Seven Research Projects Receive $1M - Telegraph Journal - NBIF - FINB

Seven Research Projects Receive $1M - Telegraph Journal

By Ethan Lou, Telegraph Journal | link to original article (subscribers only)

Seven research projects in the province were given a boost on Thursday, with $1 million to hire new technicians under the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation's Research Technicians Initiative.

NBIF chairman Robert Hatheway said the applied researchers work on things with incredible "commercial potential," but are often bogged down with other commitments.

"Researchers always have several projects underway, not to mention a teaching load,"he said. "The RTI helps them hire other researchers so they can commercialize their innovations faster." Funds from the RTI are awarded in partnership with the Department of Post-Secondary Education,Training and Labour.

NBIF covers half of the amount, with the rest matched by each research organization.

The funding covers three years' worth of salary and benefits for seven research technicians, who are often scientists and engineers who hold PhDs.

For Mount Allison University researchers Khashayar Ghandi and Felix Baerlocher, who received $150,000, the extra pair of hands could not have come at a better time.

Ghandi and Baerlocher are developing a heat-resistant, non-toxic liquid plastic that conducts electricity, a product that can only reach the market with the help of a research technician.

Ghandi said production of the plastic is currently on the scale of a few grams - not nearly enough.

"We need to go to a kilogram scale to make a prototype so that it can be tested," said Ghandi, adding that a research technician will be vital to ramping up production.

Ghandi said with the aid of the new technician, up to 1,000 kilograms of the product can be expected to reach the market by 2015.

Other fund recipients include Yun Zhang of the University of New Brunswick, who is developing technology for high-resolution 3D images and maps, and Luc Tremblay of l'Université de Moncton, who is determining how organic matter naturally turns into fossil fuel. They received $140,000 each.

PETL Minister Danny Soucy said the provincial government is pleased to partner with NBIF, adding that the funded projects are crucial to improving the New Brunswick economy.

"When instructors have the resources to do leading-edge research," he said,"what they learn finds its way into their classrooms and labs and impacts the way students look at economic opportunities." NBIF is an independent not-profit that seeks funding opportunities for startups and research projects.

Since 2003, the RTI has awarded $25.5 million to research institutions, creating 67 new positions and unlocking $21 million more from recipient institutions, national granting councils and private firms.