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NEWS RELEASE · 13th May 2010
M. of Tech. & Economic Devlp.
With Canada's largest blue whale skeleton serving as a reminder of the need for research into endangered species, Premier Gordon Campbell opened the Beaty Biodiversity Centre at the University of British Columbia today. The centre brings together world renowned scientists and is putting B.C. at the forefront of global research in biodiversity.

"By investing in cutting-edge labs and equipment, we are giving these talented researchers the tools to answer fundamental questions about how species emerge, and how to conserve those that are endangered," said Premier Campbell, who noted that B.C. is the most biodiverse province or territory in Canada. "In the face of climate change, we are working to find ways to sustain life in all its forms, even as we take action to protect our natural world by reducing our carbon footprint."

The $50-million Beaty Biodiversity Centre houses the Biodiversity Research Centre, which brings 25 senior scientists and their teams together and is designed to facilitate collaboration among researchers from different disciplines. The 11,520-square-metre, four storey building is also home to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which will open to the public this fall, with more than two million specimens, including plants, insects, fish, shells, birds, mammals, fossils.

"The Beaty Biodiversity Centre exemplifies UBC's pursuit to engage and inspire," said UBC president Stephen Toope. "The synergy and intellectual discourse enabled by the shared research space, and the curiosity and reflection inspired by the museum's public programs, will have an enormous impact on our understanding of our complex and interconnected world."

The B.C. Knowledge Development Fund provided $16.5 million for the research centre, matched by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum was made possible by an $8-million donation from UBC alumni Ross and Trisha Beaty, and a $3 million gift from the djavad mowafaghian foundation. UBC contributed $6 million to the facility.

Eliot Phillipson, president of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, said: "The CFI is proud to support leading-edge research by UBC scientists that will not only advance basic knowledge on the origins of life but inform critically important conservation efforts to maintain biodiversity in Canada and around the world."

"The Beaty Biodiversity Centre will enrich our local society, Canadian society and global society by carrying out research and displaying some of the species and biodiversity of our world," said Ross Beaty. "And it will teach existing and future generations - our children - the wonders and fragility of many of the species we all share the earth with."

The opening ceremony was held in the Mowafaghian Atrium, a two-storey glass gallery that houses the 25-metre skeleton of a blue whale that beached on the coast of Prince Edward Island in 1987. It is the largest skeleton exhibit in the world suspended without external framework for support.

"The museum's atrium will become a focal point for outreach and educational activities that will help school children and the general public gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the interconnectedness of all living things on earth," Djavad Mowafaghian said in a statement. "The knowledge of where we come from and where we are going will entice us to be more active in helping to improve our environment for our children."

The Beaty Biodiversity Centre's sustainability features include a green roof and water channel that supports aquatic plants and insects, and helps to reduce storm water surges.

Since 2001, the Province has committed $1.8 billion to research and innovation, which has attracted another $1.3 billion from other sources. Between 2001 and 2009, the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund provided over $357 million for 657 research projects at public post secondary institutions, hospitals and research agencies.

Other provincial investments that include support for biodiversity research are $152.5 million for Genome BC; $94.5 million to the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium; and $10 million to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Government has also invested at UBC in a lab for invertebrate biodiversity, a facility for biodiversity dynamics research, and support for participation in the Canadian University Biodiversity Consortium. The ministries of Environment, Agriculture and Land, and Forests and Range also fund research into biodiversity.