SYDNEY, N.S. – A database designed to connect entrepreneurs and researchers in Atlantic Canada officially launched this week.
The new program, known as AFRED (Atlantic
Facilities and Research Equipment Database), has been developed to outline
equipment availability at universities across the region.
AFRED is an initiative designed by Science Atlantic, a non-profit association
of 16 post-secondary and research institutes in Atlantic Canada.
David McCorquodale, professor of biology and dean of Science and Technology at
Cape Breton University, serves as the chair of Science Atlantic.
He said the organization has been in the planning and building process of this
database for the past six or seven years.
“The goal is basically a networking and cooperation initiative,” said
McCorquodale, a resident of Georges River. “What we want to do is put
researchers and equipment together,
“There is also an economic development spin-off in that some small and large
companies work on research, and it’s all about university researchers and
equipment and it also gives them access to equipment and the expertise as
AFRED is an open-access database that links users with facilities and equipment
needed. The program saves time, while also saving people from buying equipment,
which already exists. Currently, over 400 pieces of equipment are
The innovative will help make costly projects possible, accelerate research
projects as well as bringing innovative products and processes to the market
faster, helping grow Atlantic Canada’s economy and creating jobs.
“The networking, putting people together, it’s got benefits for researches in
that it puts them in contact with other researchers that have the equipment
that they potentially could use,” said McCorquodale. “It can put the business
industry in contact with researchers that have equipment and the expertise.”
The Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association already has its equipment and
facilities in the database.
“One of their motivations is that they can be connected with researchers that
have interest and questions that their interested in, including fish stocks, pollution
in the lakes, water quality, and that sort of thing,” said McCorquodale.
Although the program is developed for Atlantic Canada, McCorquodale said the
interest in the program is growing.
“We’re ahead of the curve as we’re now getting interest from national
organizations (in Canada) saying it’s a pretty good model, can we work with you
to go national,” he said. “We would have to partner with someone, if they we
were going to expand beyond the Atlantic region.”
McCorquodale said the organization feels the database is a service to the
“We think it’s important to facilitate research in Atlantic Canada,” he said.
“We also think it’s a way to facilitate interaction between industry and the
universities of Atlantic Canada.”
The federal government is also showing its support for the program.
Funding for the project was made possible through a non-repayable contribution
of $181,897 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency Business Development
Program. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has
also supported the program, providing $16,850, for total funding of $198,747. Springboard Atlantic also
made a contribution.
McCorquodale said the next step for the program is to promote it and have
scientists and industry get use to the idea of looking at the database.