Sept. 5, 2019

New federal funding supports UCalgary’s commitment to economic diversification and innovation

Western Economic Diversification Canada provides $7.2 million for four projects

The innovation ecosystem being cultivated by the University of Calgary received a substantial boost with a significant funding announcement from the federal government for four key projects that help take cutting-edge research and turn it into commercial ventures.

Western Economic Diversification Canada announced a total of $7.2 million targeted at UCalgary initiatives designed to foster innovation and help diversify Calgary’s economy.

“This funding will provide crucial resources, and it demonstrates a firm commitment to driving innovation at the University of Calgary, as we continue advancing real-world solutions in our community and around the world,” says Dr. Ed McCauley, president of the University of Calgary. “We’re excited that Western Economic Diversification Canada sees the capacity of our researchers and values their contributions to society.”

The funding announcement includes $3.1 million for the Life Sciences Innovation Hub, $1.1 million for the W21C Digital Health Innovation Hub, $2 million for Alberta Precision Exchange (APEX), and $1 million for the Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies. Read the announcement and the backgrounder. 

“As our health-care needs continue to evolve, it is vital that medical knowledge and technologies keep pace,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development and minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “Funding announced today helps strengthen Alberta’s life sciences sector and contributes to our country’s innovation and global competitiveness.”

  • Navdeep Bains, in photo above, speaking at an event on the UCalgary campus in 2016. University of Calgary photo 

The Life Sciences Innovation Hub (LSIH), opened its doors earlier this summer in University Research Park as one of the largest life sciences-oriented business incubators and research commercialization centres in the country. This new money will be used to outfit the LSIH’s shared lab space with some of its most critical equipment (e.g., centrifuges, cell culture equipment), as well as expand lab offerings by developing a clean room. Since opening its doors, 12 companies have already moved in to take advantage of the shared wet lab and office space. The LSIH now has 18 expert advisers enrolled to support life science-based companies and startups in moving their venture forward, plus 16 staff.

The money earmarked for the W21C Digital Health Innovation Hub will be used to support internships, staff resources, and opportunities for industry engagement. The Digital Health Innovation Hub will connect subject matter experts working on digital health care solutions with major markets and multinational partners, and provide technology validation and evaluation services. W21C is a partnership between UCalgary and Alberta Health Services that conducts health systems research with a mandate to improve patient safety and quality of care.

The Alberta Precision Exchange (APEX) is a not-for-profit foundation involving medical and bioscience researchers that helps accelerate and streamline the development of new precision diagnostic technologies for commercialization so they can have a real-world impact on the treatment of patients.

The Creative Destruction Lab is a seed-stage program for massively scalable science and technology-based companies. The program employs an objectives-based mentoring process with the goal of maximizing equity value creation. The Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies is based out of the Haskayne School of Business and is one of six Canadian locations for CDL, and the only one in Alberta.

The new funding will be used to increase capacity to support more high-potential early-stage companies in deep science and technologies, including clean techology and power providers.