Federal Treasury Board president Scott Brison announced a seven-year $93.7 million funding commitment at the Steele Ocean Sciences Building this morning in Halifax, made through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), to launch the Ocean Frontier Institute, to be led by Dalhousie University, in partnership with Memorial University in St. John’s and the University of Prince Edward Island.
Created to lead ocean research activities while developing a strategic approach to preserving ocean resources, the Ocean Frontier Institute has also attracted a $125 million investment from provincial governments and other partners, including a $25 million gift from Clearwater Seafoods and Columbus Communications co-founder John Risley, bringing the Institute’s total funding to $220 million, instantly making it a world leader in scientific ocean research, focusing primarily on the Northwest Atlantic and Canadian Arctic gateway.
Risley’s funding commitment had been dangled since April as a $25 million gift, pending matching government funding, from an “anonymous investor” whose identity was revealed this morning, adding a little suspense to an otherwise routine government announcement.
“I am simply thrilled to be a part of this initiative,” said Risley. “I have nothing but praise for Martha Crago, Vice-President of Research at Dalhousie and the whole Dal team, they are heroes for getting us this far. We also owe huge thanks to Minister Brison for convincing his cabinet colleagues this project was worthy of such generous Federal support. It is enormously important the community appreciate the extent to which the Institute has and will bring together so many partners across the Atlantic Canadian scene. I have every confidence the OFI can become an engine for regional economic growth and firmly establish us as global leaders in ocean science.”
The OFI will also receive support from its partners in the Government of Canada’s federal laboratories, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the National Film Board of Canada, industry partners both local and international, as well as share knowledge with eight major international ocean research institutes, including four of the top five in the world.
“Today’s investment ensures Canadian institutions, experts and researchers are able to compete and excel globally,” said Brison. “The projects funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, including the Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier, will transform the post-secondary research conducted on several of our Atlantic campuses and pave the way for exciting new discoveries.”
The OFI will become a global hub for ocean science, bringing together researchers and institutes from around the world to help better understand our oceans and create sustainable models for ocean development.
“OFI will produce ocean leaders who understand fundamentally how ocean science, technology, data, and governance all must work together to support thriving coastal economies and healthy coastal ecosystems,” said professor of Oceanography at Dalhousie Paul Hill.
In collaboration with international partners, OFI will establish an international postdoctoral program, and establish bilateral doctoral programs with OFI partner institutions and industry.
The Ocean Frontier Education and Training Program will provide PhD and postdoctoral training opportunities for researchers and access to world-class research tools and industries.
The Ocean Frontier Visiting Fellows Program will promote collaboration with partner institutions for conducting research on major OFI projects and developing new ocean initiatives and policy.
Finally, the Ocean School will be a new initiative between Dalhousie and partner the National Film Board of Canada, aimed at youth aged 11-15 to improve ocean literacy and engagement with science.