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Construction Begins on NRC Institute at UPEI

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The Honourable Shawn Murphy, MP for Charlottetown, on behalf of the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), and the Honourable Joe McGuire, Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, held a ceremonial event on November 12 to kick-off construction of the new NRC Institute for Nutrisciences and Health (NRC-INH) on the UPEI campus.

The Institute, a partnership between the NRC, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) and the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), will be the nucleus of a dynamic research cluster bringing together the critical mass of skilled people, expertise, capital and entrepreneurial drive to fuel economic development in the region and help Canadians through its research into critical health issues.

"Since the earliest planning days, this new NRC Institute was envisioned as the hub of the nutrisciences cluster that is emerging in this region," said Mr. Murphy. "Today we see that vision begin to take physical shape, and it is exciting to know that it, like the many NRC institutes across the country, will attract investment and opportunity on a grand scale."

"PEI has many of the characteristics that make it an ideal environment in which to grow a technology cluster. There is a solid foundation of basic and health-related research, accessible levels of government that can respond quickly to challenges and opportunities, and a cross-sector willingness and enthusiasm to work together to make the initiative succeed," said Minister Emerson.

"The partnerships built within the PEI cluster will not only strengthen the research base, but will also foster the development of new products, services, businesses and high-quality jobs", Minister McGuire said.

Scientists at the NRC Institute in Charlottetown specialize in studying compounds found in nature for their potential to improve health. Three primary areas of concentration are neurological disorders, obesity-related disorders, and infection and immunity. Teams work along the research continuum from discovery of the compounds, to refinement and, ultimately to their commercialization.

"Innovation in research and development will be key to the growth of our economy," said PEI Development and Technology Minister Mike Currie, on behalf of Premier Pat Binns. "The partnerships that are fostered by the NRC - Institute for Nutrisciences and Health will form the basis for our emerging bio-sciences sector and will be an important component of job and wealth creation for this province."

"This cluster is one of the hottest things in Canada today. It represents a platform for sustained success, combining the strengths of the NRC, the expertise at UPEI, a dynamic private sector, exceptional support from government, and an enthusiastic community," said UPEI President Wade MacLauchlan. "The challenge now is to keep building it with the highest possible ambitions for national and international success."

Construction of the $11.5 million, 5 127 square meter (55,269 square foot) facility, will be complete in early 2006. NRC-INH has been designed to house leading-edge equipment and to maximize interaction and collaboration among the teams of highly skilled research professionals. The first floor will consist of administrative offices, meeting rooms, a lecture theatre and space for the local branch of the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and NRC Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (NRC-CISTI).

The remaining three floors will house sophisticated research labs and equipment. At full complement, the Institute will accommodate 80 to 100 individuals. Plans also provide dedicated space on each of the three research floors for private sector partners. Scientists from companies with commercial potential in the nutrisciences field will be able to develop their programs through access to the facilities, equipment and research collaboration offered by the Institute. After a period of incubation, successful industrial partners will leave the facility and continue to develop and expand in the private sector in the community.

"We are very proud of the research program and the team being built at the institute by our Lead Scientist Dr. Michael Mayne," said Acting NRC President Michael Raymont, noting that three internationally recognized research scientists recently joined the Institute and during its first few months, the Institute has succeeded in attracting its first external research grants, and has produced several scientific publications. "High-quality people are key to our ultimate goal of serving Canada."

Initial funding for the NRC-INH was announced in July 2003. Funding partners include NRC ($20 million over 5 years); ACOA ($8 million); and the province of PEI ($3.5 million). UPEI contributed the property for the facility.

Recognized globally for research and innovation, Canada's National Research Council (NRC) is a leader in the development of an innovative, knowledge-based economy for Canada through science and technology


Suzanne Copan
Communications Officer, NRC-INH