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Eleven new strategic research networks receive total of $56M in grants


Ottawa, ON – Eleven groundbreaking, large-scale, multidisciplinary research projects have received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). These projects will play an important role in connecting academic researchers to Canadian organizations.

The grants, totalling $56 million over five years, will support 11 research networks focused on areas of social and economic importance.

“Each of these 11 research networks will accelerate research in areas that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy,” says Suzanne Fortier, NSERC president. “Research networks also offer enhanced training opportunities for highly qualified people and facilitate knowledge transfer and mobilization to put research and development to work in communities across the country.”

Each research network will receive between $4.8 million and $5.3 million over five years to create strategic partnerships that bring together university researchers, industry and government. They have been chosen through a peer-reviewed competition. The 11 networks are:

• NSERC Biomaterials and Chemicals Strategic Network, at the University of British Columbia, will develop technologies based upon cost effective harvesting of biomass. Research in this area will explore efficient biofuels and rapid processing of residues such as short cellulose fibre. This network is led by biochemist Dr. John Kadla of the University of British Columbia.

• NSERC Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network, at the University of New Brunswick, is focused on developing balanced systems for aquaculture species for environmental sustainability, economic stability and social acceptability. Canada is at the forefront of the research and development of this concept. This network is led by biologist Dr. Thierry Chopin of the University of New Brunswick.

• NSERC Canadian Network for Research and Innovation in Machining Technology (CANRIMT), at the University of British Columbia, is focused on modeling, analysis, monitoring and control of machining processes for manufacturing automation. This network is led by mechanical engineer Dr. Yusuf Altintas of the University of British Columbia.

• NSERC Digital Surface Software Application Network (SurfNet), at the University of Calgary, will generate new knowledge and technology relevant to digital surfaces, including improved understanding of human interactions with digital surfaces. This network is led by Dr. Frank Maurer of the University of Calgary’s Department of Computer Science.

• NSERC Green Fibre Network, at McGill University, will develop fine papers made in combination with Canadian softwood and chemical pulps that will provide a competitive solution to the tropical, short-rotation species grown in other countries. This network is led by chemist Dr. Theodorus van de Ven of McGill University.

• NSERC’s Hydronet, at Université de Montréal, is a national research network designed to promote sustainable hydropower and healthy aquatic ecosystems. This network is led by biologist Dr. Daniel Boisclair of Université de Montréal.

• NSERC Network for New Manufacturing Technologies for Plastic Systems, at the University of Toronto, will develop innovative manufacturing technologies for high value-added plastics, with applications based on four targeted plastics systems: biomaterials, lightweight hybrid composite materials, micro- and nano-structured polymeric materials, and microcellular foams. This network is led by mechanical and industrial engineer Dr. Chul Park of the University of Toronto.

• NSERC Photovoltaic Innovation Network, at McMaster University, will provide a knowledge and technology base that will allow Canadian companies to compete in a burgeoning global market place for solar energy. This network is led by engineer Dr. Rafael Kleiman of McMaster University.

• NSERC Strategic Network for the production of single-type glycoform monoclonal antibodies (MabNet), at the University of Manitoba, will look at strategies for the large-scale production of these antibodies (“mAbs”), which are used in the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary disease and more. This network is led by microbiologist Dr. Michael Butler of the University of Manitoba.

• NSERC Strategic Network in Innovative Wood Products and Building Systems, at the University of New Brunswick, will apply new technologies for turning wood-based materials into sustainable building systems such as wood-biopolymer-based composite materials. This network is led by Dr. Ying Chui of the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management.

• NSERC Strategic Network on Value Chain Optimization, Université Laval, is aimed at optimizing efficiencies across the supply chain, from harvesting trees to bringing a product to market. This network is led by mechanical engineer Dr. Sophie D’Amours of Université Laval.