Speech from the President: GlycoNet NCE Announcement

Edmonton, Alberta

February 6, 2015

Good morning, bonjour à tous.

I am honoured to be representing the Tri-Council granting agencies here today.

I want to begin by thanking Minister Ambrose for joining us and by underscoring the Government of Canada’s enduring commitment to innovation.

I also want to thank the University of Alberta for hosting this event at its Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, or CCIS.

What a perfect location for this announcement! Indeed, the Center recognizes that today’s scientific challenges demand a more collaborative approach to research, and for this has created a physical space for researchers to interact.

The Networks of Centres of Excellence were likewise designed to promote interdisciplinary and inter sectorial research. They are meant to bring together researchers from different, yet complementary fields to work on specific and well-defined research objectives.

They are meant to harness new technology to drive research to a further level and, in turn, to ensure that knowledge generated through research leads to the development of new technologies.

And Glyconet is poised to do just that. And it needs to do so, because glycomics – the study of carbohydrates – is an area of scientific investigation where collaboration is critical.

Indeed, to fully understand the role of carbohydrates, and to apply this knowledge, one must draw on the expertise of researchers in a variety of fields.

The GlycoNet team will bring together more than 60 world-class researchers in chemistry, biochemistry, biology and immunology to work on the structure and function of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are one of the fundamental building blocks of life. For example, they serve as identifying molecules on the cell surface. They also play a crucial role in helping assemble proteins properly. And they are key players in the body’s immune responses.

As such, they are a promising target for developing new treatments for pressing health issues such as cancer, tuberculosis, hospital-acquired infections, or organ transplant rejection.

By focusing on the development of new medications and vaccines, GlycoNet’s researchers will help improve Canadians’ health and reduce the burden on our health care system.

GlycoNet will join the impressive lineup of NCEs that are already helping drive innovation here in Canada.

The Tri-Councils are proud to be supporting the NCEs and their researchers. The science coming out of NCEs over the years has been outstanding, which explains why they have been so successful in attracting external partners.

In 2013-14 alone, NCE Networks partnered with nearly 2,000 organizations, more than 500 of them from the private sector.

These partnerships have helped the NCEs become breeding grounds for many valuable new technologies and treatments. Over the past 25 years, the program has led to the creation 138 spin-off companies and an incredible 453 start-up companies.

GlycoNet will continue this trend. It has already attracted 36 partners, including private and public companies, government organizations, end-users and academic institutions.

I want to thank these partners for their commitment to working with GlycoNet.

Together, they will expand our understanding of glycomics, facilitate commercialization, and help deliver new diagnostic tools and treatments to Canadians.

By working with partners and stakeholders early in the research process, this NCE has increased the potential impact of its great work.

These kinds of public-private partnerships also help build on Canada’s research strengths.

They create opportunities for highly-qualified scientists, including research staff and research trainees.

They help generate new scientific knowledge in vital areas.

And, ultimately, they help improve Canadians’ lives.

Congratulations to the entire GlycoNet team.

Thank you.

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