UBCO is one of three B.C. Interior universities that have signed a deal to work cooperatively when it comes to research.—Image: UBCO

‘Game changer” research deal between three B.C. Interior universities

UBCO, TRU, UNBC say deal will help innovation, research, aid students and increase quality of life

Officials with British Columbia’s three Interior universities, including UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, say students will benefit from enhanced research opportunities and increased mobility, thanks to a newly signed agreement dubbed a “game changer” for higher education in the region.

The Interior University Research Coalition, a memorandum of understanding between the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and the UBCO, is the product of more than two years of collaboration.

As partners, the three universities form a core of research and innovation talent in the BC Interior that they say will further develop innovation in the region, as well as build and strengthen new and traditional industries and enhance quality of life. The agreement will also facilitate mobility and academic opportunities for students and faculty, enhance research partnerships and encourage overall co-ordination among the three institutions.

“Universities have a special role to play in partnership with the communities they serve,” says UBC Okanagan deputy vice-chancellor and principal Deborah Buszard. “By collaborating more closely with our colleagues across the region, we can be drivers of discovery, understanding, and innovation for positive social and economic development,” .

The MOU commits to the creation of a tri-university partnership office, with a mandate to explore new possibilities for talent development, facilitate research collaboration and co-ordinate joint funding proposals. The office will be headed by Janice Larson, an expert in strategic planning with more than 22 years of experience in public policy development and implementation.

While each university has its own area of expertise, co-ordination of efforts will enhance student access to equipment and mentorship, help form clusters of expertise and meet provincial and federal priorities that include fostering talent, training highly qualified personnel and driving innovation in the technology sector and all areas of the economy.

“This agreement recognizes the mutual interests our institutions have in supporting research in the province,” said TRU president and vice-chancellor Alan Shaver. “Graduate students and researchers bring ideas, questions and solutions and can bring real benefits to communities through their collaborations,” .

UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks said each university brings a unique set of research strengths that will ultimately lead to greater educational opportunities for graduate students in Central and Northern B.C.

“By working together we have the opportunity to apply innovative research solutions and ask meaningful questions about life in the 21st century.”

B.C.’s advanced education minister, Melanie Mark, welcomed the agreement, saying research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the post-secondary sector are critical to the province’s 21st Century economy.

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