by David Baxter
Innovation Saskatchewan will receive a whopping 163 percent budget increase this year. Currently the estimated funding sits at $3,467,000, up from $1,318,000 in the 2010/11 budget.
“Innovation is a key driver for today’s economy in Saskatchewan, and most especially for tomorrow,” said Minister of Innovation Rob Norris, following the budget address. “When we start talking about innovation there’s still a lot of work to do and investments that are already being made in key areas of agriculture, and ag-biotechnology.
“We’ve made recent announcements regarding nuclear research; that pertains to research, that pertains to medicine, pertains to material sciences, and also safety and we all know how important that is. Today in the world there is a consensus growing that now is the time for more science in this area especially when it relates to safety,” said Norris. The minister was eager to talk about the potential nuclear future for Saskatchewan, especially the role of the synchrotron at the University of Saskatchewan and its potential in the manufacturing of medical isotopes.
This funding increase comes in the wake a forecasted spending of $9,818,000 on Innovation Saskatchewan over the past year. The final figures should be released around June.
Innovation Saskatchewan is responsible for leading Saskatchewan’s innovation priorities in science and technology. Innovation Saskatchewan also provides advice on science and technology policy, research, development, demonstration, and commercialization of new sciences and technology in the province.
Another major area of note is $6.1 million dollars going toward the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina for science and technology research. It is still yet to be decided how this money will be divided. Cam Broten, MLA for Saskatoon Massey Place, was vocal on the subject of the allocation of this money.
“What we will call for as the opposition is fairness for Saskatchewan’s post-secondary institutions. As we get into the numbers more we’ll see what the breakdown is, but I am aware of the sentiment from the University of Regina that sometimes fair share isn’t given, and I’m more then happy to advocate on all post-secondary institutions behalf to insure they’re all treated fairly,” said Broten.
Despite Broten’s statement concerning the distribution of funds, some people from the U of R are very excited about the innovation budget.
“It looks like a really superior innovation and research budget. They’re in $100 million, and that’s fantastic. I noticed that it’s a wonderful balance between research I would consider utilitarian applied type research and some pure and fundamental pieces,” said Rod Kelln, the acting vice president of research and dean of grad studies and research at the University of Regina. The $100 million is being spread among various innovation agencies including Innovation Saskatchewan, the universities, and the Saskatchewan Research Council.
Above: Rob Norris talks to the media.
Photo by Deborah Shawcross