Ag Research Moved To New “Innovation” Agency

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Agriculture, biotech and BSE research in Alberta will all operate through one of four new provincial corporations as part of the province’s “Alberta Innovates” support structure for scientific research.

“A stronger, more coordinated system will bring new opportunities to Alberta researchers and entrepreneurs,” Premier Ed Stelmach said in a release.

Alberta Innovates officially launched Jan. 1 as the province’s new Research and Innovation Act and regulation came into force, realigning what were previously 10 provincially funded research organizations.

The new structure stems from Stelmach’s proposal in March 2008 for a new framework, to be developed by provincial Technology Minister Doug Horner, defining the roles and mandates for Alberta’s provincially funded research and innovation organizations.

Staff from the former Alberta Agricultural Research Institute, Alberta Forestry Research Institute, Alberta Life Sciences Institute and Alberta Prion Research Institute will now operate under the direction of a new agency, Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions.

Art Froehlich, a partner and strategic advisor in Calgary-based ag communications and marketing agency AdFarm, will chair the new biosolutions agency’s board.

“Why do agriculture, forestry and food/health come under one umbrella?” Froehlich wrote on the Alberta Innovates website. “It’s because they all draw upon biological resources that offer untapped potential for an astounding array of new high-value products.”

The new structure also sets up Alberta Innovates –Energy and Environment, including staff from the former Alberta Energy Research Institute and Alberta Water Research Institute and chaired by Eric Newell, chancellor emeritus of the University of Alberta.

The structure also includes Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures and a new “international advisory board” dubbed the Alberta Research and Innovation Authority, retooled from the former Alberta Science and Research Authority.

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