Institutional announcements

The stories that shaped our 2023

December 19, 2023

The past year was an exciting one for Simon Fraser University, one that saw the university engage in global challenges through academic and research excellence, while taking solid steps toward reconciliation and transforming the SFU experience for our students, faculty and staff.

Now, as exams wrap up and the year winds to a close, it’s our opportunity to reflect on the past year and look back on some of the stories that shaped 2023 for SFU.

Simon Fraser University was named the top comprehensive university in Canada in 2023, marking the 15th time in the past 16 years that the university has held the title.

The annual rankings gave SFU top marks for its student services and awards, library resources and operating budget, while also noting its excellent student/faculty ratio, faculty awards, student grants, and reputation.

In 2023, SFU was also ranked No. 1 in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for sustainable cities and communities and was named one of Canada’s top universities for innovation, according to the World University Rankings for Innovation.

In May, SFU celebrated the opening of the new Courtyard Residence at Burnaby campus.

The striking, two-building residence provides students with modern rooms, a house lounge and kitchen, 24/7 front desk support, laundry and multi-functional spaces – not to mention some of the best views in the Lower Mainland. Built around a central courtyard, the new residence provides 369 primarily single-occupancy rooms for first-year students.

This affordable student housing on campus helps decrease pressure on the local red-hot rental housing market, while enriching the university experience for SFU students.

An artists' rendering of the future First Peoples' Gathering House at SFU's Burnaby campus.

This past year saw SFU break ground on the First Peoples’ Gathering House, a safe and welcoming space to celebrate Indigenous knowledge and culture.

Located on Burnaby Mountain on the traditional unceded territories of the: xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) nations, the Gathering House represents SFU’s ongoing commitment to Truth and Reconciliation as outlined in the Walk This Path With Us report. Once complete, the Gathering House will act as a cultural hub for current and future generations at SFU.

In November, SFU welcomed new professors Darren Grant, Thomas Jennewein, and Nicholas Reo as Canada Excellence Research Chairs. These researchers are the first CERCs for the university and will receive a total of $16M over eight years.

SFU research excellence was recognized with three new Canada Excellence Research Chairs, a first for the university.

The Canada Excellence Research Chairs are among the most prestigious and well-funded research positions available globally and support renowned researchers who establish ambitious research programs that tackle global challenges.

At SFU, the three new faculty will receive a combined total of $16 million over eight years and will work to advance leadership in quantum and astroparticle physics as well as Indigenous-focused coastal regeneration.

Overall, it was a busy year for academic recognition for SFU with a 3M National Teaching Award and three scholars named to the Royal Society of Canada. Five SFU researchers were also awarded or were renewed as Canada Research Chairs.

SFU physics professor Stephanie Simmons' company Photonic Inc. raised $100 million in 2023.

SFU physics professor Stephanie Simmons’ dream of a quantum internet edged closer to becoming a reality in 2023 as her company raised $100 million in funding and forged a strategic collaboration with Microsoft.

Photonic Inc., where Simmons serves as Chief Quantum Officer, raised the funding from a number of organizations, including B.C. Investment Management Corporation and Microsoft. In 2023, Simmons, a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair of Quantum Nanoelectronics, was named co-chair of Canada’s National Quantum Strategy Advisory Board.

An artist's rendering of the future Marianne and Edward Gibson Art Museum at SFU's Burnaby campus.

In August, construction began on the Marianne and Edward Gibson Art Museum, the Lower Mainland’s newest art museum.

The stunning 12,000 square-foot space will help transform the cultural landscape at Burnaby campus and enrich the SFU experience for students, faculty and staff. When complete in 2025, the art museum will offer free exhibits and programing and create a vibrant community hub for art lovers. The architects behind the museum’s design won a prestigious Canadian Architect Award of Merit for their design.  

SFU professor emeritus of physics Michael Hayden, a member of the ALPHA collaboration that successfully completed the first direct measurement of gravity’s effect on the motion of antimatter.

Physicists at Simon Fraser University were among the research team that successfully made the first direct measurement of gravity’s effect on the motion of antimatter. The discovery is a tremendous scientific and technical achievement and marks a leap forward in antimatter research.

The discovery by the team, which included researchers from UBC, BCIT, TRIUMF, York and the University of Calgary, was named one of the Top 10 breakthroughs of 2023 by Physics World.

The SFU-led Centre for Agritech Innovation invested $540,000 in four local agricultural companies to increase food security in B.C.

The SFU-led B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation announced its first four partnerships with B.C. businesses to develop solutions to ensure the province’s food systems remain secure, resilient and sustainable.

A total of $540,000 was invested in four Metro Vancouver agricultural companies by the Centre, which is located at SFU’s Surrey campus and funded through the provincial and federal governments. In the same year, BCCAI announced a major partnership with the world’s top agriculture university, Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands.

The next-generation exoskeleton technology developed by SFU researchers will offer people living with mobility challenges a chance at free and independent movement.

The state-of-the-art robotic exoskeleton known as XoMotion is the result of a decade of research and the product of an SFU spin-off company, Human in Motion Robotics (HMR) Inc.

The company has garnered millions in investment, an overseas partnership and a suite of new offices in Vancouver. It is a tremendous example of SFU innovation in action.

SFU’s future medical school continued to build momentum in 2023 including submitting the draft business case to the province and attaining applicant status with the Committee on Accreditation of Medical Schools.

With healthcare systems across the country facing novel and unprecedented challenges, the SFU Medical School aims to do medical education differently. This past year saw the appointment of an acting dean and an associate dean of Indigenous health as well as the proposal for a place-based curriculum model, with students studying in communities as soon as their first year.