CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 16, 2007) - The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) today officially opened the NRC Institute for Nutrisciences and Health (NRC-INH) in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The $13.5 million state-of-the-art facility creates a dynamic research and commercialization hub for the province's emerging bioresources sector. Here, NRC scientists will work with their counterparts from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and researchers from the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) to see how compounds found in nature can be used to tackle critical health problems such as infection and immunity-related issues, neurological problems such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis, and complications related to obesity.
"This project corresponds to Canada's New Government's new economic plan, Advantage Canada, and solidifies our commitment to support research excellence," noted the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, on behalf of the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for NRC. "Today, we are not only unveiling a new building, we are celebrating an innovative approach to addressing health issues. Collaborative research carried out at this facility will translate into health benefits for all Canadians."
Researchers at the Institute will also be working with their private-industry counterparts to help turn PEI's expertise in bioresources into marketable products for disease prevention and therapy - positioning Canada to further capitalize on a global nutrition market valued at more than $182 billion annually.
Nutrisciences, a field of research focusing on the health benefits of renewable and naturally occurring land and marine-based resources (bioresources), is a fast-growing global industry. Growth in PEI's bioresources cluster has been impressive. The province is home to more than six major research organizations and to a host of private-sector companies with expertise in life sciences.
The NRC-INH, located on UPEI's campus, features open-concept labs and offices where 60 scientists, technical staff, and students share space, resources, and ideas. By 2008, the number of scientists is expected to rise to at least 100. This facility will enable nutriscience companies in the early stages of research to work in the facility's "incubator labs" to benefit from the equipment and collaborative expertise offered on site.
NRC President Dr. Pierre Coulombe noted that NRC facilities maximize the benefits of collaboration and commercialization, producing the most value for Canada. "This new facility helps address one of Canada's key priorities - health and wellness. Here, scientists will come together to undertake cutting-edge research, working closely with industry to ensure that opportunities for economic benefits are maximized, not only for this community, but for the whole country."
The NRC-INH was established through a cooperative funding arrangement between NRC, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Province of Prince Edward Island, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the University of Prince Edward Island.
"Canada's New Government is committed to research that will benefit the nutrition and health of people and animals. The work of our scientists will support the growing functional food and nutraceutical sector and create new opportunities for agriculture and agri-food producers," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board.
"The Government of Prince Edward Island is pleased to be involved in this successful partnership with the federal government and UPEI," said the Honourable Pat Binns, Premier of Prince Edward Island. "It's one thing to talk about innovative ideas for our province's future prosperity, but it's another thing to stand here today and see the hub of activity taking place as a result of this partnership. NRC and partners are helping to create jobs and wealth for our province, and our growing biosciences cluster will only continue to flourish as we move forward."
UPEI President Wade MacLauchlan remarked that the Nutrisciences and Health research facility builds on existing research strengths at the university and in the broader PEI biosciences cluster. "This whole initiative represents a spectacular bringing together of talent, facilities, and special collaborations to address health issues of national and international importance."
Recognized globally for research and innovation, Canada's National Research Council is a leader in developing an innovative, knowledge-based economy for Canada through science and technology.