News Archives: $3.4 Million to Develop Innovation in Peace Country
Thursday, April 24th, 2008
The Rural Alberta Development Fund announcement today of $3.4 Million support for inventors and innovators in the Peace Region is exciting news for the Centre for Research and Innovation at Grande Prairie Regional College.
"Innovation is not just a buzz word - it is what we do!" says Dr. Scott McAlpine. "The people of the Peace Country have always been innovators - by necessity, by heredity, by our history. This funding will help the CRI make the Peace Country the best place in Canada to be an inventor or an innovator." McAlpine represents GPRC on the management staff of the Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI), which is a collaborative partnership of the College and Peace Region Economic Development Alliance (PREDA.)
Rural Alberta's Development Fund is a not-for-profit company incorporated in 2006, fulfilling a commitment by the Government of Alberta to support groups, organizations and communities that care about growing rural Alberta. The Fund's Board of Directors encourage new or innovative projects that are community-supported, collaborative, and will have a positive, sustained impact on rural Alberta. In the funding announcement released today, monies were identified for the CRI and four other projects: the Rural Information Services Initiative ($3.7 Million), Alberta 4-H Development ($960,000), Applied Research and Rural Health ($565,700) and the Vauxhall Baseball Academy ($1.5 Million.)
McAlpine submitted a proposal to RADF outlining a five-year action plan which will develop and facilitate innovation and support the process from idea to commercialization. The funding will provide approximately 70% of operating costs for CRI through to October 2011, with the remaining funding being sought from federal and provincial programs, clients and industry.
"The CRI is not yet another business incubator," McAlpine points out, "but is designed to develop in-region capacity for the necessary research, development, and marketing to take innovation from idea to reality. Without innovation there is no progress!"
Jack O'Toole, Chair of PREDA agrees. "Innovation is a value-added component of our economy, and is becoming increasingly important if under-recognized economic advantage for our region. This funding will enable the CRI to not only support innovation but to build a culture of innovation."
Not all innovation is technical, and not all innovation results in a visible "product." The role of CRI will include developing a "culture of innovation" in our region which recognizes innovation in delivery or in process as well as in product.
"This funding enhances the great opportunity provided by our partnership in CRI," says Don Gnatiuk, President and CEO of Grande Prairie Regional College. "Our faculty will have expanded opportunities to be involved in applied research, and our students will be inspired by the evidence of knowledge-based economy in our region. I applaud the efforts of the CRI Team, and in particular recognize Jack O'Toole, Bob Hall and Dr. Scott McAlpine for their contributions."
The Centre for Research and Innovation was officially opened on-campus at Grande Prairie Regional College in March 2007. It was created as a result of a merger between GPRC's Integrated Research Unit and PREDA's The Innovation Network. The goal of the merger, and the partnership between GPRC and PREDA, is to provide more accessible innovation services to entrepreneurs and businesses in northwestern Alberta by creating and enhancing business products and services.