UNENE plans for a bright energy future

Lightbulb and tech graphic

UNENE’s 2021-2024 business plan is focused on strengthening UNENE’s effectiveness as a hub for excellence in nuclear research and education, as a connector between academia, industry and government.

In 2022, when UNENE turns 20, there will be lots to celebrate.

The organization has contributed much over the past two decades. It’s connected Canada’s nuclear university researchers with funding and knowledge to help shape the direction of the country’s nuclear research. The research has strengthened nuclear safety, reliability, improved environmental protection and cost effectiveness.

UNENE has also shaped and delivered nuclear education and training, especially for industry working professionals looking to strengthen their knowledge and skills, contributing to the human capacity within the industry.

Now, as the nuclear and education sectors undergo major transformation, so too, UNENE is responding with a transformative business plan in response to a rapidly changing landscape.

The current business plan, approved by UNENE’s Board of Directors in May 2021, was developed following consultation and input from more than a dozen stakeholders and board members across universities, industry and government. They provided insights that will help shape UNENE and Canada’s nuclear sector’s future. And, they’ve helped inform the role UNENE will play in that future. 

UNENE contributes to Canada’s strength as a global partner in nuclear science & technology, with a focus on three areas:

1. Maintain core CANDU capability by enabling world-class nuclear research 

  • UNENE facilitates industry research chairs and projects that support core capability in CANDU operation and performance throughout the CANDU plant life cycle, including decommissioning and nuclear waste management.

2. Work with the network to identify and execute new areas of research to build capability in new areas of nuclear innovation

  • The UNENE network research supports Canadian nuclear innovation in areas like advanced and small modular reactors to expand the use of nuclear energy to meet global climate change goals, and
  • Research that contributes to development of nuclear medicine and other products that help meet global sustainability goals.

3. Create a workforce for the future

  • UNENE and its university members are creating a workforce with the knowledge and skills to ensure Canada’s nuclear sector is ready to meet the need for highly-qualified candidates. Through UNENE-led collaboration, UNENE member universities develop best practices and share experience in nuclear education, and
  • In this business plan period, UNENE and its members in academia and industry are working to develop a common understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion best practices as they apply to nuclear research and education that can help the industry gain the benefits EDI brings and meet new goals on how EDI is applied in STEM education and training.  

UNENE’s Role

As the landscape undergoes some of its most rapid change, UNENE is working to ensure it is well-equipped to adapt to new expectations.

In the business plan, it has identified specific actions to update its own governance, infrastructure and programming. The organization is evolving to ensure it can help its members meet the opportunities and challenges they’ll face in the coming decades.

UNENE has in place, and will continue to develop mechanisms to achieve this, including:

  • Working through the advisory forums/committees already existing in its Board, Education Advisory Committee and Research Advisory committee that help shape decision-making and direction;
  • Through partnership agreements with organizations including CANDU Owners Group, the IAEA and other global nuclear university networks;
  • Through mapping of university capability and industry trends, including development of databases to provide matchmaking between the two; 
  • Serving as a secretariat for common industry positions or to develop common approaches amongst its university members on industry, education and research issues and trends;
  • Strengthening UNENE’s own digital infrastructure and communications: Create repositories, channels and content to improve accessibility to information across the network and visibility with communities and stakeholders; and 
  • UNENE is investigating evolving education methodologies and delivery mechanisms to provide the highest quality education experience for a diversity of student needs. 

Working with its members, UNENE is strengthening its effectiveness as a bridge and a voice that can help the Canadian and global nuclear sector strengthen innovation and operations. Together, we achieve more on behalf of the citizens who rely on it for clean, affordable and reliable energy and health solutions.

UNENE can contribute to government and society’s understanding of the value Canada’s universities contribute to nuclear science, and through it, quality of life. And it can bring greater awareness and support for nuclear’s contribution to Canada and the world’s sustainability goals.

A UNENE Hub Model infographic

UNENE’s business plan focuses on development of the organization as a hub members can access for collaboration amongst university, industry and government. From cataloguing and communicating collective accomplishments to funding and delivering education and research activities, UNENE is growing its capacity to facilitate and showcase excellence across Canada’s nuclear university network.