New partnership advances research in health, clean energy

tablesigning_mou-880x330.jpg(From left) Jeff Griffin, vice-president science and technology, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories; Amy Gottschling, vice-president, science, technology and commercial oversight, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and Bryan Neff, vice-president research (acting), Western University, at the signing of the memorandum of understanding at Western on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

By Keri Ferguson, Western News

Western has signed a significant partnership agreement between Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to advance collaborative research in health and environmental sciences, clean energy and nuclear safety. 

The partnership with CNL, Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, and AECL, a federal Crown corporation, was announced yesterday (Feb. 14) with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at Western. 

The agreement includes an extensive list of focus areas, including imaging and radiopharmaceuticals; cybersecurity; high-performance computing and artificial intelligence; hydrogen; materials science and degradation; decommissioning and waste management as well as advanced and small modular reactors, fuels and power grids. Combining resources and expertise, Western will work with its partners to mobilize knowledge, spur innovation and develop intellectual property to provide solutions to national and industry challenges. 

“This exciting new partnership builds on more than 20 years of nuclear research at Western across the faculties of Engineering, Science and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry,” said David Muir, associate vice-president, innovation and strategic partnerships. “Our shared interest in creating collaborative opportunities will allow us to continue to make meaningful contributions and impact in this important new era of nuclear energy in Canada.” 

Advancing research and learning opportunities 

Current research at Western intersects with many of the projects underway at Canada’s national nuclear laboratories. The agreement will capitalize on this alignment, driving opportunities to fund research projects and chair positions in the areas of health, safety, security, energy and the environment.  

Students will also benefit through experiential learning opportunities, internships and scholarships, helping to create a pipeline of highly qualified people to work in the industry. 

Jeff Griffin, CNL’s vice-president of science and technology acknowledged the importance of growing academic partnerships and joint research ventures. 

“Last year, CNL released a new corporate strategy, known as Vision 2030, where we announced our plans to pursue closer relationships with Canada’s academic community, including research-oriented universities like Western,” he said. “A few short months later, we’ve made incredible progress towards that vision, culminating in this most recent agreement. Overall, there are tremendous advantages to this collaborative approach to research for all parties, whether it is sharing scientific and technical data, leveraging complementary resources, or developing new capabilities, and that is the motivation behind this new partnership with Western.” 

The partnership also positions Western to play a key role in shaping nuclear policy and technology in the next five to 30 years, aligning with the university’s strategic plan, Towards Western 150, and its goals to foster relationships, connect the university’s work to the world and tackle the important challenges of our time.