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BC interior universities extend collaboration to advance research, innovation

A photo of a UBCO street sign that reads "Research Road" as well as the syilx translation.

UBC Okanagan, TRU in Kamloops, and UNBC in Prince George have renewed an MOU to foster collaborative research based in the BC interior.

British Columbia’s three interior universities have strengthened their commitment to research and innovation by extending their partnership with the Interior Universities Research Coalition (IURC).

The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus (UBCO) announced on Thursday they've renewed their Memorandum of Understanding for an additional five years.

"We're eager to continue collaborating with our research colleagues in the BC Interior to drive discovery and innovation further," says Dr. Philip Barker, UBCO's Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President of Research and Innovation.

"Each of the IURC institutions brings research specialties and strengths to this agreement?that create connections and maximize the partnership’s benefit?for BC interior communities and industries."

Since its inception in 2017, the IURC has boosted research initiatives throughout the BC interior. The coalition has secured nearly $8 million in funding for joint research projects and fostered collaboration between the universities.

Projects have tackled pressing regional issues such as disaster prevention, rural aging, COVID-19 effects, education and wildlife stewardship.

"The IURC has set the groundwork to advance important research in our regions--the collaboration between our institutions is critical in building capacity for new research opportunities in our communities," says Dr. Shannon Wagner, TRU's Vice-President of Research.

"The renewal marks the beginning of what we envision as a blueprint towards inter-institutional partnerships across Canada, inspiring a future where collaboration paves the way for discovery and growth."

The IURC’s next phase will focus on community-based research, expanding research capacity, developing shared educational opportunities and building upon the successes of the past five years. This partnership fosters talent, increases student and faculty mobility, and strengthens connections to communities across the region.

"The IURC facilitates partnerships among scholars at all three institutions. They work with community partners to identify solutions to pressing issues in our region and beyond. The knowledge generated through these projects builds capacity for healthy, productive and thriving interior communities," says Dr. Paula Wood-Adams, UNBC's Vice-President of Research and Innovation.

"We support this initiative and share the IURC's commitment to making post-secondary education more accessible, responsive, and relevant for people across British Columbia. The IURC is a leading example of institutions finding collaborative solutions to enhance educational opportunities and solve regional challenges so we can build stronger and more resilient communities in B.C."

-- Minister Lisa Beare, Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills

"B.C.'s post-secondary institutions and research centres are world-class, and this continuing collaboration ensures our province draws and retains the talent needed to drive innovation to make life better for people, and to create good jobs. Through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund and other provincial programs, our province is supporting our post-secondary research infrastructure and we're looking forward to hearing more from the partnership."

-- Minister Brenda Bailey, Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation

The IURC is a dynamic partnership between UNBC, TRU, and UBCO, designed to enhance research and innovation ecosystems within the BC interior. Learn more at IURC.ca.

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