A $20 million investment over five years to support research and innovation in New Brunswick was announced yesterday on the UNB Saint John campus by Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Danny Soucy as part of the government’s $80 million innovation strategy.

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 over the next five years.

“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. “This type of investment showcases the support our researchers have earned and will allow them to continue the fantastic work they are doing.”  Researchers such as Drs. Karen Kidd and Chris Gray.

“My students and I strive to understand how human activities affect the health of rivers and lakes across Canada,” says Karen Kidd, Canada Research Chair and Professor of Biology at UNBSJ and the Canadian Rivers Institute.

“We look at runoff from aquaculture and agriculture, discharges from pulp and paper mills, oil refineries and municipalities, and contaminants that get into waters from remote sources because of long distant transport through the atmosphere.”

“Thanks to NBIF, we have established a world class lab at UNBSJ in ecotoxicology and provide undergraduates and graduates state-of-the-art training that gives them a huge advantage when they apply for jobs or more training.  The lab attracts students and collaborators from across Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Europe because of what they can accomplish here and the growing reputation of this centre.”

“UNB’s Natural Products Research Group focuses on the discovery of new therapeutic drugs and natural health products from Canadian medicinal plants and, most interestingly, the microorganisms associated with these medicinal plants,” explains Dr. Chris Gray, assistant chemistry professor.

“The plants will represent commodities previously unrecognized and unexploited by these industries.”

The foundation’s Research Technicians Initiative and the Research Assistantships Initiative will also receive a significant investment of six million dollars 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.”

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