Forward with Purpose

A Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation

Forward with Purpose: A Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation 2023-2028

This first institutional strategic plan for research and innovation presents a bold new step in defining areas for maximum impact to address the grand challenges of our time.

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Our Research and Innovation Ambition

The University of Alberta strives to be a leader in knowledge generation and translation, inspiring solutions to grand challenges of local, provincial, national and global importance through creativity, research, innovation and higher education. We recognize that addressing these challenges requires strong multidisciplinary and intersectoral connections among researchers and students, industry, the public sector and community members.

Strategic Research and Innovation Goals

  1. Focus on people and nurturing talented researchers
  2. Support researchers with tools and infrastructure
  3. Strengthen our research culture and broaden our impacts
  4. Enhance the University of Alberta’s global research and innovation leadership

Read the full plan to learn more about our goals, objectives, actions and key indicators.

“The University of Alberta has long been a leader in research and innovation to address pressing global challenges. This plan enables us to deepen our impact at the local, regional, national and global levels.”

Aminah Robinson Fayek, Vice-President (Research and Innovation)

Addressing Grand Challenges for Maximum Impact

Our university values and is committed to supporting high-calibre research and creative activities across all disciplines and in all areas of research. Highlighting research areas in which we have global excellence, as well as areas of leadership primed for further growth to address grand challenges, provides a way of focusing attention and investment in order to achieve maximum impact.

These areas are multidisciplinary and interconnected. Our approach is synergistic and collaborative, designed to bring together the depth and breadth of our researchers with industry, government and community partners to co-develop deeper understandings and develop innovative solutions to the grand challenges of our time.

Areas of Global Excellence

Broad, long-term and deep institutional strengths

Areas of Growth

Areas of leadership primed for further growth

Areas of Global Excellence

Broad, long-term and deep institutional strengths

Energy and Environment

Energy systems, resilience and climate change mitigation

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science

Health and Well-Being

Health, disease prevention and life-course approaches to care and well-being

Areas of Growth

Areas of leadership primed for further growth

Agriculture and Food

Sustainable agriculture, resilient food security and value-added diversification

Indigenous Research

Indigenous research, community engagement and relationships

Social Transformations

Advancing social betterment in the 21st century

Connections to Shape: A Strategic Plan of Impact

In Shape, the University of Alberta’s 10-year strategic plan, the institution outlines the following seven research and innovation goals that will contribute to transformational impact. These goals inform the Forward with Purpose plan and will shape research at the University of Alberta for the next several years.

  1. Increased number of large-scale, multidisciplinary research initiatives that stimulate community-engaged research and impact.
  2. Development of innovations that tangibly address major social, economic and environmental challenges facing Alberta, Canada and the world.
  3. More robust and comprehensive research capacity through the durable embedding of Indigenous community engagement and Indigenous ways of knowing into research practices.
  4. Spinoff and other commercialization activities that bring new products and services to the world.
  5. Increased representation and research success among researchers from historically underrepresented and equity-denied groups.
  6. Markedly higher research, innovation and creative collaboration across disciplines, through realized potential of the college structure.
  7. Improvement in the quality of life for millions of people in communities across Alberta, Canada and the world.

Moving Forward with Purpose

Forward with Purpose is a living and evolving strategic plan and vision for research and innovation at the University of Alberta. The next steps for implementation will:

  • Continue to integrate and align this plan with the implementation of the Shape: A Strategic Plan of Impact.
  • Support the colleges, faculties, centres and institutes in developing their own strategic plans, including guidance on how their individual plans can be integrated with this plan.
  • Conduct annual reviews of progress made in achieving the goals and objectives of this plan, including measurement of key indicators.
  • Review the plan, including the focus areas to address grand challenges for maximum impact, after three years.
  • Support the development of a comprehensive framework that recognizes the importance of assessing research impact fairly, inclusively and holistically.
  • Ensure an ongoing commitment to reconciliation through engagement, dialogue and consultations with Indigenous researchers and communities.

Consultation and Development

Forward with Purpose was developed by a diverse multi-disciplinary Working Group that started their work in July 2021 and refined through consultation with our community. Learn how we incorporated community feedback in the Towards a Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation (SPRI) companion document.

Download Towards a SPRI