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New facilities to link research investments to commercialization


Ottawa, ON – Work has begun at six new research and innovation facilities being funded by the National Research Council. Each of them has been mandated to increase the commercial value and economic benefits of federal investments in scientific research.

“Linking commercialization and research is the next phase of the national technology cluster development strategy,” says Michael Raymont, NRC interim president. “We are now moving to secure the benefits of these investments for the regions concerned and for all Canadians."

The six facilities following are valued at over $125 million. NRC’s participation in these initiatives was undertaken within the context of the development of technology clusters in the regions, reallocations of NRC resources, and previous budget allocations. Each of the new facilities has been designed to meet specific needs as defined by the local research infrastructure and the regional technology cluster.

Fuel Cells Research in Vancouver: A $2 million hydrogen technology environmental chamber (HTEC) will be put into operation at the NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation (NRC-IFCI) on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, BC this month. The only public facility of its kind, it will allow companies and researchers to test and evaluate hydrogen vehicles and stationary power systems – an important step in moving these products closer to commercialization. The HTEC will simulate extreme temperature, humidity, and altitude conditions to create conditions ranging from an arid desert to the coolness of high altitudes or the heat and humidity of the tropics. The HTEC is large enough to hold a complete vehicle such as a pick-up truck and is equipped with a chassis dynamometer. The environmental chamber was implemented through a partnership between government and industry. Funding was provided by NRC, Western Economic Diversification Canada, and Fuel Cells Canada. In-kind support was provided by Public Works and Government Services Canada. Plans are underway to officially launch the facility on November 10, 2004.

Biomedical Technology in Winnipeg: The NRC Centre for the Commercialization of Biomedical Technology (NRC-CCBT), located at the NRC Institute for Biodiagnostics (NRC-IBD), will advance innovation and entrepreneurship in biomedical technology within a Manitoba cluster, as well as across Canada. The facility will be home to more than 40 firms, organizations, and innovation support services and programs. Included will be companies that develop diagnostic and imaging hardware and software, create data analysis and informatics products and support, undertake medical device manufacturing, or develop health and health information systems. Construction of the Centre cost $11.2 million. The funding is being provided by NRC. In addition, the government of Manitoba is providing $2 million for the construction and initial support to develop a number of the centre’s programs. The NRC-CCBT and the BCC will be officially launched on November 9, 2004 at NRC-IBD in Winnipeg.

Photonics Fabrication in Ottawa: The $43 million Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre at the NRC research complex in Ottawa has been established, in partnership with the Carleton University supported by the government of Ontario, to encourage growth of the Canadian photonics sector by offering companies, universities, and other institutions access to fabrication services to develop leading edge photonic devices. The centre will draw upon the existing facilities and research expertise in photonic materials and devices at the NRC Institute for Microstructural Sciences (NRC-IMS). Through the creation of the centre, NRC and Carleton University will use their existing equipment, research activities, and incubation facilities to support national programs, to foster development of world-class photonics technology clusters within Canada, and to help Canadian organizations tap into the emerging global photonics market. The Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre is now in partial operation at NRC and an official opening celebration will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Aluminium Technologies in Ville Saguenay: The NRC Aluminium Technology Centre (NRC-ATC) has been built to provide Canadian industry with the technical support and expertise required to develop value-added aluminium-based products and services. Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and NRC have contributed $25 million and $32 million respectively to the ($57 million) project. Located on the Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi (UQAC) campus, in Quebec’s Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region. It combines research and development activities for leading-edge aluminium-based materials manufacturing technology, as well as process simulation and instrumentation used in the transformation of aluminium into finished and semi-finished products. The official opening was held on November 8, 2004.

E-Business Industry Partnership Facility in Fredericto: The new Industrial Partnership Facility (IPF) at the $7.8 million NRC Institute for Information Technology (NRC-IIT) – e-Business lab in Fredericton is now complete. The new IPF will ensure that Canadian industries will benefit by having NRC expertise and facilities readily available as a company initiates product development and moves through commercialization of the emerging technology. NRC-IIT interaction with business includes licensed technologies, R&D support and business mentoring, and flexible working partnerships. The official opening will take place on November 19, 2004.

Nutrisciences and Health in PEI: In addition to these now-completed facilities, NRC and its partners the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) and the University of PEI (UPEI) has started construction of the $11.5 million NRC Institute for Nutrisciences and Health (NRC-INH) facility on the UPEI campus this month. The NRC institute in Charlottetown forms the hub of a biosciences cluster committed to linking investments in research to commercial value in the form of new products, services, businesses and high quality jobs on PEI. Scientists at the NRC institute in Charlottetown study compounds found in nature for their potential to improve health. The launch ceremony is scheduled for November 12, 2004.