Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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SFU’s research and innovation strengths showcased in Ottawa visit

May 14, 2018

Welcome to a new Summer semester at SFU! I hope everyone had a great first week of classes.

I’ve just returned from a busy week in which I led an SFU delegation to Ottawa for meetings with government, funding agencies, academic partners and SFU alumni.

The purpose of the visit was to acknowledge the federal government’s recent commitments to research and innovation, to show how these commitments will enable SFU to contribute to Canada’s social and economic future, and to explore further opportunities for SFU to secure federal support.  

For example, Ottawa’s investment of $45 million – matched by the Province of BC – has made possible the new state-of-the-art Sustainable Energy Engineering Building that is currently rising on our Surrey Campus. The building will be home to an innovative Sustainable Energy Engineering program – a first of its kind in Western Canada – that will add to the nation’s strengths in clean-tech and sustainable energy.

Federal funding has also enabled SFU, in collaboration with Compute Canada, to establish a new national data centre on Burnaby Mountain. The centre hosts Canada’s most powerful supercomputer, a major asset for university researchers and a powerful tool for using big data, an area in which SFU is becoming a national leader.

Most recently, the federal budget has committed $925 million in new monies for the granting councils over the next five years – the largest increase in research funding in Canadian history.

This funding will be of huge assistance to SFU’s faculty members who are already recognized as national leaders for their research impact.

And SFU is proud to have secured two of the 24 Canada 150 Research Chairs recently announced by Ottawa – applied mathematician Caroline Colijn and data visionary Wendy Chun – both of whom will join us this fall.

SFU will also be a partner in Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster – another important federal initiative to drive the development of an innovation economy.

In addition to targeted meetings with key government representatives, our Ottawa visit included a reception for MPs, public officials and SFU alumni and supporters, and a luncheon with staff from Universities Canada – the nation’s leading association for higher education, research and innovation.

At the reception, I gave an update on the considerable progress SFU has made as Canada’s Engaged University, and Vice-President Research and International Joy Johnson discussed the future for SFU’s research and innovation activities.

This is an exciting time for universities in Canada. And our visit to Ottawa confirmed that SFU, with our research strengths and innovative strategy, has huge capacity to contribute to this country’s economic prosperity and social well-being.