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Organizations join forces to improve agri-research and learning in Alberta


Edmonton, AB May 20, 2003 An agreement has been struck between three of Alberta’s top agri-research and learning organizations to form an institute they say will benefit the province’s producers, processors and consumers.

Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, the University of Alberta and the Alberta Research Council have signed an agreement to establish the Institute for Food, Agri-Industrial, and Agricultural Sciences, Alberta (IFAASA). The founding members of the institute will pool resources, staff and facilities valued at more than C$750 million to co-manage and deliver agriculture, agri-food and agri-industrial research and education programs.

Scheduled to open in November, the institute is intended to avoid duplication of efforts by research organizations. It will also lead to the emergence of several centres of excellence, which were recommended by a recent industry report called Agrivantage.

Research at the institute will focus on the discovery of new technologies and knowledge, while product development and commercialization will focus on the application of those discoveries. Further, the institute will develop and deliver training and education programs, aiming to significantly increase the number of graduates from agriculture-related university, college and industry programs.

Victor Doerksen, minister of innovation and science responsible for the Alberta Science and Research Authority (owner of the Alberta Research Council), says that working cooperatively on projects will allow member organizations to focus on what they do best. “The Alberta Research Council, for example, will bring to the institute expertise in product development and commercialization, which will contribute to the industry’s value-added goals,” he says.

As the institute develops its research and education capacity, it is expected other established Alberta research organizations will join, including the Olds College Centre for Innovation and the University of Lethbridge. The institute also plans to develop short-term partnerships with national and international public and private sector investors.

Dr. Roderick Fraser, president of the University of Alberta, says the Institute will be a strong contributor to Alberta’s economy now and into the future. “This agreement takes us a step forward in training highly qualified personnel that will ensure future scientific capacity and a skilled workforce for Alberta,” he adds.