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Government of Canada funds world‑leading international institute for ocean science with $94 million contribution

Posted by Media Centre on September 6, 2016 in News

(Halifax, NS) – The Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), led by Dalhousie University, represents an historic partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Prince Edward Island. It will be one of the world’s most significant international ocean science collaborations. OFI will focus on the globally significant Northwest Atlantic and Canadian Arctic gateway. With this investment, Canada is now a world leader in ocean science.

OFI is built on world-class Canadian university expertise of Dalhousie, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Prince Edward Island, together with eight international partners including four of the top five ocean institutes in the world as well as partners in the Government of Canada’s federal laboratories, the Royal Canadian Navy, the National Film Board of Canada and national and international industry.

Today, Minister Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, announced $94 million in funding through the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) to support the Ocean Frontier Institute, the largest grant in the history of the three Canadian partner universities. OFI has also attracted an additional $125 million in support from provincial governments and partners, including a gift of $25 million from Mr. John Risley, prominent business leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist. This massive total investment of $220 million dollars is unprecedented in Canada’s ocean science sector.

OFI’s innovative research program is focused on understanding key aspects of ocean and ecosystem change; delivering ocean data science and technology tools to policy-makers, scientists and industry; and developing safe and sustainable solutions for ocean development. The Northwest Atlantic is one of the few places on earth where ocean changes are happening first and happening fastest, making it an epicenter of international scientific interest.

The OFI will provide the scientific, technological and human capacity to advance Canada’s ocean research leadership. OFI research will foster innovations related to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture to support transformation of those industries, as well as the development of disruptive ocean technologies (innovations creating new markets and value markets) and data solutions to support Canada’s growing ocean tech industry. OFI’s innovative research program is focused on understanding key aspects of ocean and ecosystem change and developing strategic and effective solutions that can apply both locally and globally.

Through linkages with organizations like the National Research Council of Canada’s Ocean Technology Enterprise Centre and Memorial University’s Marine Institute in St. John’s, and the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) in Halifax, OFI will help develop a nexus of high quality marine industries.

The institute will attract and retain world-leading research talent to Canada, and advance the region’s position as a center of ocean-related teaching and learning. The research developed through OFI will allow Canada to optimize opportunities and minimize the economic and environmental risks in the expanding ocean economy.

The OFI’s headquarters will be located at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an additional centre located at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Find more on the Ocean Frontier Institute here.


“Today’s investment ensures Canadian institutions, experts and researchers are able to compete and excel globally. The projects funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, including the Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier, will transform the post-secondary research conducted on several of our Atlantic campuses and pave the way for exciting new discoveries.”

The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board     

“Through the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), Dalhousie is bringing together the best in Atlantic Canada and the world to understand and sustain an ocean that is changing at an unprecedented rate. Led by Dal, OFI will be one of the world’s most significant international ocean science collaborations, creating opportunities for our students, scholars and partners to advance knowledge on a topic of regional and global importance.”

Dr. Richard Florizone, President, Dalhousie University

“Today marks a truly unprecedented era in research innovation at Memorial as our university moves from world class to world leader, engaging with global partners on solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development. This shared federal investment with Dalhousie and the University of Prince Edward Island will boost our partnership’s unmatched research strengths relating to oceans, including offshore fisheries, aquaculture and sustainable coastal communities.”

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, President and Vice-Chancellor, Memorial University.

“This research comes at a critical time for our planet and its oceans. We’re proud that UPEI and the Atlantic Veterinary College can bring our unique expertise in aquaculture and marine disease control and prevention to this unprecedented partnership. Together, we can help ensure healthy fish in a healthy environment, and nurture a sustainable source of quality protein for future generations.”

Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, President of the University of Prince Edward Island

“Nova Scotia is home to groundbreaking oceans research and some of the world's best ocean technology companies. The Ocean Frontier Institute is a key example of the kind of collaboration we need. This, coupled with the recent investment in COVE, will elevate Nova Scotia’s ocean science presence to the world stage and help us capitalize on our ocean advantage.”

Minister Kelly Regan, Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education

“I am simply thrilled to be a part of this initiative. I have nothing but praise for Martha Crago, Vice-President of Research at Dalhousie and the whole Dal team, they are heroes for getting us this far. We also owe huge thanks to Minister Brison for convincing his cabinet colleagues this project was worthy of such generous Federal support. It is enormously important the community appreciate the extent to which the Institute has and will bring together so many partners across the Atlantic Canadian scene. I have every confidence the OFI can become an engine for regional economic growth and firmly establish us as global leaders in ocean science.”

Mr. John Risley, Business leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist



Janet Bryson
Senior Communications Manager
Dalhousie University

902-222-9379 (cell)

David Sorensen 

Manager, Communications
Memorial University of Newfoundland

(709) 864-2143

(709) 685-7134 (cell)

Dave Atkinson
Research Communications
University of Prince Edward Island

(902) 620-5117
(902) 388-0062 (cell)


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