Olds College and Red Deer College are getting more than $1.1 million for new research projects designed to attract job creation and promote innovation.
The two central Alberta post-secondary institutions will perform “cutting-edge research” in areas such as 3D printing, clean energy technology and smart agriculture, says the provincial government.
It’s hoped this will eventually help Alberta companies use new methods to grow and expand.
Funding from the Research Capacity Program will help the post-secondary institutions get the equipment and research infrastructure that are needed to attract, retain and develop research teams, says the province.
Olds College is receiving almost $1 million for agricultural equipment, sensors, devices and computers for its Smart Agriculture Applied Research Program.
And almost $150,000 will go to Red Deer College for its Integration of Alternative Energy Lab – a teaching, research and data hub designed to increase financial and scientific knowledge and access to clean energy technologies.
“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,” said Doug Schweitzer, minister of jobs, economy and innovation.
“One of Alberta’s greatest strengths is our ability to tackle challenges through innovation. Growing these programs will make our province even more competitive.”
The goal is to help diversify the province’s economy by training Albertans with technical skills in new and emerging technologies.
“Olds College continues to lead in … smart ag technology while meeting the needs of producers right here in Alberta,” said Nathan Cooper, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills.
The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is also receiving $1 million to expand its applied research training programs.
The Alberta government anticipates this combined spending will attract almost $6 million in additional research funding to the province, including more than $2.7 million from the federal government.
“A key part of Alberta’s recovery plan is preparing our grads for jobs in the real world …. this announcement will help our post-secondary institutions ensure our students have the skills they need in a future economy,” said Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides.
But the Alberta NDP’s advanced education critic, David Eggen, said the cost-shared funding program has already existed for decades.
“This is not new money. This grant is less than one per cent of the cuts already made to Alberta’s institutions over 2019 and 2020 (and) will not replace the over 3,500 jobs lost this year alone.”
Eggen added that Alberta’s post-secondary institutions are key to the economic recovery of our province, “and the UCP are making our institutions fend for themselves,” resulting in higher tuition costs and “a diminished ability to support staff and students in their capacity to drive innovation and prosperity.”