Lab Canada

Alberta launches $100M program it says will transform research funding across Canada

Calgary, AB – In a new, highly targetted $100-million program, Alberta’s provincial research-funding arm, Alberta Ingenuity, says it is setting out on a path that will significantly change the entire funding landscape across Canada.

Similar to approaches taken at elite institutions around the world, such as the Carnegie Institute at Stanford University, the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, and the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, the new “Ingenuity Accelerators” program is based on providing significant levels of financial support to attract outstanding researchers to work in areas important to Alberta’s economic future.

“The Accelerators program has been in the making for over two years, and I am confident we have a formula that is going to revolutionize research in Alberta, and Canada,” says Dr Peter Hackett, president and CEO of Alberta Ingenuity. “The approach is simple – attract exceptional people, provide exceptional levels of support, allow those individuals to achieve exceptional results, and create the exceptional economic and social benefits that will position Alberta as a global innovation icon.”

The government’s vision is to create a system of accelerators in areas of critical importance to the province. Each “Ingenuity Accelerator” will be embedded within the province’s research institutions, led by three researchers in a globally-significant field with critical relevance to Alberta’s future, and have a budget of $100 million over 10 years.

This highly targeted funding program is a considerable change to how the organization has provided research funding in the past, and is expected to make a major impact on the province’s future prosperity. The new program will be rolled out in phases and each Accelerator will support and align with provincial priorities and economic diversification goals. The first Accelerator will be awarded in the area of nanotechnology.

Alberta Ingenuity’s Science and Engineering Advisory Council (SEAC), a panel of international leaders in research, policy development and technology commercialization that provides strategic advice, helped in shaping the concept.

“The Alberta Ingenuity Accelerators program marks an innovative step for the province’s research landscape,” says William Pulleyblank, vice president of the IBM Center for Business Optimization and SEAC member. “With the program’s emphasis on commercialization and business development, it will face many challenges as it breaks new ground, but ultimately will give Alberta an opportunity to add a significant advanced technology sector to its economy.”

John Hepburn, vice-president research at the University of British Columbia and another SEAC member, says: “I think other jurisdictions will be watching Alberta closely to see how this program rolls out and will be seriously considering a similar targeted approach to research funding.”

Central to the process of developing the specific direction and key partnerships of each Accelerator is the recruitment of world-class scientific leadership. A panel of internationally-renowned scientists and industry experts is being established to assess strategic opportunities and assist in the recruitment process. This panel will play an important role as the first Accelerator in nanotechnology gets up and running.