Minister Holder Announces Investment in Research to Boost Canada’s Agricultural Industry and Improve Global Food Security

The University of Saskatchewan initiative is a recipient of the federal government’s $1.5-billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund

July 29, 2015—Saskatoon, Saskatchewan—Tri-Agency Institutional Programs

Canadians could soon see new plant varieties developed at unprecedented scale and speed that are resistant to pests, disease, heat and drought thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada into a new, world-leading agriculture research program at the University of Saskatchewan. This investment will benefit farmers, create high-value jobs and help to grow the agriculture industry in Canada.

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) made the announcement as part of the government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund, which supports world-leading research at Canada’s universities and colleges.

The $37.2-million federal investment for the Designing Crops for Global Food Security initiative draws on the strengths of Canada’s top plant breeding research, agriculture institutions, businesses and organizations, including partners such as MDA Systems Ltd., PotashCorp, the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission and Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. This investment will have lasting and tangible benefits for Canadian farmers who have the opportunity to help feed the world.

Designing Crops for Global Food Security will strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in the field of transformative techniques for crop development. Already a recognized global force in areas such as agriculture, bioresources and sustainable crop production, the University of Saskatchewan will further cement its leadership role as this project aims to use specific genes to “design” plants that can withstand weather and growing seasons to improve global food security.

Today’s announcement follows an open and competitive selection process among Canadian post-secondary institutions. The competition was judged by a panel of Canadian and international scientific experts.

Quick facts

  • Launched in December 2014 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund will invest $1.5 billion over seven years to propel Canadian colleges and universities to excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canadians.
  • Today’s award is part of the Fund’s first $350-million competition.
  • The Fund is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) on behalf of the three granting agencies: the SSHRC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • As set out in Economic Action Plan 2015 and the renewed science, technology and innovation strategy, the Government is committed to supporting world-class research talent and infrastructure that is essential to advanced discoveries in both the public and private sectors.


“Our government is committed to moving ideas from the lab to the marketplace more quickly, strengthening Canada’s economy while creating jobs for Canadians. Today’s investment will build on the University of Saskatchewan’s world-class genomics research to make it world-leading, creating jobs and opportunities for businesses and farmers in Canada’s agriculture sector.”

—Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Our government is investing in research and innovation to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians. This investment in Designing Crops for Global Food Security will harness Canada’s strengths in genomics research to develop stronger, disease-resistant food to feed Canadian families while creating new opportunities for Canadian farmers.”

—Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology)

“Our government continues to make record investments in science, technology and innovation to create jobs and improve the quality of life of Canadians. Today’s announcement in genomics research at the University of Saskatchewan will establish Canada as a world leader while creating opportunities for Canadian farmers and businesses.”

—Brad Trost, Member of Parliament, Saskatoon-Humboldt

“The Canada First Research Excellence Fund has provided Canadian post-secondary institutions with an unparalleled opportunity to take their leading-edge research and make it the best in the world. This will set them on course to make the ground-breaking discoveries that will enhance prosperity and change the lives of Canadians and millions around the world forever.”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and Chair, Canada First Research Excellence Fund Steering Committee

“This exciting new research program will build on our renowned strengths in crop development, powerful informatics and unique-in-Canada synchrotron imaging to transform plant breeding. Working with our many international partners, we will address food security challenges around the world, bolstering Canada as a world-leading agricultural hub.”

—Gordon Barnhart, Interim President, University of Saskatchewan

“We will become a leading global centre for "by design" crop breeding, enabling plant breeders anywhere in the world with internet access to get all the information they need to design a plant suited to their geographic region and with significantly improved crop performance.”

—Maurice Moloney, Executive Director, Global Institute for Food Security, University of Saskatchewan

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Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Honourable Ed Holder
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Tel.: 343-291-2700

Michael Adams
Communications Advisor
Canada First Research Excellence Fund
Tel.: 613-944-1758
Cell: 613-219-7523

Kathryn Warden
Director, Research Profile and Impact
University of Saskatchewan
Tel.: 306-966-2506