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This article was published 20/1/2015 (2137 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE federal government is putting up $2.4 million for the creation of an internationally accredited analytical centre in environmental monitoring and remediation services at the University of Manitoba.
The funding will go towards establishing the Centre for Oil and Gas Research and Development (COGRaD). It will further advance research that has been happening in the chemistry department at the U of M for close to 10 years in the monitoring and analysis of environmental contaminants.
The funding is coming through the department of Western Economic Diversification. It will be used to purchase specialized equipment that will allow COGRaD to collaborate with private industry on research and development, test samples from the environment, and develop tools and techniques to assist oil and gas companies to meet existing environmental monitoring and remediation challenges.
Already, U of M researchers Gregg Tomy and Jörg Stetefeld are working with equipment that is not found anywhere else in Canada.
"It was built on their existing strength and analytic capabilities," said Digvir Jayas, the U of M's vice-president (research and international) and distinguished professor. "We're very happy about this funding. It gives them the edge to move it one step further."
The federal funding called for collaboration with the private sector, and the U of M researchers have had a long-standing partnership with the industry.
Western Economic Diversification Minister of State Michelle Rempel, a former staff member at the U of M's Technology Transfer Office, said it is a great example of increasing collaboration at the university.
"We want to ensure sustainability and true economic growth," Rempel said of the objective of the funding. "In this case, the U of M is coming to a project where they can take a depth of expertise in a basic research sector, then come to a partnership with industry to deliver services which both have commercialized products and also graduate student training opportunities. That is a really neat story for the University of Manitoba."
The engineering firm Stantec Inc. is currently partnering with Tomy and Stetefeld on a couple of research projects and has relationships with other U of M researchers.
Vince Palace, Stantec's national technical leader for freshwater and an adjunct professor at the U of M, said Stantec supports the creation of the COGRaD because of the kind of analytic capabilities they are developing.
Stantec does environmental monitoring for oil and gas companies, where there are stringent regulations around contaminant discharge.
"It is about getting community involvement and community buy-in to acknowledge that we know there are potential impacts, and we are concerned with that," Palace said. "These guys have the analytic capabilities to allow us to go beyond what the regulations require."
For instance, equipment is being developed that will allow trace contaminants to be fingerprinted so their source can be identified.
"This centre will establish the University of Manitoba in a new field of research and development that is an institutional priority: environmental sustainability," said Jayas.
It also strengthens the ties between university researchers and the private sector.
It is an example of the U of M partnering with industry to develop new analytical tools and techniques that will result in employment opportunities and the transfer of new technologies.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.