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Working Together For Atlantic Growth

Three university presidents and one vice-president research, from schools spanning all four Atlantic Provinces, made the trek to Ottawa this week to talk about each other.

Well, not just to talk about each other; their main purpose was to connect with MPs and Senators from Atlantic Canada to discuss the important role universities have to play in the region’s economy.

But it was noteworthy how much each speaker’s remarks at Monday evening’s reception focused on their colleagues’ institutions.

Memorial President Gary Kachanoski noted UPEI’s Climate Change Research Lab and the work of Dal battery researcher (and recent Herzberg Gold Medal recipient) Jeff Dahn. UPEI President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz paid tribute to notable alumni from the region like Frank McKenna (UNB), General Rick Hillier (MUN) and Nobel Prize-winner Art McDonald (Dal). UNB Vice-President Research David Burns highlighted spin-out success stories like Memorial’s SucSeed hydroponic system and Spring Loaded, developed by Dal alumni.

And in discussing the new Ocean Frontier Institute— built on a partnership between Dalhousie, Memorial and UPEI — Dal President Richard Florizone highlighted how collaboration between Atlantic Canada’s universities is key to the region’s future.

“We are joining forces with each other, and with our partners in private industry, in government and in the community, to be the catalysts our region’s economy needs to grow and create a clean, inclusive and prosperous future,” he said.

Universities: An integral partner
Among the attendees were Dal alumni the Honourable Geoff Regan (Speaker of the House), the Honourable Scott Brison (President of the Treasury Board), the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) and Andy Fillmore (MP for Halifax). The event was an opportunity for them and other government representatives from the region to hear about some of the latest news and developments from the four universities and to discuss how research-intensive universities are central to Atlantic Canada’s success.

“Universities are integral in helping shift our economies from being based primarily on volatile natural resources and commodities, to much more resilient and stable knowledge-based economies that build upon our abundant natural resources,” said Memorial’s Dr. Kachanoski.

“Our four institutions are Atlantic Canada’s largest producers and attractors of talent, from every industry and sector you can imagine, and maybe a few you can’t,” said UNB’s David Burns, adding that, “together, UPEI, MUN, Dal and UNB will continue to shape the region through innovation, creativity and collaboration.”

Transforming Atlantic Canada together
Bernadette Jordan, chair of the Atlantic Caucus, and MP for the Nova Scotia riding of South Shore—Saint Margaret’s, served as master of ceremonies for the reception. It was kicked off by a poetry recitation of sorts from MPs Fillmore, Matt De Courcey (New Brunswick), Nick Whalen (Newfoundland and Labrador) and Sean Casey (Prince Edward Island) — members of the Innovation Committee of the Atlantic Growth Strategy, each celebrating university research from their own province.

Fillmore also paid tribute to the region’s universities in the House of Commons earlier on Monday, noting that “these four Atlantic universities are putting our region on the leading edge of innovation. Working together in close partnership with the federal government, these universities are transforming our shared challenges into shared opportunities.”

It was a message of collaboration that came through loud and clear at the reception itself.

“Working together is the way forward,” said UPEI’s Dr. Abd-El-Aziz. “Together, we can transform our region.”