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$8.9-million catalyst

Centre for Research and Innovation celebrated by partners

Campus and Community

By Pamela Gill

Corner Brook will soon be home to a centre that will support research and development, business diversification and a stronger culture of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

Numerous dignitaries were on hand for the July 27 announcement at the mill in Corner Brook.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

Funding from the Government of Canada, the Provincial Government departments of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, Advanced Education, Skills and Labour and Fisheries and Land Resources, the City of Corner Brook, as well as Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. (CBPPL), is making it possible for Grenfell Campus-Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic (CNA), to embark on a major renovation and research initiative.

The centre, which will be housed in a vacant building provided by CBPPL, who will be in charge of maintaining the facility, will support local and regional economic growth through innovation, research and training and will serve as the hub of the regional innovation system.

There are three related components to the project: 1) development of an Innovation Centre in downtown Corner Brook; 2) research on the use of waste byproducts of the mill and new product development; and, 3) the development of training opportunities by CNA.

Iris Petten, chair, Board of Regents, attended the funding announcement in Corner Brook Monday and delivered remarks on behalf of Memorial University.

“The goal of the overall project is to jump start sustainable regional development for the western region of Newfoundland by strengthening collaboration between industry, post-secondary institutions, government and community partners,” she said.

“This will foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, support training and succession planning of skilled workers, create innovative and environmentally conscious industry opportunities and products, support local and regional agriculture activities and initiatives and provide internship opportunities for graduate students at Grenfell and students at CNA.”

Multiple partners

A total of $8.9 million is being invested to support the Corner Brook Centre for Research and Innovation and related initiatives.

This includes $5.3 million in provincial government funding to support an employer-sponsored training program to be developed and delivered by CNA.

A further $2.9 million is being invested to enable Memorial University to complete the redevelopment of the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. Human Resources building to house the Centre for Research and Innovation. This includes $1.2 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), $1 million from the Emera Entrepreneurship/Innovation Funding, $679,682 from the provincial government’s Regional Development Fund and $50,000 from the City of Corner Brook.

In addition, ACOA and the province are contributing more than $700,000 to research and development projects:$400,000 from ACOA and $306,000 from the province.

Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada is also providing $288,475 towards the project from the Canada’s Clean Technology Program.

The event was also attended by Premier Dwight Ball; Seamus O’Regan, minister, Natural Resources; Gudie Hutchings, parliamentary secretary, Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development and member of Parliament, Long Range Mountains; Gerry Byrne, minister, Fisheries and Land Resources and member, House of Assembly, Corner Brook; Jim Parsons, mayor, Corner Brook; Darren Pelley, vice-president and general manager; and Liz Kidd, president and chief executive officer, CNA.

‘Investing in training’

“Our government is committed to partnering for new economic development activity as well as supporting the province’s existing and future workforce to create long-term sustainability,” said Premier Ball.

“By investing in training and the Centre for Research and Innovation, we are supporting labour force development, succession planning, innovation, entrepreneurship and research and development. This innovative partnership between Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, College of the North Atlantic and Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus will be a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship, while also ensuring that workers have the skills they need to thrive in the economy of today, tomorrow and the future.”

‘Creating opportunities’

Minister Seamus O’Regan attended on behalf of Mélanie Joly, minister, Economic Development and Official Languages and minister responsible for ACOA.

“With this new centre, our students, researchers and industry will be working together to create new products and find new markets for our forestry industry,” said Minister O’Regan. “We are also creating opportunities for workers at the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper mill to continue their training, making the mill more competitive and sustainable.”

Stakeholders consulted

Regional and community partners are critical to this initiative, which aims to provide the foundation to spark larger, longer-term transformational change in the Western Newfoundland region.

Key stakeholder groups, such as Western Newfoundland Entrepreneurs, the DIY Society, the City of Corner Brook and Qalipu First Nation, were consulted and will play a role in future programming.

Additional research partnerships with businesses in the western region have also been confirmed, including with West Valley Farms, Anaconda Mining, Hammond Farm and New World Dairy.

Ultimately, key outcomes for the Centre of Research and Innovation will include infrastructure and capacity building, research and development, entrepreneurship and innovation, education and skills training and growth in the agricultural and forest sectors.

Benefits are expected for all partners involved, including CBPPL, the two public post-secondary institutions, the City of Corner Brook and community sectors locally and throughout the province.

The project will also act as a catalyst for continued communication and collaboration among all stakeholders in pursuit of sustainable growth and innovative practices.

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