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BC’s Interior universities join forces to take research to a new level

FILE PHOTO - People walk past large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., on November 22, 2015.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Students at British Columbia’s three Interior universities will benefit from enhanced research opportunities and increased mobility, thanks to a newly signed agreement that will be a game changer for higher education in the region.

The Interior University Research Coalition (IURC), a memorandum of understanding between the University of Northern BC (UNBC), Thompson Rivers University (TRU), and the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBC Okanagan), is the product of more than two years of collaboration.

As partners, the three universities form a core of research and innovation talent in the BC Interior that will further develop the innovation ecosystem of the entire region, build and strengthen new and traditional industries, and enhance overall quality of life. The agreement will facilitate mobility and academic opportunities for students and faculty, enhance research partnerships and enable greater overall co-ordination among the institutions.

The IURC commits to the creation of a tri-university partnership office, whose mandate will be to explore new possibilities for talent development, facilitate research collaboration and co-ordinate joint funding proposals. The office will be headed by Janice Larson, an expert in strategic planning with more than 22 years of experience in public policy development and implementation.

“It’s great to see three of our universities collaborating to advance research and innovation opportunities,” says Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the post-secondary sector are critical to our 21stcentury economy. Research and innovation supports industry demands as well as improving the lives of citizens in the Interior, throughout our province and across the country.”

While each university contributes its own areas of expertise, co-ordination of efforts will enhance student access to equipment and mentorship across the partner institutions, help form clusters of expertise, and meet provincial and federal priorities, including fostering talent, training highly qualified personnel and driving innovation in the technology sector and all areas of the economy.

“Each of our institutions brings a unique set of research strengths that will ultimately lead to greater educational opportunities for graduate students in Central and Northern B.C. By working together we have the opportunity to apply innovative research solutions and ask meaningful questions about life in the 21st century,” says UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks.

“This agreement recognizes the mutual interests our institutions have in supporting research in the province. Graduate students and researchers bring ideas, questions and solutions and can bring real benefits to communities through their collaborations,” says TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Alan Shaver.

“Universities have a special role to play in partnership with the communities they serve. By collaborating more closely with our colleagues across the region, we can be drivers of discovery, understanding, and innovation for positive social and economic development,” says UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard.

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