MPHEC Reports Strong Growth in Research and Development Funding

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A report released today by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) compliments Atlantic Canada universities on the good work they are doing in research and development. The report, Research and Development Funding in Atlantic Canada, examines regional trends in RandD funding.

The report indicates that in PEI, total private and public sector expenditures on research and development more than doubled between 1995 and 2002, increasing by 131 per cent from $13 million to $30 million. On a per capita basis, total expenditures increased by 121 per cent from $97 per capita to $214 per capita.

In PEI, the largest growth was experienced by the higher education sector where per capita expenditures increased from $12 in 1995 to $90 in 2002, an increase of 624 per cent. Prince Edward Island's growth in this area outpaced each Atlantic province, which ranged from 97 per cent to 160 per cent. It was also much higher than the national growth rate of 88 pert cent.

"We are very encouraged by the exemplary work being done by UPEI faculty, students and staff. We look forward now to building on this success through research and development partnerships with the private sector," said Education Minister Mildred Dover. "This is very important work because RandD and the commercialization of RandD are main drivers of the new knowledge-based economy."

According to the report, Atlantic Canada universities have kept pace with funding at the national level; however funding from the Atlantic region's business sector is below the national level.

The report highlights the fact that PEI has the highest proportion of expenditures per capita in social science research at 32 per cent, or $40 per capita. PEI experienced a 163 per cent increase in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, which was the largest increase in this type of funding in Atlantic Canada. Prince Edward Island also stands out when it comes to Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) funding. In 2003 CIHR funding per full-time faculty at UPEI, at $67,000, was higher than any other Atlantic province and the Western provinces.

"At UPEI we have a powerful array of researchers in diverse areas. They are working on issues of direct interest to the PEI community and to the bigger world, regionally, nationally and internationally," said UPEI President Wade MacLauchlan. "Our research successes benefit from a special capacity to work together, to take advantage of our scale, and to build on essential community partnerships."

UPEI's growth in research activity is evidenced by its five high-calibre Canada Research Chairs. Last year, external research grants to UPEI reached $10 million. In the past five years, the number of health-related research projects carried out by PEI researchers grew from 19 to 81 research projects.

UPEI recently added two internationally known scientists to its growing pool of research talent. Dr. Michael van den Heuvel and Dr. Cai Song have been named Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs. Dr. Song is working to understand the causes of brain inflammation, which often lead to symptoms of diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Dr. van den Heuvel's research focusses on the health of marine environments in PEI. It will address questions on how to monitor environmental problems and develop solutions to ensure a sustainable future. UPEI continues to receive national recognition for its research excellence.

Earlier this month, Research Infosource Inc, a firm that monitors Canadian universities' success in research development, designated UPEI as one of three Research Universities of the Year. "These are outstanding accomplishments, especially for a small university and a small province," said Minister Dover. "They have a far-reaching positive impact on the university, Islanders and our economy. Congratulations to the researchers, students and staff on this fine work."

For more information contact:

Jean Doherty

Department of Education

902 368 6449

Anne McCallum

University of Prince Edward Island

902 566 0760

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Anne McCallum
Media Relations and Communications