Innovation funding seen as way to stimulate Atlantic Canada economy

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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FREDERICTON The president of the University of New Brunswick says research and development projects will build the new economy in Atlantic Canada.

FREDERICTON The president of the University of New Brunswick says research and development projects will build the new economy in Atlantic Canada.

John McLaughlin made the comment Monday as the federal government announced $17.5 million for seven projects under the latest round of awards from the Atlantic Innovation Fund.

Weve got to build an economy that adds more value, that creates more wealth, that is more competitive, thats more productive, McLaughlin said. Weve got to move now, and make strategic investments in the new economy.

He said that while the funding goes to the research community, the entire region is banking on its success.

The creative economy is going to be at the heart of our future. Thats where productivity is going to come...thats where the future for our kids is, McLaughlin told a crowd gathered at the Wu Conference Centre on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton.

The latest projects range from improving the quality of soil, to finding better materials for use in space.

Keith Ashfield, federal minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, said the Atlantic region is turning innovation into advantage.

This approach is helping to provide the lasting stimulus that Atlantic Canada needs, he said. The fund is also helping to generate positions and opportunities that will keep highly skilled professionals in Atlantic Canada while attracting other skilled workers to our communities from across the country and around the world.

He said in addition to the $17.5 million from the fund, the projects are expected to leverage an additional $16.6 million in funding from a number of private and public sector sources.

Ashfield said the real value comes when the final products or technology are sold commercially.

One of the seven projects aims to reduce infection and disease in salmon aquaculture in Atlantic Canada.

Carol McClure, of the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, P.E.I., is one of the project leaders.

With this program, we will be a step ahead of the other salmon producing countries as far as health management goes, and hopefully with production, she said.

Meanwhile, a team at UNB is using biotechnology to find enzymes to break down wood chips used in making pulp and paper.

Prof. Kecheng Li said the use of the enzymes should cut the energy requirements and cost of producing the pulp.

The biggest project involves the evaluation of impact-resistant materials for the aerospace and defence industries.

Organizations: Atlantic Veterinary College, University of New Brunswick, Atlantic Innovation Fund Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Aquatic Health Sciences

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, FREDERICTON, Charlottetown

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