As part of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan, taxpayers are funding new research projects at several Alberta colleges that promote innovative investment in the energy and agriculture sectors.
As part of Alberta’s Research Capacity Program (RCP), the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Red Deer College and Olds College are receiving almost $2.1 million in grants.
The provincial government said the money will go towards helping the institutions perform “cutting-edge research” in areas such as 3D printing, clean energy technology and smart agriculture.
“This investment will help get Albertans back to work now and prepare our next generation for the jobs of tomorrow in manufacturing, energy and agriculture,” Schweitzer said.
“One of Alberta’s greatest strengths is our ability to tackle challenges through innovation. Growing these programs will make our province even more competitive as we turn ideas into reality, creating jobs and prosperity.”
Officials said the grants will also attract almost $6 million in additional research funding to the province, including more than $2.7 million from the federal government through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada.
Through the RCP grant, SAIT will receive $1 million to expand its applied research training programs.
“Funding like this, to diversify research and introduce new technology applications not only advances innovation, it attracts investment and in turn rebuilds our economy, ensuring graduates from our institutions get jobs and have rewarding careers,” SAIT’s president and CEO David Ross said.
Old College will receive almost $1 million in funding for its Smart Agriculture Applied Research Program to acquire more agricultural equipment, sensors, devices and computers.
Red Deer College will receive almost $150,000 for its Integrations of Alternative Energy Lab, a teaching, research and data hub designed to increase financial and scientific knowledge and access to clean energy technologies.
In response to Monday’s funding announcement, the NDP opposition critic for advanced education said these grants don’t do enough to make up for the cuts implemented by the provincial government.
“This is not new money. The grant is less than one per cent of the cuts already made to Alberta’s institutions over 2019 and 2020,” David Eggen said.
“This grant will not replace the over 3,500 jobs lost this year alone.
“Alberta’s post-secondary institutions are key to the economic recovery of our province, and the UCP are making our institutions fend for themselves. This will result in higher tuition costs and diminishes the ability of these institutions to support staff and students in their capacity to drive innovation and prosperity.”