USask and the City of Saskatoon partner to tackle urban issues
The University of Saskatchewan (USask) and the City of Saskatoon are partnering on a new program to help solve challenging urban issues through the power of research collaboration.
The new $100,000 cost-shared program—Research Junction—will involve research teams of at least one USask researcher and one City of Saskatoon staff member working together to address community needs around issues that include urban planning, reconciliation, transit, environmental sustainability, and youth issues.
Research Junction is a major initiative under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed last year between the City of Saskatoon and USask to explore wide-ranging collaborations.
“As the City of Saskatoon and the university work together towards a healthy, strong and sustainable future, Research Junction will provide the opportunity for our staff to join with researchers to problem solve and create unique solutions to the issues facing our city,” said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark. “The result of this collaboration will have tremendous and positive outcomes for our community.”
The funding—$50,000 from USask and $50,000 from the City of Saskatoon (committed in last year’s city budget)—will be allocated through a grant competition, with a Nov. 1 deadline. It is anticipated that this initial “seed funding” will attract external funding longer term.
“This exciting flagship initiative of our university-city partnership draws on the wealth of knowledge and expertise of our research community to help find locally tailored solutions to pressing City of Saskatoon research needs,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff. “It’s one way that we can give back to our community and be the university the world needs – starting with addressing complex challenges right here in our city.”
The research questions and projects will be co-developed and each project will either create a new collaborative partnership or broaden the scope of an existing partnership.
Half a dozen grants of $10,000 to $30,000 each will be awarded to projects that support the city’s strategic goals and contribute to making Saskatoon a great place to live, work, learn and play. Projects must be completed within 18 months.
“This program will enable university researchers and city staff to connect on research needs and opportunities in a more co-ordinated way,” said Dan Willems, the city’s Interim Chief of Strategy and Transformation Officer. “We’ve had collaborations for a long time within areas such as engineering research and other issues, but this initiative will enable us to broaden the topics and issues that we work together to help solve. These types of collaborations often unlock creative innovation.”
Research Junction will provide researchers with access to the city’s resources, data and expertise for research projects, and provide city staff with access to analyses and data to inform decision-making.
The initiative will also create co-developed experiential learning and research opportunities for USask students and post-doctoral fellows, which could help prepare them for future careers.
USask donor provides another $98,000 to augment community impact
In addition, thanks to a $98,000 anonymous donation, USask has launched a related initiative to focus research on community well-being through collaborative community-based research proposals with the City of Saskatoon and other partners. This year, up to $50,000 of this fund will be allocated for collaborative projects related to homelessness. The deadline for proposals for this Pathways initiative is Nov. 1.
“It is inspiring when donors come forward to help drive social change in our community through the power of research,” said Laura Zink, director of USask Strategic Research Initiatives. “Collaborations between our researchers and city personnel through the Pathways initiative will help find solutions to the many dimensions of homelessness.”
The research collaborations and success stories from Research Junction and the Pathways initiative will be shared on a website: research.usask.ca/research-junction.
To streamline administrative processes, the City of Saskatoon and USask are creating a master research agreement and data licensing agreement.