Canada (Simon Fraser University) New research centre for clean tech, big data to grow capacity with PacifiCan funding

A new research centre to advance clean technologies and support their commercialization will be established at Simon Fraser University’s 4D LABS, with more than $2 million in funding from the federal government’s Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan).

The Centre for Environmental and Food Analysis (CEFA), which will support clean technologies late-stage testing, will also help municipalities and Indigenous communities to adopt green technologies. The funds will also provide 4D LABS, SFU’s core facility for advanced materials research and development, with new equipment and facility upgrades.

Additional PacifiCan funding of nearly $600,000 will also support SFU’s core facility, the Big Data Hub, and increase the capacity of the university’s Supercomputer Cedar, including 12 high-performance computers for its computing lab. It will also help to create an online consulting space to facilitate in-person and remote data-related consulting services, and hire staff to support industry engagement efforts—helping to support small- and medium-sized B.C. businesses to increase productivity and stay competitive.

Dugan O’Neil, SFU’s vice-president, research and international, says the university is grateful for the generous support of 4D LABS and the Big Data Hub.

“The new Centre for Environmental and Food Analysis will train researchers with valuable skills for the agritech, clean tech and clean resources sectors, while expansion of our big data capacities will serve the growing Canadian research community. We are excited to further collaborations and make advancements in these innovative fields where SFU and Canada have demonstrated leadership.”

Nathanael Sieb, director of operations and administration at 4D LABS, says the new centre and acquisition of cutting-edge equipment will further the facility’s role in transforming research into world-class companies. New equipment that the funding will help to secure includes an environmental electron microscope, X-ray characterization equipment and a particle size analyzer.

The funding was announced at SFU by the Hon. Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for Pacifican, where he also highlighted the government’s plans to invest in tax credits for clean technologies and clean hydrogen that will help create jobs and make Canada a leader in the net-zero transition, and share the government’s plan to permanently eliminate interest on federal student and apprentice loans.

“Universities, like Simon Fraser University, are often the birthplace of ideas, such as innovations that leverage the power of clean technology,” said Minister Sajjan, following a tour of 4D LABS. “The Government’s support for the Centre for Environmental and Food Analysis (CEFA) will support the local clean technology ecosystem and help municipalities and Indigenous communities adopt green technologies.”

Terry Beech, MP for North Burnaby Seymour and an SFU alumnus, joined the minister for the announcement.

“Today’s investment in local innovation and research will have a profound and lasting effect on the future of Canada,” he said. “Supporting environmentally friendly initiatives will build our economy while creating high-skilled, well-paying jobs. The government is committed to making Canada a world leader in sustainable innovation, science and technology.”

PacifiCan’s SFU research investment of more than $2.6 million is made through its Regional Innovation Ecosystem program, which aims to grow and nurture priority sectors across B.C. by building an inclusive ecosystem that allows those sectors to innovate and compete globally. PacifiCan promotes growth and diversification in B.C.’s economy by enhancing innovation, improving business competitiveness, and promoting inclusive growth.