Knowledge Mobilizer

As UBC nears its centennial, researchers, faculty and students steadily make advancements in labs and classrooms that go on to affect the world, not only on the cerebral scale but also in the commercial arena.

To date, UBC is the incubator for 169 spin-off companies, and discoveries that have helped generate more than $5 billion in sales and incalculable benefits to society. Featuring companies such as Vortek Industries and its high intensity lamp, BC biotechnology industry once-cornerstone QLT Inc. with its highly successful therapy to combat macular degeneration, WebCT and its worldwide learning platform, and Westport Innovations to name only a few, commercial ventures are given the best possible incubation for success at UBC.

UBC’s commitment to international knowledge exchange comes alive in the formation of The India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (IC-IMPACTS) in 2011. A joint proposal between UBC, the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto wins funding from the Canadian federal government to create the first International Network Centre of Excellence in the world (prior to this, any Network of Centre of Excellence had been strictly national). The centre keeps collaboration and multidisciplinary India-Canada research as its core requirement for research, and requires that chosen projects be ready to ‘hit the ground running’ at the community level in both countries.

In late 2011, TRIUMF’s main cyclotron and its ISAC facility sets a world record for delivering the most intense beams onto an actinide (a metal heavier than lead and bismuth) target for the production of isotopes used in medical and nuclear applications. Between 2010-2015, TRIUMF contributes to Canada’s ranking as one of the top 3 most productive publishers of high impact papers in particle and nuclear physics. It also provides more than 5,200 production runs of medical isotopes for the Pacific Parkinsons’ Research Program and the BC Cancer Agency, while commercially it generates $9 million, with 4 spin-off companies emerging from research conducted at the centre.

UBC announces its 3,000th ‘campus grown’ invention in 2011. Knowledge mobilization becomes more than a buzzword at UBC — researchers collaborate across disciplines to find real-world solutions; entrepreneurs take ideas into practice and commercialization; the campus itself becomes a laboratory that research, operations, staff, students and faculty participate in.


UBC announces its 3,000th ‘campus grown’ invention in 2011. Knowledge mobilization becomes more than a buzzword at UBC — researchers collaborate across disciplines to find real-world solutions; entrepreneurs take ideas into practice and commercialization; the campus itself becomes a laboratory that research, operations, staff, students and faculty all participate in.

Sustainability — economic, environmental and social — becomes a core research focus for the university and takes physical shape in its $35-million, 5,675-square-meter Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), which opens in 2011. The following year, UBC wins the prestigious Blue Planet Award for Sustainability, valued at nearly $645,000 CDN, at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil. UBC continues its clean energy practice with the launch of its on-site Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility, which supplies heat and power to UBC’s Vancouver campus using biomass — mainly waste lumber production products such as tree trimmings and wood chips. In the fall of 2015, UBC’s new Campus Energy Centre (CEC) will open its doors as a $24-million state-of-the-art hot water boiler facility located in the Vancouver campus.

The UBC Farm further embodies the principles of the ‘living lab’ by offering hands-on research space for more than 3,000 students, through 60 courses, and across 10 different UBC Faculties and Schools. Located on unceded ancestral Musqueam territory, the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems works closely with four Indigenous initiatives at the UBC Farm: the Musqueam Garden, Maya in Exile Garden, Tu’wusht Project, and Indigenous Health Research and Education Garden. The farm offers a unique and valuable place for graduate research and directed studies while engaging with the community through farm markets and camps for children.

In every discipline, UBC students continue to innovate, none more so than Aaron Coret with Stephen Slen who invent the Katal Landing Pad for safe snowboarding and which, via their company Katal Innovations, is used in the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. With the advent of social media, many students, faculty, staff and the broader community hear news of UBC’s latest discoveries on UBC’s official Facebook and Twitter platforms.


In every discipline, UBC students continue to innovate, none more so than Aaron Coret with Stephen Slen who invent the Katal Landing Pad for safe snowboarding and which, via their company Katal Innovations, is used in the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

As a cutting-edge, modern reflection of its entrepreneurial spirit, entrepreneurship@UBC is launched in 2010 to offer a permanent ‘home’ for creative business ideas from alumni, students, staff and faculty. Complemented by a UBC managed seed fund capitalized through alumni donations, over 300 new venture teams will be supported by 2015 through entrepreneurship@UBC programs including mentor networks, entrepreneurs-in-residence, workshops and courses.

Exemplifying the interdisciplinary nature of research at UBC, the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health opens on February 27, 2014, creating a cross-discipline facility where training, research and clinical expertise in neuroscience, psychiatry and neurology come together to better respond to the urgent rise in brain disease around the world.

In 2014, and after eight years of service, President Stephen Toope steps down and Dr. Arvind Gupta is chosen as the 13th president of UBC. In 2015, UBC continues to get invaluable support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) for new research infrastructure and equipment. UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI) gets powered up in July of the same year by a $66.5-million investment from the federal Canada First Research Excellence Fund making it the single largest government investment in a UBC research program.

While now a global centre for learning and teaching, UBC’s commercial work brings in $12.5 billion a year to the provincial economy — a long way from its tenuous days during the Great Depression when its ‘value’ to the province was in question. By spring of 2015, banners begin to dot the campus celebrating UBC’s Centennial, Dr. Arvind Gupta steps down as President to return to teaching and in September Dr. Martha C. Piper returns as Interim President of UBC. A new academic year begins and with it, 60,000 students who will be encouraged to make it their own. Tuum Est.

2010–2015: Timeline

Explore the era

  • The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, a 41,517 sq. ft. facility and living laboratory for sustainability research, development and practice, opens in 2011.

  • The Quantum Matter Institute (QMI) opens in 2010. In 2015, it receives a $66.5-million investment from the Government of Canada for quantum materials research.

  • Professor Madjid Mohseni of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UBC who along with graduate student Kristian Dubrawski mark UBC’s 3,000th recorded invention in June 2011.

  • Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health opens in 2014, creating a cross-discipline facility where research and clinical expertise in neuroscience, psychiatry and neurology come together.

  • Dr. Leonard Foster at the UBC Farm’s bee hives in 2015. Dr. Foster leads research that studies infectious diseases in bee colonies.

Stephen J. Toope

“Universities can be global citizens by supporting research that affects the lives of people in every part of the planet — even if the focus of the research seems to be local. Universities also help to create full citizens with a sense of duty to their interlocking communities, local to global. Universities can even act directly as global citizens by creating transnational student and research networks, by supporting sister institutions in the developing world, and by encouraging our students, staff and faculty to share the blessings of publicly funded education as widely as possible.”

Stephen J. Toope
President, 2006–2014
UBC Campus aerial shot

From its start, UBC was a change agent.

It can’t be said this quality was entirely due to one thing or another — being on the wild West Coast, starting out in the shadow of McGill University or having its students crammed like sardines into its first campus — but rather its character was formed by a confluence of these early experiences, along with the vision of its first leader and president, Frank F. Wesbrook.

Wesbrook passionately believed in the idea of a “people’s university”. He and the faculty who joined him in the new university’s first years of struggle, had faith that UBC would, one day, join the ranks of the great universities and help change the world with new knowledge.

Perhaps more than anything, it was this faith that ignited the entrepreneurial spirit within UBC that has proven to be resilient, nimble, curious and formidable; a university that now influences the global knowledge economy and changes the course of history through its discoveries. Now entering into its second century, UBC remains a place where the freedom to pursue open thinking leads to ideas that change the world.

Inspired and guided by its motto Tuum Est, UBC will continue to provide its students, staff and faculty the same freedom over the next 100 years.


“We cannot yet conceive of some of the areas we will be researching 100 years from now. But what we do know is that UBC will always pursue research that advances new knowledge. The world is increasingly relying on university researchers to confront the biggest and most complex global challenges. I believe UBC will be an important part of that future conversation.”

John Hepburn
VP Research & International

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Credits:


UBC Communications and Marketing would like to thank the University of British Columbia Archives whose expertise, time and insights helped shape the 100 Years of Discovery story. Notably, Erwin Wodarczak, Archivist; Candice Bjur, Archive Clerk; David Cumming, Archives Assistant; and Chris Hives, University Archivist. Additional archival assistance was provided by Jacky Lai, Archives and Circulation Assistant, University of British Columbia Library; Chelsea Shriver, Librarian/Archivist with the Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC; Robert Stibravy, Digital Projects Librarian, Library Digital Programs & Services; and Kelly-Ann Turkington, Permissions/Licensing Officer, with the Royal BC Museum.

Additional thanks to many UBC communications professionals who helped with research including: ErinRose Handy, Communications Manager, Faculty of Applied Science; Chris Balma, Director, Communications, Faculty of Science; Loren Plottel, Associate Director, Communications, Faculty of Arts; Liz Starbuck Greer, Director, Marketing & Business Development, Sauder School of Business; Terry Wintonyk, Senior Manager, Communications, Faculty of Dentistry; Heather McGregor, Marketing Manager, Professional Development and Community Engagement; Brian Kladko, Communications Manager, Faculty of Medicine; Jimi Galvao, Director, Communications and Marketing, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Linda Ong, Director, Communications & Marketing, Library; Anna Lidstone, Manager, Communications, Peter A. Allard School of Law; Juliana Fridman, Director of Interactive Marketing, Development and Alumni Engagement; Jamie Hall, Manager, Communications, Office of the Vice President Research & International; Martin Dee, Photographer, Communications and Marketing; Mary Holmes, Associate Executive Director, Continuing Studies; Jacqueline Wong, Communications Coordinator, Faculty of Medicine; Theresa Liao, Communications Coordinator, Physics & Astronomy; Susan Watts, Assistant Dean, Communications, Faculty of Forestry.

Special thanks to our partners in the UBC community: Sheldon Goldfarb, Archivist & Clerk of Council and Privacy Officer, AMS/Student Society of UBC Vancouver; Don Erhardt Photography; James Beresford, Manager, Governance and Recognition, Faculty of Medicine; Andrea Damascelli, Director, Quantum Matter Institute, Faculty of Science; Shawn Mansfield, Professor, Department of Wood Science Faculty of Forestry; Justin Lee, photographer; Aaron Coret, Director of Off-Hill Operations, Katal Innovations Inc.; Janice McNorgan, Information Systems and Program Coordinator; The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame; Brenda Grunau, Station Manager, CiTR; Sandra Boutilier, Librarian — Pacific Newspaper Group (Vancouver Sun).

100 Years of Discovery story team: 

UBC Communications and Marketing: Margaret Doyle, Digital Storyteller; Michael Kam, Web Developer/Coordinator; Lina Kang, Web Coordinator; Justin Lee, Video Production Assistant; Adrian Liem, Senior Web Coordinator; Mark Pilon, Communication Designer; Jamil Rhajiak, Communications Coordinator, Digital Information Channels; Laura Stobbe, Communication Designer; Matt Warburton, Manager, Graphic Design. Additional research and copywriting: MaryLou Wakefield, Storyteller; and David Leidl, Copy Editor and Researcher.

Published: September 2015

UBC is proud to mark its 100th anniversary as a global leader in education, research innovation and community engagement.
Learn more about the UBC Centennial.