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KPU’s Applied Genomics Centre receives $1 million from British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund

KPU’s Applied Genomics Centre receives $1 million from British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund

Tue, Sep 20, 2022
Dr. Joon Lee and iScan machine

Researchers and students in Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Applied Genomics Centre will be able to support more agricultural innovation than ever before thanks to a $1 million funding boost.

The funding from the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) is the final piece of co-funding for the approximately $6.5 million project called Genomics and Metabolomic Solutions for BC Agriculture.

“B.C. is proud to invest in new technology that helps strengthen our agriculture sector, improves food security and provides new research jobs,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We are increasing our competitive advantage and securing B.C.’s position as a global leader in the industry by supporting the expansion of the Applied Genomics Centre at KPU to allow more world-class researchers to collaborate and work with industry partners. As part of StrongerBC Economic Plan, we are committed to investing in the tools needed to ensure better, safer food, clean growth and a sustainable, innovative economy.”

Led by Dr. Paul Adams, a biology faculty member, the Applied Genomics Centre (AGC) at KPU’s Surrey Campus had already landed $3 million in funding in 2021; $2 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Innovation Enhancement grant (NSERC IE) and $1 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) College Industry Innovation Fund (CIIF)

“These co-funds from BCKDF will enable the AGC to double the amount of equipment in the lab,” says Dr. Adams. “The new equipment will support the many new research jobs in our lab for faculty, staff and students, and support more than double the number of research projects under the Genomics and Metabolomic Solutions for BC Agriculture project over the next five years.”

One piece of equipment in particular which Dr. Adams and the Applied Genomics Centre will receive is an iScan array system, a piece of DNA analysis technology used for genotyping and other applications.

“Nobody else in Western Canada has an iScan focused on agricultural genomics,” adds Dr. Adams. “This unique type of equipment opens new applied research opportunities for KPU and our partners in B.C.”

The Applied Genomics Centre is focused on agricultural innovation. Faculty and students engage in a broad range of applied research projects, from working with dairy cows and horses, all the way to trying to improve sustainable crop production and breeding new varieties of hops, and more.

“All projects are led by myself or other faculty members, and every project has at least one KPU student working at an industry partner site, or in the AGC laboratories, getting hands-on training in applied research and genomics,” adds Dr. Adams.

“Our strategy to working with industry partners is to first approach them and ask ‘what's an issue you have in your specific field?’, listen to what they have to say, and then work side-by-side with them to develop innovative solutions for their identified problem, using the expertise, skills and infrastructure within the AGC.”

Dr. Deepak S. Gupta, associate vice president for Research, Innovation, and Graduate Studies at KPU, says the university is very grateful to the province for the funding.

“This invaluable provincial funding will ensure the KPU continues to fulfil its mandated commitments to support a future-ready workforce and post-secondary system, increasing access to post-secondary education and skills training and eventually high opportunity jobs for graduating students,” he adds.

Harry Bains, Minister of Labour and Surrey-Newton MLA, says the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund has been the most critical piece of research infrastructure in the province since 1998.

“The BCKDF continues to help institutions in attracting researchers, skilled technicians and research users,” he adds. “With the success of this fund over the decades, we are proud to be moving forward with granting more institutions this funding in the near future."