The academic world is getting involved in the development of an Atlantic Gateway plan.

Dalhousie University, with funding from the province and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, will carry out a two-year pilot project aimed at enhancing the gateway plan.

The province has invested $50,000 and ACOA has put $115,000 into the project, which will be conducted at Dalhousie’s Centre for International Trade and Transportation, formerly the Centre for International Business Studies. The name change reflects new research partnerships with the other university departments, a new partnership with Columbia University and the research interests of private and public partners.

The project’s aim is to encourage the academic community to help develop the Atlantic Gateway strategy. It will include more courses, working papers and an international conference.

Centre director Greg Hebb said the academic world represents an “unbiased viewpoint” on the project.

“We want to see what makes sense,” he said Wednesday. “Although we are funded by government we have no mandate to come up with a certain answer.”

The centre is already preparing for two major events, a research institute session in August and a conference next May.

The August event will involve international and Canadian academics, who will explore subjects such as supply chain management, logistics, the economics of trade patterns, ports and port governance.

The May conference, featuring a wide range of academics and practitioners, will explore the ideas presented in August and will include government and industry representatives with the goal of determining how the gateway plan can move forward.

A steering committee, with representatives from the three partners and the academic and private sectors, will provide input during the pilot project.

Angus MacIsaac, minister responsible for gateway projects, said in a release the province is “pleased to be launching this joint project with ACOA and Dalhousie to support Nova Scotia’s position as a gateway to North America for trade coming through the Suez Canal from Asia and the Indian subcontinent.”

The province’s opportunities as an international gateway include expanded container traffic, international air passenger levels, cargo traffic handling and cruise ship figures.