Prime Minister announces $12M for new water tech partnerships

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains visited the University of Waterloo today to announce $12 million in funding to bring industry and academic researchers together to build the next generation of water technologies.

This project is a great example of government, post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and businesses working together to drive innovation and create new jobs and opportunities for Canadians,” said Trudeau. “We are committed to building a more sustainable economy that ensures we leave a cleaner and healthier environment for our children and grandchildren.”

The $12 million, from the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario, is being provided to the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC). Located on the University of Waterloo campus, the SOWC helps Ontario companies leverage world-class academic expertise and real-world demonstration facilities to develop water technologies for successful introduction to the market.

We’re so heavily stressed in water management,” said David Rudolph, professor in the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and SOWC Watershed Node leader. “We’re at the end of our easy use of water resources and now we’re faced with really challenging problems – around the world, and in Canada as well.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains and Dean of Science Bob Lemieux.The Honourable Navdeep Bains with Dean of Science Bob Lemieux.

This event is a reflection of the strength of the Faculty of Science in water conservation and management,” said Dean of Science Bob Lemieux. “Our researchers were instrumental in helping establish the SOWC and now they can continue driving innovation in this essential sector.”

The SOWC is currently facilitating several projects with scientists in the Waterloo’s Faculty of Science, all of whom are members of the Water Institute:

  • Chemistry Professor Vassili Karanassios’ lab develops miniature and nano-sized sensors for use in portable, battery-powered field instruments that can perform on-site environmental analysis.
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair Janusz Pawliszyn’s lab developed a technique known as Solid Phase Microextraction (SPME). Together with Servos and the SOWC, he is applying this innovative technology to enable environmental scientists to do analysis quickly, right in the field.
  • Earth Science Professors Carol Ptacek and Sherry Schiff are also doing watershed work with SOWC. Ptacek’s lab is analyzing groundwater samples for water soluble emerging contaminants and Schiff is looking at artificial sweeteners in the Grand River.
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Dave Rudolph (Watershed Node leader) and his team work with IBM Canada and Solinst Canada Ltd., on the development of a Smart Watershed that collects hydrogeological data in real time, providing new innovations in watershed management and the protection of vital ecosystems.
  • Canada Research Chair Mark Servos (Analytical Node leader) and his lab evaluate the exposure and effects of emerging contaminants, particularly pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment.
  • Lingling Wu, a professor in the Earth and Environmental Science Department, is developing technology that removes 90 to 98 percent of phosphorus from residential wastewater. She’s collaborating with Waterloo Biofilter Systems, a company founded by former Waterloo science professor Craig Jewett.

Up to 90 businesses and not-for-profit organizations in southern Ontario are expected to benefit from the funding through the development and advancement of up to 80 collaborative water projects. The investment is expected to support at least 14 new partnerships and create or maintain 520 jobs over the course of the project.

The SOWC also creates unique platform for the students to interact with partners in a way that is the future,” said Servos, a professor in the Biology department. “It’s an opportunity for students to look at research and advance their careers in very a different way.”

Water researchers.Partners in the SOWC present at today's announcement (pictured left to right): Waterloo Biology Professor Mark Servos, Waterloo Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Dave Rudolph, Geoff Griggs of IBM Canada, and George Sousa of the Grand River Conservation Authority.

The support announced today will be a catalyst for industry-led collaborations in the water sector,” said Brenda Lucas, executive director of the SOWC.

Right Honourable Justin Trudeau with University of Waterloo Velocity Science students.

We can’t wait to see what our most innovative Canadian companies have in store for our communities. The future is within our grasp and no where is that more clear than in the extraordinary community of Waterloo,” said Trudeau.