders on various aspects of the program's development, design and implementation. These consultations resulted in the final program details. ACOA now administers the program. Decisions are expected in 2002.