Okanagan campus supports industry collaborations through research
University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus leads the country in an important category of sponsored research. Since the Engage Grants (EG) program was introduced by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in 2010, UBC has been the biggest EG user of any Canadian university, with the Okanagan campus receiving a disproportionately large percentage of those grants.
Researchers at UBC’s Okanagan campus have received $1,363,254 for 55 projects since the start of the EG program. As of January, the campus has acquired $474,362 for 19 projects during NSERC’s 2012-13 fiscal year, which ends March 31.
UBC has received $4,472,509 for 184 projects since the beginning of the program, with this year’s institutional total reaching $1,893,878 for 77 projects.
“The NSERC Engage program really suits researchers who are energetic, flexible, and have a lot of initiative and UBC’s Okanagan campus has a lot of these researchers,” says Miriam Grant, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Vice Provost, Research, at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “Our campus is nimble and dedicated to including our community partners in cutting-edge research that solves the everyday problems they face.
“These Engage Grants have resulted in exciting collaborations within our community and have supported hundreds of students who will one day be first-class academics and business leaders themselves.”
Engage Grants are designed to give Canadian companies access to the unique knowledge and expertise available at Canadian universities. As well, these grants foster the development of new research partnerships between academic researchers and companies by supporting short-term research and development projects aimed at solving company-specific problems in the natural sciences and engineering fields.
A current research initiative at UBC’s Okanagan campus supported by the Engage Grants program is being done by Associate Professor of Biology Michael Russello in partnership with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia. The project is exploring genomic solutions for guiding production of Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia hatchery-raised kokanee salmon and health of native stocks.
“On a per researcher basis, the Okanagan campus is by far the most successful location in Canada for using this program to kick-start new relationships with companies,” says Derek Gratz, associate director of the University-Industry Liaison Office at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “The federal government has introduced these types of programs to increase connections between Canadian companies and experts at universities, to solve challenging business problems, and provide an additional return to the economy from the investments made in education and research.
“Faculty members here are particularly attuned to connecting with companies. These successful Engage Grants show that industry is interested, too, and we are already seeing examples of longer-term research relationships developing as a result,” says Gratz.