The Calgary-based Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has received a $30 million donation from David Bissett, a philanthropist and founder of a Calgary investment firm, Bissett and Associates.
“If we are not fully competitive in the global economy, we are doomed to be a nation falling behind.”
Bisset said the $30 million is intended to develop a new school and help better prepare students for the evolving world of tech. He explained that he made the donation so Canada can remain competitive in the global economy by keeping up with the complexities of rapidly emerging technologies.
“Whether it is investment management, oil and gas, or agriculture, the advances in technology are breathtaking,” Bissett said at a press conference.”If we are not fully competitive in the global economy, we are doomed to be a nation falling behind and will not be able to afford the standard of living and social services we have enjoyed.”
In 2014, Bissett donated $5 million to SAIT to help establish the Bissett Bursary Program, which provides full-tuition annually to high school graduates. This latest cash injection is the single largest philanthropic donation he has made to date.
“Oil and gas, agriculture, and every business you can think of in Alberta is moving ahead dramatically toward technological advancement,” Bissett told the Calgary Herald. “We have to educate kids to be ahead of the curve in this change in our industries.”
SAIT was founded in 1916 and serves about 50,000 students each year. The polytechnic institute offers more than 100 career programs in technology, trades, and business, and is one of Alberta’s top 50 employers.
“We are honoured David Bissett has chosen SAIT,” said SAIT president and CEO David Ross. “This significant contribution will enable SAIT to support our students and our industry partners to develop the mindset, adaptability, and knowledge to use and create technology and drive us forward.”
The philanthropic donation for the school comes as the province of Alberta is making signficant cuts to key drivers of the province’s innovation system. In October, Alberta reduced funding to artificial intelligence and Alberta Innovates (forcing the organization to lay off 125 employees), in addition to removing the Alberta Investor Tax Credit, which was meant to incentivize much-needed seed investment within the province.
Image courtesy SAIT via Twitter