Government of B.C. invests in vital research infrastructure


The largest BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) grant to SFU to date was announced at a provincial government event on March 29th at SFU’s Vancouver campus. The SFU-led Cyberinfrastructure: Compute Canada initiative received an $11.85-million grant from BCKDF as part of more than $13.9 million in newly announced research infrastructure grants to five SFU-led projects. This funding will leverage an equal amount from the federal government, enabling SFU to acquire facilities and equipment to support research in the areas of advanced computing, health and life sciences.

Emceed by Vancouver-False Creek MLA, Sam Sullivan, speakers included SFU President Andrew Petter, the Honourable Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, and SFU physics professor and Chief Science Officer of Compute Canada Dugan O’Neil.

“This BCKDF funding will enable our researchers to be even better equipped for big data research—an area in which SFU is already a national leader—and to be more productive in activating research to fight disease and improve health outcomes for British Columbians,” says Petter.

He expressed his appreciation to the Government of British Columbia for its investment in research infrastructure, calling it an investment in the province’s future.

Along with the Minister’s announcement, the event showcased some of the high-impact research that is facilitated by SFU’s computing facilities and expertise, including:

Also demonstrated were examples of how previous provincial investments in infrastructure at SFU’s 4D LABS advanced materials-research facility have contributed to technology and talent development and, through the SFU Innovates university-wide innovation strategy, to business development and job creation:

  • Research in nanotechnology for security applications that are being developed through student startup company IE-9;
  • A smart windows technology for automotive applications being commercialized through SFU spinout company Switch Materials Inc.

The record-breaking $11.85-million BCKDF grant will support the development of Compute Canada’s advanced research computing network, replacing an aging supercomputing system with a consolidated set of new systems specifically designed to meet Canadian and British Columbian research needs. Such visionary investments position SFU, British Columbia and Canada as leaders in secure, advanced computing research spanning the sciences and social sciences.

“With the support of CFI [the Canada Foundation for Innovation] and BCKDF, SFU and Compute Canada are building the biggest ‘Big Data’ facility in the country, while the University of Victoria and Compute Canada are building the biggest academic research cloud in the country,” says O’Neil.

“Having the experts who run these facilities based in B.C., developing world-leading expertise in advanced research computing is a win for the province.”

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