A network led by the University of British Columbia (UBC) received $1.6 million in funding to transfer knowledge to practice that will improve water quality for Indigenous and non-urban communities.

The funding was provided by the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE), a federal program that connects teams of scientists across Canada to collaborate on research with significant health, environmental, and societal impacts.

“NCE support for these important efforts will further scientific research and ensure that academic expertise is applied to some of the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor at UBC. “These new investments will enable our researchers to expand their collaborations across Canada, building constructive partnerships that can enhance the quality of life for millions, in Canada and beyond.”

The NCE funding will support the RESEAU Centre for Mobilizing Innovation, which uses a “community circle” model in working with Indigenous and rural communities to improve the quality of drinking water.

Many Indigenous and non-urban communities face challenges in providing clean drinking water for their members due to smaller tax bases, remote locations, lack of trained operators, and other factors, said UBC chemical and biological engineering professor Madjid Mohseni, who will serve as the network’s scientific director.

“By putting the community at the centre of the innovation process, we ensure that proposed solutions are sustainable and that they satisfy each community’s unique needs, on their terms,” Mohseni said. “Over the next four years, the network plans to expand its community circle model to foster open innovation in water health for these communities, in a way that supports self-determination and aligns with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.”

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