New University of Calgary research centre named after Alberta rancher John Simpson

Cattle on pasture near Calgary, Alta. The Simpson Centre for Agriculture and Food Innovation will focus on research around public policy that supports growth and sustainability of agri-food and agri-business (James_Gabbert/iStock/Getty Images)

Alberta rancher and businessman John Simpson has donated over $5 million to the University of Calgary’s new agricultural research centre.

The centre, named the Simpson Centre for Agriculture and Food Innovation, will focus on research around public policy that supports growth and sustainability of agri-food and agri-business, particularly in Western Canada.

Simpson, a born and raised Albertan, is the owner, chairman and CEO of the CANA Group of Companies, a family-owned private construction services and development company.

“Agriculture is of major importance not just to farmers and ranchers, but to all Canadians. We all benefit from advances in agri-tech, accessible export markets and business-friendly policies that help spur economic growth,” said Dr. Ed McCauley, president and vice chancellor, University of Calgary, in a media release.

The school is known for its independence, rigour and fact-based analysis, notes the press release. The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy will inform the public and stakeholder dialogue about agri-food and agri-business issues and support the Simpson Centre in research and public education on forward-looking and practical issues in the agricultural sector, while always maintaining The School’s rigorous standards.

To that end, the School of Public Policy will establish four research areas within the Simpson Centre that will focus on timely and relevant topics that impact decision making in an effort to strengthen the farming and agricultural sector in Canada and as it exports abroad. Those four fields include trade policy, environment and climate change, agriculture as a major resource sector and food and agriculture technology.

“Several years ago, The School launched an initiative to quantify the contribution of various resource sectors to the economy,” said Dr. PG Forest, director The School of Public Policy. “We intuitively knew that the contribution of resource sectors, such as agriculture and livestock, were being undervalued and underestimated. John Simpson understands that — and he understands the incredible future contribution of globally traded Western Canadian agricultural exports to our economy. We’re grateful for his foresight.”

For more information on the Simpson Centre, visit

About the author



Stories from our other publications