Environmental genomic lab opens in Atlantic Canada

The Canadian government said a research centre focused on the use of genomics for environmental assessment and monitoring which opened in St. John’s, Nfld. Recently is the first of its kind in the world.

An investment of close to $3 million from the federal government through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) in eDNAtec Inc. is supporting the establishment of the Centre for Environmental Genomics Applications (CEGA). The money will also fund the development of a new DNA-based methodology for the environmental monitoring of industrial projects, especially as it relates to oil and gas operations.

Over the next five years, all six regional development agencies across Canada, including ACOA, will invest a total of $1.5 billion to strengthen innovation capacity and economic growth in each region.

Part of these investments will go towards supporting projects such CEGA that are adopting new technologies to boost innovation capacity and competitiveness.

Canada intends to compete for the most talented researchers, the latest technologies, and the fastest growing companies, according to Navdeep Bains, the country’s minister of innovation, science, and economic development. He said it is through investing in organizations such as eDNAtec that Canada will be able to accomplish this.

Nick Whalen, the member of parliament for St. John’s East, said Newfoundland and Labrador has a long history of ocean innovation.

“We are home to a dynamic ecosystem of leading-edge researchers and businesses whose expertise and specialized technologies are in demand around the world,” he said. “With this investment, the Government of Canada continues to demonstrate its commitment to innovation which will both strengthen and grow the middle class and help protect our planet.”

Environmental genomics is the study of genes to characterize biological components of the environment.  It is a novel application of genomics that has the potential to enhance or replace conventional approaches to biological analysis in Environmental Assessment and Monitoring (EA&M) programs.

The investment from ACOA is provided through the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF), which encourages partnerships among private sector firms, universities, colleges and other research institutions to develop and commercialize new or improved products and services.

Other partners in this project include the Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd. (HMDC), the Research & Development Corporation (RDC) and Petroleum Research Newfoundland & Labrador (PRNL).

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