UBC, UNB receive funding from feds, Bell for innovation programming

Image of University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus
Image of University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus

The Government of Canada and Bell each recently announced planned investments in cleantech and cybersecurity development totalling $3.1 million at two Canadian universities.

Through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), the federal government is investing $1.9 million to fund the creation of a cleantech innovation hub at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Okanagan campus. Across the country, telecom giant Bell is investing $1.2 million to support a comprehensive cybersecurity education program offered through the University of New Brunswick (UNB).

The projects seek to address the climate crisis and shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers.

The two new tech-driven projects seek to help address two pressing problems: the climate crisis and Canada’s shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers.

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development responsible for WD, said the new UBC-based cleantech hub will help support “a sustainable future and a thriving economy.”

The hub aims to promote technology that converts carbon-based additives and components into new, sustainable products. The federal government claims it will create up to 50 jobs.

“Our engineering researchers have established cutting-edge procedures for recovering and reusing carbon-based materials that would otherwise be discarded and creation of this new hub will allow us to accelerate work in this area, scale our partnerships with industry, and create technical training opportunities that will accelerate transition to a greener economy,” said Phil Barker, UBC Okanagan’s associate VP of research and innovation.

The new UBC hub will be located in the university’s Innovation Precinct, and is scheduled to open its first building this fall.

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On the east coast, Bell plans to support cybersecurity education with an initial $1.2 million commitment over three years. The new Bell Research Intensive Cyber Knowledge Studies (BRICKS) program, which is based out of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick, aims to grow Atlantic Canada’s cyber talent pool by connecting students to companies operating in the region.

“We look forward to working with our partners at UNB to support the next generation of Canadian cybersecurity talent and welcoming them to the Bell team,” said Glen LeBlanc, Bell’s Vice Chair Atlantic.

Through BRICKS, participating students receive a Masters of Applied Cybersecurity, scholarship funding, a four-month research internship, and a full-time job offer.

In August 2019, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Government of Canada announced $997,000 over three to support the program via curriculum development, industry-specific training, experiential learning opportunities and program management.

“Growing the talent pool is a key component of Atlantic Canada becoming a cybersecurity hub,” said TechImpact CEO Cathy Simpson. “TechImpact is thrilled to be partnering on this exciting pilot project that supports students and industry alike with a focus on developing our much-needed talent pipeline.”

Image courtesy of the University of British Columbia

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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