It wasn’t as if everyone was avoiding the word “building,” it’s just that the Life Sciences Research Institute (LSRI) is so much more.
Dalhousie President Tom Traves called it a “business and incubation centre,” a “one-stop life sciences shop.” Colin Latham, chair of the LSRI steering committee, dubbed it a “research village.” And Martha Crago, Vice President Research for Dalhousie, referred to it as a “potent anchor” and a “district of discovery.”
Whatever you want to call it, the Life Sciences Research Institute is unique for Halifax—a beautiful, light-filled facility where scientists, students and entrepreneurs will work together. The idea is that through collaboration and discussion, they will be able to move research seamlessly from the lab to the commercial sphere.
'One powerful team'
“We bring science and technology transfer together to form one powerful team,” said Dr. Traves at the June 21 launch.
The location of the state-of-the-art facility on the corner of Summer Street and University Avenue is important to this concept; LSRI is situated in close proximity to hospitals, research labs and the Tupper Building, home of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine, which it is connected to by a pedway.
“How can you not be inspired in this building?” said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, who with a wave of his arm indicated the light-filled foyer, open to the ceiling. “It’s a space that holds a lot of promise for the province ... this institute has the capacity to produce leading-edge research while providing enhanced clinical, educational and training space.”
Premier Dexter noted he’s been spending a lot of time at Dalhousie lately, having recently attended the launch of the Halifax Marine Research Institute, bringing together science and industry. “LSRI will have a similar focus for the life sciences sector.”
While President Traves and Premier Dexter spoke of promise and potential, HRM councillor Sue Uteck brought passion to the launch.
“I lost a loved one to ALS,” began Councillor Uteck, referring to her husband Larry Uteck, a noted football coach and city alderman who died at the age of 50 in 2002. “I see this as a place of passion, vision, leadership, hopes and miracles ... that’s the excitement of everyone I encountered.”
The event was capped by release of balloons and the unfurling of a silk banner by Nova Scotia artist Holly Carr. She was as excited as anyone to see the artwork in its entirety; she worked on the banner in sections, depicting DNA, molecules, amino acids, cells, synapses, organs and nervous systems. In total, it’s more than 18 metres in length and 1.5 metres wide.
“I must say, it was quite a process ironing it and rolling it and getting it in the car,” she said with a laugh.
The founding partners of LSRI are Dalhousie University, Capital Health and the IWK Health Centre in partnership with Innovacorp. Among the more than 100 life science researchers and research groups relocating to LSRI are the Brain Repair Centre and the Atlantic Mobility Action Project. On the business incubation side are Innovacorp and Dalhousie’s Industry Liaison Office.
The $70-million facility was funded by Industry Canada, Province of Nova Scotia, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation and other private benefactors.
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