The Centre for Research & Innovation (CRI) was created in April 2007, through a merger of the College’s Integrated Research Unit (IRU) and The Innovation Network of the Peace Region Economic Development Alliance (PREDA) in order to meet the needs of regional innovators. PREDA had been pursuing innovation since 1999 as the focus for economic development and the IRU had been operational within GPRC since the early 1980s. The merger provided the region with a coordinated effort and helped prepare the College for its new mandate as a Comprehensive Community Institution (2007) and its applied research mandate (Bill 27 2009). GPRC now considers applied research to be an integral part of student learning and embraces innovation as a contribution to regional economic development.
The CRI model was developed after careful consideration by PREDA and the College in consultation with regional business leaders and clients, technical and economic development agencies and service providers. The region is recognized for its innovation (approximately 40% of Alberta’s patent requests from 5% of the provincial population) and for entrepreneurship (see side bar).
In September 2008, the Rural Alberta Development Fund provided a $3.4 million to Build a Culture of Innovation within Northwestern Alberta. This funding enabled us to developed the robust suite of services that we provide today.
In 2012, things changed again. PREDA concluded its funding support (March), the RADF project and funding concluded in June however, our 'one-stop-shop' funding was still there from Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. So . . . starting in July 2012, core funds for the CRI came from the College, and continues to this day.
We remain eternally grateful to both PREDA and RADF for their contributions to applied research and innovation in the Peace Country and the legacy that they created.