Michelle Rempel, the minister of state for Western Economic Diversification Canada, announced on Tuesday that it will be giving federal funding to the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute at the University of Alberta.
The $3 million of federal funds will go towards Li Ka Shing's purchases of specialized equipment that can be used to conduct pre-commercialization activities for the development of vaccines and therapies. The equipment and following vaccines are expected to bring commercial investments that will further these medical products and help bring them to the marketplace.
"This funding will enable University of Alberta researchers to accelerate the process from research discovery to commercial vaccine development," Lorne Babiuk, the university's vice-president of research, said. "Increasing the number of vaccines developed and their speed-to-market will save thousands of lives and improve both quality of life and economic productivity. For example, one promising vaccine currently under development by our Li Ka Shing researchers is for hepatitis C. This viral disease affects 170 million people worldwide and is one of the leading causes of cancer and need for liver transplants."
WD's investment will help the institute increase the number of vaccines and knowledge about varying diseases and treatments in the Edmonton area. The eventual goal is to have a competitive virology cluster in Alberta.
"One of our Government's priorities is to ensure the long term competitiveness of Canada's economy and support a high quality of life for its citizens," Rempel said. "We achieve this by making strategic investments to accelerate innovation and assist late stage R&D activities that enable local start-up companies to retain and commercialize new discoveries, such as vaccines to treat and cure viral diseases."