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New Database Launched To Help Researchers In Atlantic Canada

SYDNEY, N.S. – A database designed to connect entrepreneurs and researchers in Atlantic Canada officially launched this week.

The new program, known as AFRED (Atlantic Facilities and Research Equipment Database), has been developed to outline equipment availability at universities across the region.

AFRED is an initiative designed by Science Atlantic, a non-profit association of 16 post-secondary and research institutes in Atlantic Canada.

David McCorquodale, professor of biology and dean of Science and Technology at Cape Breton University, serves as the chair of Science Atlantic.

He said the organization has been in the planning and building process of this database for the past six or seven years.

“The goal is basically a networking and cooperation initiative,” said McCorquodale, a resident of Georges River. “What we want to do is put researchers and equipment together,

“There is also an economic development spin-off in that some small and large companies work on research, and it’s all about university researchers and equipment and it also gives them access to equipment and the expertise as well.”

AFRED is an open-access database that links users with facilities and equipment needed. The program saves time, while also saving people from buying equipment, which already exists. Currently, over 400 pieces of equipment are available.

The innovative will help make costly projects possible, accelerate research projects as well as bringing innovative products and processes to the market faster, helping grow Atlantic Canada’s economy and creating jobs.

“The networking, putting people together, it’s got benefits for researches in that it puts them in contact with other researchers that have the equipment that they potentially could use,” said McCorquodale. “It can put the business industry in contact with researchers that have equipment and the expertise.”

The Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association already has its equipment and facilities in the database.

“One of their motivations is that they can be connected with researchers that have interest and questions that their interested in, including fish stocks, pollution in the lakes, water quality, and that sort of thing,” said McCorquodale.

Although the program is developed for Atlantic Canada, McCorquodale said the interest in the program is growing.

“We’re ahead of the curve as we’re now getting interest from national organizations (in Canada) saying it’s a pretty good model, can we work with you to go national,” he said. “We would have to partner with someone, if they we were going to expand beyond the Atlantic region.”

McCorquodale said the organization feels the database is a service to the public.

“We think it’s important to facilitate research in Atlantic Canada,” he said. “We also think it’s a way to facilitate interaction between industry and the universities of Atlantic Canada.”

The federal government is also showing its support for the program.

Funding for the project was made possible through a non-repayable contribution of $181,897 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency Business Development Program. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has also supported the program, providing $16,850, for total funding of $198,747. Springboard Atlantic also made a contribution.

McCorquodale said the next step for the program is to promote it and have scientists and industry get use to the idea of looking at the database.

The database can be found at www.afred.ca. For more information about the database, contact Patty King by email at patty@scienceatlantic.ca or McCorquodale at david_mccorquodale@cbu.ca.


Also featuring an article about AFRED is The Gazette (Memorial University): Networking tool- New database matches researchers and equipment in Atlantic Canada