To Equip Canadian Researchers with Powerful Software Tools and Expertise, CANARIE Awards $3.6M to Six Institutions to Fund Local Research Software Development Teams
Local teams will help accelerate scientific discoveries by simplifying researchers’ access to world-class software built for research.
CANARIE announced today the selection of six successful applicants from its Research Software funding call for local research software support. This funding will support teams of three dedicated, full-time research software developers at each of the selected institutions. These teams will be available to support all researchers at the institution, regardless of discipline, and will provide guidance, training, expertise, and software development specific to advancing research projects.
Research increasingly relies on purpose-built software. However, many researchers lack the resources to manage software development teams and may be unaware of existing research software that could be easily adapted to meet their needs. In response to this need, CANARIE launched a pilot in 2018 to test the viability and impact of local research software support teams at Canadian institutions. Based on the success of this pilot and of similar efforts in other countries, this initiative was expanded at the national level to:
- Leverage software engineering best practices to improve the quality and reusability of software for research;
- Re-use research software that already exists to avoid the duplication of functionality in new software development; and
- Develop a critical mass of Canadian research software developers with expertise in establishing and running local teams.
“Providing resources and tools for researchers to connect and work collaboratively is an investment our government is proud to support,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Today’s funding through CANARIE is ensuring our researchers have access to the necessary software expertise that will help them make important discoveries at a faster pace.”
“We’re delighted to support teams of local software development experts across Canada,” said Mark Wolff, CANARIE’s Chief Technology Officer. “Purpose-built software has been funded and used by researchers in data-intensive disciplines for years, but nearly all research can benefit from software development expertise. These teams of experts will extend the reach and value of software across all researchers at their institutions and foster a culture of sharing and re-use that accelerates outcomes.”
Institutions that will be funded through this call to implement Local Research Software Support Teams:
- Simon Fraser University, led by Dr. Martin Siegert: “Simon Fraser University brings together those that do good with SFU experts to amplify our collective efforts for a larger societal impact. SFU experts are already leading the development of common platforms in a number of different disciplines. Through this funding, SFU will establish a central software development team that will support projects that require innovative approaches in applying the power of big data and artificial intelligence to the problems that truly matter.”
- Sunnybrook Research Institute, led by Dr. Anne Martel: “We will use publicly available tools to create an environment where medical data can be easily accessed, viewed, and manipulated by users without the need to reinvent existing software. We will also provide support for the development of new specialist analysis packages in-house and help Sunnybrook researchers to distribute more reliable and robust software to collaborators around the world.”
- University of Calgary, led by Dr. Abdel Yousif: “The main hurdle identified by UCalgary researchers to increasing research productivity is the absence of local programming support to enable the development of automated data management tools. This CANARIE funding allows us to help a large number of research projects to implement research data transfer and pre-preprocessing software modules that are re-usable across projects. Our goal is to automate data preparation and management activities to reduce labour-intensive, manual efforts.”
- Université Laval, led by Florent Parent. Dr. Philippe Després: “Through major investments in cutting-edge technological infrastructures, Université Laval is fully committed to supporting research, backing its researchers in the era of data-driven science. This funding will allow, among other things, the development and integration of software tools to facilitate good practices in research data and to democratize the use of digital research infrastructures. The projects carried out by the team will serve to accelerate research at Université Laval and will bring value to the Canadian research community as open-source contributions, accessible through CANARIE’s Research Software Portal.”
- University of Ottawa, led by Daniel Trottier: “This funding targets a clear need to reduce siloed development efforts across the research community through a central software development hub focused on sharing and reuse. With this initiative we elevate uOttawa’s capacity to meet the needs of our researchers who require more tactile support. Our goal is to develop purpose-built software and extend it not only across the University of Ottawa but also among other institutions. We are very excited by this opportunity provided by CANARIE.”
- Université de Sherbrooke, led by Alain Veilleux: “This funding from CANARIE is the key ingredient that was missing to put in place a support team dedicated to research software development. The use and development of specialized research software has become an essential part of the day to day researchers work across a wide range of disciplines. This opportunity is the next logical step for the Center for Computational Science at the Université de Sherbrooke, after having operated several major Compute Canada HPC and Cloud infrastructures, offering HPC analysis support and participating in the development of research platforms. Our goal is now to not only help local researchers but have the results of this work impact the national and international research community.”
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CANARIE connects Canadians to each other and to the world. Our programs equip Canadian researchers, students, and startups to excel on the global stage.
Together with our thirteen provincial and territorial partners, we form Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN). This ultra-high-speed network connects Canada’s researchers, educators, and innovators to each other and to global data, technology, and colleagues.
Beyond the network, we fund and promote the development of software for research and national efforts to manage data generated from research. To strengthen the security of Canada’s research and education sector, we collaborate with our partners in the NREN, government, academia, and the private sector to fund, implement, and support cybersecurity initiatives. We also provide identity management services to the academic community and boost Canada’s startups with cloud resources and expertise in emerging technologies.
Established in 1993, we are a non-profit corporation, with most of our funding provided by the Government of Canada.