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Biotech partnership facility for plant science research opens in Saskatchewan


Saskatoon, SK March 5, 2003 Yesterday saw the official opening of the NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute (NRC-PBI) Industry Partnership Facility, in which a number of innovative plant-science companies were welcomed to Saskatchewan’s newest facility for research and innovation.

The new facility is a C$15.4-million expansion to the NRC-PBI, built in order to house incubation and research equipment for start-up plant-science companies. Firms in the NRC-PBI Industry Partnership Facility will not only have space for laboratories and offices, but also easy access to analytical services and controlled environmental growth rooms.

Construction on the facility began in February 2001. The Western Economic Partnership Agreement funded $4.9 million of the cost while the Canada Saskatchewan Agri-Food Innovation Fund provided an additional $1.5 million. The remaining $9 million was provided by NRC.

Present at the opening were Ralph Goodale, minister of public works and government services Canada on behalf of Allan Rock, minister of industry and minister responsible for the National Research Council (NRC) and Eric Cline, QC, minister of Saskatchewan Industry and Resources.

“The National Research Council has already been a major catalyst for economic growth in the Saskatoon high-tech sector,” says Minister Goodale. “This facility will build upon the NRC presence in a unique way, while strengthening the Ag-Biotech cluster and Canada’s position as a leader in research and innovation in this field.”

NRC-PBI promotes and conducts collaborative plant biotechnology research with universities, other government departments and agricultural biotechnology companies. It assists with transferring research to product development and commercialization and is a training centre for plant biotechnology scientists.

“NRC-PBI continues to attract scientists and industry to one of the leading plant biotechnology clusters in the world,” says Dr Arthur Carty, NRC president. “Thanks to the NRC-PBI’s Industry Partnership Facility, Saskatchewan is now home to new plant science companies and has a new resource to serve established firms.”

Guardian Biotechnologies, Agrisoma Biosciences, Seed Check Technologies and Targeted Growth Canada are the new firms that have established a Saskatoon presence at the new facility. Bioriginal Food and Science, a Saskatchewan-based natural health products company strongly founded in science has also set up research operations at the NRC-PBI Industry Partnership Facility. The NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute is one of NRC’s 18 research institutes across Canada, and one of five working in the biotechnology sector.

The NRC-PBI Industry Partnership Facility is among 300 projects the Canada-Saskatchewan Agri-Food Innovation Fund (AFIF) has supported since 1997. The federal-provincial agreement, under which $91 million AFIF operated, ends this month.