SAINT JOHN, N.B. – A $20 million investment over five years to support research and innovation in New Brunswick was announced today by Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Danny Soucy as part of the government’s $80 million innovation strategy.
Soucy was joined at the Saint John announcement by Robert Hatheway, chair of the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.
“Research and innovation is of paramount importance to help us accelerate economic growth as we rebuild New Brunswick,” said Soucy. “Today’s investment brings us a step closer to our goal of accelerating innovation-based entrepreneurship and creating the conditions for the commercialization of current and future research in public universities, colleges and research centres.”
Of the $20 million, $14 million will be allocated to the foundation’s Research Innovation Fund. The fund invests in projects that expand the innovation capacity of the province and that demonstrate potential for commercialization. It enables provincial researchers to gain access to additional research dollars from a number of national agencies and industry.
The investment represents a threefold increase in support to leading-edge research in universities, colleges and research centres. It will allow the foundation to support more than 140 applied research projects and provide incentive for the hiring of up to 20 researchers in the province during the next five years.
“For every dollar the foundation invests in a project, the researcher can obtain between five and seven dollars more from other sources,” said Hatheway. “This investment in our Research Innovation Fund will create opportunities to get more New Brunswick innovation into the hands of industry and to create new companies.”
The foundation’s Research Technicians Initiative and the Research Assistantships Initiative will also receive a significant investment of $6 million over the next five years. This could represent up to 450 student research assistantships and 20 new research technicians over the next five years.
“Innovation begins with education and learning,” said Soucy. “When instructors have the resources to undertake leading-edge research, what they learn finds its way into classrooms and labs and ultimately impacts the way students look at economic opportunities.”
Since its inception in 2003, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation has invested $41 million and leveraged an additional $272 million in funding.
As of March 31, 2013, the foundation has funded 339 research projects within the province’s universities, community colleges and research organizations and completed investments in 66 private sector companies.
“Our researchers are recognized on a national, and even an international, level,” said Robert MacKinnon, vice-president of the University of New Brunswick, Saint John campus. “This type of investment showcases the support our researchers have earned and will allow them to continue the fantastic work they are doing.”
The foundation is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that makes venture capital investments in start-up companies; funds applied research at New Brunswick research organizations, and provides innovation vouchers for established businesses. The financial returns earned go back into the foundation to be re-invested into even more start-up companies and applied research.