MP Breakfast Connections, Enigma Urban Eatery, Vancouver BC
Thank you, Joyce, and good morning everybody!
I am so happy to be here. Joyce, UBC values your support as our local MP. We also value the support we receive from your government for our research and teaching activities.
As one of Canada’s leading research universities – indeed one of the top 50 research universities in the world – UBC places a high value on research and innovation.
University research provides direct and indirect benefits to our communities, our country and the world. It also enhances the educational experience for our students.
Our transformation from a strong regional university to one with global relevance is due in large part to our research performance, which has been underpinned by federal and provincial support.
This year UBC reached a new record for UBC for research project funding – $658 million
Of this, $201 million came from the government tri-council agencies, representing natural sciences and engineering, health, and the social sciences humanities.
This generous increase was in response to the Fundamental Science Review, commissioned by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, which sought to review and optimize support for fundamental science in Canada.
The biggest disruptions and largest potential for impact come from the fundamental science that is supported by the Tri-council funding agencies.
Basic science is at the heart of big breakthroughs, and the latest budget announced increase in support for this investigator-led research
Supporting fundamental research also supports our students, who go on to become the researchers and innovators of tomorrow.
Top-flight talent wants to be in and near innovation: innovative people, ideas, and opportunities.
UBC research is attracting that talent – specific federal programs, like the Canada Research Chairs program and the recently announced Canada 150 Research Chairs have been essential to our global talent recruitment efforts.
UBC research has had and continues to have far–reaching impacts and a direct impact on the lives of Canadians.
I could give many examples – for example, Dr. Julio Montaner’s work on HIV/AIDS. His treatment methods have been adopted by the World Health Organization as the global standard of health care in HIV/AIDS, and have essentially turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.
Or Dr. Michael Smith, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1993.
His research into reprogramming the code of a DNA molecule led to one of the fundamental techniques used in genetic engineering – site-directed mutagenesis – that allowed researchers to alter the DNA sequence of any gene in a designated manner. This paved the way for new fields of scientific research and played a pivotal role in the development of a biotechnology economy.
Today we continue to push the boundaries of knowledge in many disciplines at UBC.
For example, the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute is recognized as a world leader in partnership with Max Planck and the University of Tokyo.
The work done there – supported by NSERC, CFI, Canada Research Chairs and CFREF – has led to amazing scientific breakthroughs. With these breakthroughs come new worlds of technical possibilities in computing, medicine and maybe even new industries we’ve not even yet conceived.
The challenges we face today are complex, which is why real change happens at the intersection of disciplines. This type of collaborative research is key to solving major global problems that defy the boundaries of single disciplines.
UBC’s Research Excellence Clusters Initiative was developed precisely to support this kind of collaboration between researchers.
For example, Janet Werker is a world-leading developmental psychologist and linguist whose work has transformed our understanding of early infant and child language acquisition. She has been supported by the government in her position as a Canada Research Chair in Psychology, and as a recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Gold Medal, the Council’s highest honour.
Through research excellence cluster activities, Janet and her colleagues are working with linguists and others to create voice recognition technology, and with neuroscientists to help speech recovery in stroke patients
Not only is UBC recognized for its research excellence – it also has a stellar track record of moving research discoveries into the public sphere through patenting, licensing and company creation to generate positive social and economic benefits.
Innovation is also a major theme in our new strategic plan.
We recently launched the Innovation UBC network to help transform research and entrepreneurial drive into new products, policies and practices that improve lives around the world.
Translating research into impact is clearly a priority shared by the government, as seen in its awarding of $950 million for five innovation superclusters across the country.
This investment will be matched dollar for dollar by industry, and these superclusters are poised to transform regional innovation ecosystems and create more than 50,000 jobs over ten years
UBC is a proud founding member of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, based right here in B.C.
We’re excited to be working in partnership with over 350 organizations from across the province and the nation in this supercluster, which will result in BC being recognized globally as a leading source for digital innovation.
In sum – government research funding is helping UBC and other universities contribute to a brighter future for Canada and the world.