Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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Engaging Research: What’s Next?

May 25, 2017

At SFU, our research endeavours encompass an impressive spectrum – whether it’s curiosity driven research on dark matter in a science lab on Burnaby Mountain, community-based research on social housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, or applied research on health technologies in Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard.

Our Vision as Canada’s “engaged university” challenges SFU to be “a world leader in knowledge mobilization building on a strong foundation of fundamental research.”

And thanks to our gifted faculty, talented students and dynamic community partners, SFU is leading the way in both the development and impact of our research enterprise.  

In the past five years, our research income has grown faster than any other comprehensive university in Canada, and now stands at nearly $120 million per year. Our faculty members’ research impact (measured by the number of times their work is cited by others) has also grown, placing us second in Canada in the most recent QS ranking.

In terms of research mobilization, the number of funded research projects involving external partners has grown over 25 percent in the past four years, and scholars across the university are involved in community-based research activities.

No wonder SFU scholars are so often asked to be commentators on issues and discoveries, and enjoy a daily presence in local and national news media.

SFU’s new Strategic Research Plan paired with SFU Innovates, our university-wide innovation strategy, lays a foundation to further mobilize our research capacity.

This is supported by a range of programs and resources to help researchers work with community partners to drive economic and social development.  These include: 4D LABS, our state-of-the-art material science lab which offers prototype development and materials testing; VentureLabs®, our internationally linked technology accelerator; and RADIUS, our social innovation lab and venture incubator. 

In addition, KEY, SFU's Big Data Initiative, and our new SFU Data Centre, with Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer, will add to our capacities in big data research.

Two recently announced chairs – the St. Paul's Hospital Chair in Substance Use Research and the Chair in Technology Innovations for Youth Addiction Recovery and Mental Health – will help to improve health outcomes in the Lower Mainland and beyond, while the Sustainable Energy Engineering Building being constructed at our Surrey campus will advance research and discovery in clean technologies and alternative energy systems.

A lot is happening – but we want to be even more engaged on the research front, and we welcome your ideas.

“Engaging the Vision: What’s Next?” consultations are well underway, and I invite you to go online and share your ideas on what more we need to do to fulfil our vision for engaging  research at SFU.

Photos (left to right): 4D Labs in Burnaby, VentureLabs® in Vancouver, Pain Studies Lab in Surrey