Lab Canada

NSERC to set up prairie office in Winnipeg as part of new vision for agency

Winnipeg, MN October 6, 2003 The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) says it will open an office in Winnipeg next year.

“Every year NSERC invests more than $700 million in university research across Canada, yet up to now all its staff have been in Ottawa,” says Dr Rey Pagtakhan, secretary of state for science, research and development and regional Minister for Manitoba. “The Winnipeg office will be involved in helping the Prairie universities build research capacity and in stimulating innovation in the communities of our region.”

“We will also listen better if we’re closer,” says Tom Brzustowski, president of NSERC. “And we’ll make sure our Winnipeg staff are sufficiently senior to be able to make decisions and take prompt action locally.”

The organization says that similar small offices will eventually be established in Atlantic Canada, Qubec, Ontario and British Columbia.

Last year, Prairie researchers received more than 2,800 NSERC grants and scholarships worth a total of C$88 million. The universities that will be served by the new office include Brandon University, the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg, the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, Athabasca University, The King’s University College, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge.

The establishment of local offices is part of a new “vision” for NSERC, which was endorsed by the agency’s council in June this year. Its traditional work of investing in people, discovery and innovation through national competitions will remain the federal agency’s major responsibility, but in addition it says it will:

– find ways to build the capacity of smaller universities to do excellent research;
– set up a program that will allow community colleges to play a greater role in helping small- and medium-sized businesses succeed in stimulating innovation at the local level;
– work with the provinces to improve science education in primary and secondary schools; and
– develop a framework for “big science” projects.

“Not all the details of the Winnipeg office have been worked out at this point we will be consulting university people, officials of the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, business people and others to help us design the set-up that will work best for the Prairies,” says Dr Brzustowski.

Dr Pagtakhan says he will be meeting NSERC-supported researchers from all three Manitoba universities at an event at the University of Manitoba October 14.