University of Saskatchewan

October 01, 2014   

President Ivany Optimistic Synchrotron Project Will Go Ahead

Wednesday, October 29, 1998

President Ivany Optimistic Synchrotron Project Will Go Ahead

Proponents of the $178.2-million Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron are optimistic the project will go ahead, despite a recent Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) ruling on "in-kind" matching funding that could leave the proposal with a $12-million shortfall.

University of Saskatchewan president George Ivany said he plans to continue to press the case with the CFI that the Saskatchewan Accelerator Laboratory (SAL) is a reasonable in-kind contribution. SAL is valued in the CLS application at $32.6 million, which would generate a $12-million (40 per cent) CFI matching contribution.

If that discussion fails, Ivany said he's confident the project now has enough momentum to carry it through.

"We're optimistic we can obtain this funding from our partners in industry and government because of the enormous benefit this project will bring to the province and the nation," he said.

"With the kind of work we're getting from our Collaborative Committee, we're confident we can overcome the shortfall or at least redesign the project to meet any new financial parameters."

Ivany stressed the CFI ruling this week was not an unexpected development.

"In earlier discussions with CFI officials, they indicated specific issues and exceptional circumstances such as ours would be reviewed after the full application had been filed," he said. "Now that we're into the final stage of assessment, the CFI has informed us of the need to re-examine our plans to include the SAL as an in-kind contribution."

Under the CFI funding agreement with the federal government, property which belongs to an institution at the time of application cannot be counted as a contribution eligible for matching CFI funds.

To enable the $32.6-million SAL to be counted as an in-kind contribution, it was proposed that SAL be transferred to a new not-for-profit corporation, Canadian Light Source Inc., which then would donate the laboratory to the project. The CFI has now informed the U of S that this arrangement does not meet CFI rules.

The University's position is that the SAL facility is crucial to the project and that unlike other types of existing infrastructure such as hospitals, SAL won't continue to exist if the CLS project doesn't go ahead. "When we succeeded in taking our proposal to the NSERC peer review panel, they recognized the SAL was an in-kind part of the project that made the whole synchrotron project possible," he said. The CFI has informed the university it plans to strike an ad hoc committee to review technological and economic aspects of the project. Ivany said he's confident the project will pass this review given that it has already undergone thorough scrutiny by the 1996 international peer review sponsored by NSERC, Canada's leading scientific granting agency.

He noted it's a significant achievement for the project to advance this far in the competition given that only half the proposals submitted were invited to do so. "Given that this is potentially the biggest scientific project in Canada, this is a very significant hurdle to have gotten over," he said. The CFI is being asked to supply the final $71.3-million piece in the funding puzzle. Another $42.8 million is committed from public sector partners, there's the $32.6 million in-kind contribution of the SAL site, and $31.5 million is anticipated from corporations.

A final decision is expected from the CFI by March 30, 1999.

The synchrotron, which would produce light a million times more intense than medical X-rays, is considered an indispensable high-tech tool for both basic and applied research in universities and industry. It would be used to probe the structure of matter, develop new drugs, design new microchips for more powerful computers, manufacture tiny biomedical implants, and create new materials.

For more information, contact:

Dr. George Ivany
President of the University of Saskatchewan
(306) 966-6612

Kathryn Warden
Research Communications Officer
Office of Vice-President Research
(306) 966-2506

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