Institute for Oil Sands Innovation (IOSI)

Governance and Scope


Since 2004, two committees have overseen the establishment and governance of IOSI: the Executive Management Committee (EMC) and the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).

The EMC provides strategic direction, monitors progress, approves budgets, research plans and intellectual property proposals, and recommends research areas for faculty appointments.

The SAC reviews research proposals, monitors research projects, and organizes workshops to develop research projects within the program areas selected by the EMC. SAC also recommends patenting and publication of research results to the EMC.


In order to achieve the Vision, IOSI operates under a mission statement, adhering to a set of values, with a series of goals. The IOSI Mission Statement sets out IOSI operations in order:

“To promote, to build capacities and to fund breakthrough research that leads to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable development of Canada’s mineable oil sands resources.”

Within that framework, the IOSI participants conduct themselves according to the following Values:

  • Partnerships, collaboration and teamwork
  • Effective communication
  • Fairness, objectivity and transparency

Finally, a series of Goals for the Institute have been identified that promote environmental use of the oil sands, economical operations in the oil sands and educational opportunities for oil sands research, more specifically:

  • To develop breakthrough research to reduce the use of water, energy and industrial footprint and yield high quality products from bitumen at lower costs in oil sands development:
    • Warm water is a low-cost medium for extracting the bitumen from the oil sands, but the clays in the oil sands ore become suspended in water, creating wet tailings. The high water content of the tailings make the current mining operations net consumers of water, and water used for extraction processes is not returned to streams and rivers. IOSI supports the development of new methods for the rapid dewatering of tailings. In the future, the industry will need to treat the water released from tailings and mining sites into the environment. New processes are needed to remove the water-soluble components from the oil sands to enable the safe release of this process water.
    • New approaches to reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases are also of interest, especially in conjunction with improved methods for extracting and processing the bitumen. The current technologies use heat and high-pressure processes which require large capital investments, and give significant emissions of greenhouse gases. IOSI places an emphasis on research to improve value and at the same time reduce energy consumption and the release of greenhouse gases.

  • To promote effective means of using, in Alberta, science and engineering resources of Alberta;The University of Alberta places a strong emphasis on the Institute, employing over two-thirds of the 140 research and administration staff currently working in IOSI, in addition to providing all research facilities used by the Institute.
  • To support science and engineering research laboratories and related facilities in Alberta;The Institute annually purchases research equipment and laboratory supplies and services to support its research projects. 
  • To promote co-operation in science and engineering to minimize duplication in, and promote concentration of, effort in that research in Alberta; andIOSI organizes workshops on oil sands processing, gathering a range of current IOSI researchers, as well as prospective researchers, together with industry personnel to identify specific knowledge gaps and research needs for oil sands. The intent is to stimulate new lines of research and create new networks within the oil sands community.