UNB initiative fuels innovation, economic and social prosperity

Posted on September 01, 2021 | Sponsored Content | 0 Comments


Dr. Mohsen Mohammadi, Dr. David MaGee, and Dr. Alli Murugesan
Left to right: Dr. Mohsen Mohammadi, Dr. David MaGee, and Dr. Alli Murugesan


Discovery is the heart of UNB, New Brunswick’s leading research university, a place where innovation, industry and community beat as one to fuel economic prosperity and social growth now and into the future.

“We’re blessed with terrific research talent and capacities, but we’re also commercially and economically oriented,” says Dr. David MaGee, UNB’s Vice-President Research. “Our team understands that we can play an important role alongside our public and private partners and our communities in supporting a stronger, healthier and more innovative New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada.”

In fact, UNB’s research and research commercialization agenda links directly to the university’s overall strategic vision to be locally engaged and nationally relevant. “We create knowledge to tackle the great challenges of today and tomorrow,” Dr. MaGee says. “By being a vital strand of the quadruple helix of innovation, where industry, government, academia and community come together, we are a key contributor to New Brunswick’s economic and social growth agenda.”

Consider the new Fulcrum Initiative, launched in May to better facilitate industry, government and community engagement with academia. Says Dr. MaGee: “This initiative will help support and develop our ability to get more of that innovative capacity to our industry and community partners, where it can best contribute to our province’s growth, wellbeing and economy.”

Through the Fulcrum Initiative – made possible with support from the Government of Canada’s Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and The Molson Foundation – UNB’s Research and Innovation (R&I) Partnerships team will reorient and deploy new resources to better focus and facilitate industry engagement with the university’s cluster of research and innovation resources.

New convergence hubs, for example, will bring a wide range of expertise to bear in areas where there’s strong need and opportunity, such as advanced manufacturing. That, says Dr. Mohsen Mohammadi, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence at the University of New Brunswick, is great news. “A lot of work has been done here to enhance the relationship between industry and research in advanced manufacturing; there is now a unique space for industry to talk to researchers easily.”

Dr. Mohammadi – and others in the Centre who develop advanced materials that enhance the physical properties of aluminum, titanium, and steel – is not only a leader in the field, he’s also led ground-breaking research in 3D-printed long-fibre composites, metal coatings, and ultra-light high-strength metamaterials. “UNB’s R&I Partnerships team maintains very strong ties with industry,” he says. “We hooked into the biggest players in the marine and shipbuilding processes of the country and established a very active manufacturing center of excellence as a result.”

Dr. Alli Murugesan, Senior Scientist at UNB, as well as the Founder and President of BioHuntress Therapeutics Inc. says her research and innovation partnerships through UNB have been crucial to her work. She has developed a nature-inspired compound to treat blood cancers at the Reiman Cancer Research Laboratory, along with UNB’s Dr. Tony Reiman and Université de Moncton professor Dr. Mohamed Touiaibia. “I have had a fantastic experience with UNB,” she says.

“My background is discovery research with a strong translational focus, and the process became inter-institutional in my case. How researchers from two different universities coordinate and co-create intellectual properties (patents) is both intriguing and complex. The UNB IP and Technology Transfer teams have backed me up efficiently. The experience has been very collegial and collaborative.”

BioHuntress Therapeutics has gained enormous traction by graduating from the Creative Destruction Labs (CDL Atlantic, Halifax) program. Its compounds are on track to be developed into superior, safer products for industry.

Through these and many other examples, UNB’s academics, research activities, focus on entrepreneurship and involvement with the community are propelling New Brunswick forward.

Over the past five years, the university received 67 invention disclosures, filed 64 patent applications, and produced 55 licenses. In 2018-19, UNB contributed a net total of $43.6 million in added income (equivalent to 499 jobs) for the provincial economy.

As Dr. MaGee says, “We are, most definitely, open for business.” •

Learn more: UNB.ca/innovation

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