Research gets $190-million boost from Province of Ontario
Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi came to the University of Toronto on January 20 with news that brightened up a cold day: the province is investing $190 million over the next six years to help attract and retain top researchers, develop innovative technologies, increase investment and create jobs.
The new funding will see $65 million going to the Ontario Research Fund’s Research Excellence program (ORF-RE) and $125 million to the Research Infrastructure (ORF-RI) program.
ORF-RE provides research institutions with funding to help support the operational costs of large-scale transformative research of strategic value to Ontario.
ORF-RI provides funding to help support infrastructure needs such as modern facilities and equipment.
“Research is the foundation of a knowledge economy – new findings lead to new technologies, companies and jobs,” Moridi told a large audience gathered in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy building. “Across the province, researchers and companies are improving competitiveness, launching new ground-breaking products and services and changing lives.”
One of those researchers is Professor Shana Kelley of Pharmacy and the Department of Biochemistry. She said that funding from the ORF-RI was instrumental in helping her and her team progress “from a great science project to a breakthrough product.”
Kelley’s research – focused on the detection of infectious diseases – enabled her to develop an automated diagnostic instrument that can test samples on demand and on the spot and that can be used easily by a variety of health care practitioners. In 2010 she was one of the founders of a start-up company, Xagenic, which now has 25 employees.
“The investment from the ORF-RI enabled us to achieve things that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible.”
Professor Paul Young, U of T’s vice-president (research and innovation) believes the new funding will be critical to enhance globally competitive research and innovation.
“Truly transformative research demands two essential qualities – talent and ingenuity. Both the ORF-RI and ORF-RE have already enabled hundreds of researchers – many of them at U of T – to make great progress on addressing challenges that face society. This new investment will open a vibrant new chapter in what we can do as researchers. We are deeply thankful to the Province of Ontario in making this funding available.”
Paul Fraumeni is a writer with the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto.