Driving the Innovation Economy in Thunder Bay

    McGuinty Government Building Ontario's Innovation-Driven Economy

    THUNDER BAY, ON, July 28 /CNW/ -


    Research aimed at developing more innovative strategies to manage
Ontario's boreal forest is receiving $140,000 in funding from the province's
Early Researcher Awards program
    Funding leading research is part of Ontario's plan to build an innovation
    Ontario is providing Lakehead University's Dr. Han Chen
(http://flash.lakeheadu.ca/~hchen/) with $140,000 to help mitigate the impacts
of rapid environmental change on Ontario's forests. Dr. Chen will develop
advanced monitoring strategies to improve forest management. The goal is to
enhance quality, biological diversity and the ability of Ontario's northern
forests to act as carbon sinks - natural filters that clean our air and reduce
the level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
    In total, 66 projects across the province worth $9.24 million will
receive funding from the Early Researcher Awards program. The goal of this
program is to improve Ontario's ability to attract and retain the best and
brightest research talent from around the world. Today's investment will
ensure that leading Ontario researchers have the resources they need to build
their research teams of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research
assistants and associates from across Canada and abroad.


    "Our forest industry is facing significant change due to global
competition, strained market conditions and the increasing value of the
Canadian dollar. At the same time, Ontario and jurisdictions all around the
world are facing the global challenge of climate change. I am proud to support
Dr. Chen's research, which addresses both of these challenges," said Thunder
Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle (http://www.michaelgravelle.ca/).
    "Innovation is the key to creating new jobs and global market
opportunities for Thunder Bay and Ontario. Supporting research such as Dr.
Chen's will ensure that we continue to turn global challenges into
opportunities for our changing and evolving natural resource sector," stated
Bill Mauro (http://www.billmauro.onmpp.ca/), MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan.
    "Today's investment is an important part of Ontario's plan to build an
innovation-driven economy. We are investing in the people who are pioneering
the scientific breakthroughs that will improve health care, protect the
environment, and ignite growth in the industries that will shape Ontario's
future," said Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson


    -   The Early Researcher Awards program is an important part of Ontario's
        Innovation Agenda
        (http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/oia/program.asp), a plan
        to make innovation the driving force of the provincial economy.

    -   Innovation is part of the McGuinty government's five-point plan for
        the economy. The other parts of the plan are:

        -  Skills and training
        -  Building infrastructure
        -  Strategic business tax cuts to create investment
        -  Partnerships with business.

    -   Ontario's forests make up two-thirds of the province's total area,
        17 per cent of Canada's forests and two per cent of the world's

    -   The northern Ontario boreal forest accounts for 76% of the province's
        woodland that supports most of Ontario's forest industry.

    -   Ontario is also investing $25 million in the new Centre for Research
        and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE)
        (http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/news/CRIBE052108_bd2.asp) in
        Thunder Bay. The centre will attract world-class researchers and
        industry leaders to develop the next generation of renewable forestry

    -   Forest bio-products contribute an estimated $1 billion to Canada's
        economy (http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/factsheets/bioproducts).


    Learn More about the Early Researcher Awards

    Learn More about Ontario's Innovation Agenda

    Learn how Ontario's Budget 2008 (http://ontariobudget.ca/english/) is
    supporting innovation

                                                      Disponible en français



    Funding world-class research is part of Ontario's plan to build an
innovation economy.
    Ontario's universities, colleges, hospitals and research institutes play
a vital role in the government's five-point plan to ensure Ontario remains at
the forefront of the global knowledge-based economy by supporting cutting-edge
research and developing world-class researchers.
    The Early Researcher Awards program
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/era/program.asp) (ERA) helps
promising, recently-appointed Ontario researchers build their research teams
of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and
associates. The goal of the program is to improve Ontario's ability to attract
and retain the best and brightest research talent from around the world.
    Across the province, this investment will mean cutting-edge research
opportunities for as many as 225 graduate students and post-doctorate
researchers, and engage as many as 6,700 high school students each year,
giving them an inside look at real research and inspiring them to consider a
career in science and technology.
    The ERA program is a key part of Ontario's Innovation Agenda. Supported
by close to $3 billion in spending over eight years, the Ontario Innovation
Agenda (http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/news/OIA042908.asp) is building
Ontario's innovation economy on the strength of our province's creative
environment, diverse culture, highly skilled workforce, world-class
educational system and internationally recognized research community.


    Dr. Han Chen
    Managing the Diversity of Ontario's Forests

    Sustainable management of boreal mixed-wood forests is crucial for
long-term ecosystem health and the forestry economy in Ontario and elsewhere
in Canada. How can forest management improve forest productivity and
simultaneously enhance biological diversity and carbon uptake? This is the
focus of Dr. Han Chen's research at Lakehead University. Answering these
questions will help us develop more innovative strategies to manage Ontario's
boreal forest in a changing environment.

                                                      Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Sandra Watts, Minister's Office, (416)
314-7067; Perry Blocher, MRI Communications Branch, (416) 326-7717

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