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Yesterday meets tomorrow

Converted mill building opens doors to research and innovation 

Campus and Community

By Pamela Gill

Corner Brook is the home of the new Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI).

The centre’s mandate is to support research and development, business diversification and a stronger culture of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

On Jan. 5, funding and project partners gathered to officially open the centre, a partnership of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic (CNA) and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. (CBPPL).

“Grenfell Campus holds a special place within Memorial University, and the Centre for Research and Innovation will hold a special place on the West Coast,” said President Vianne Timmons.

“This project is a clear demonstration of Memorial’s role as a socio-economic catalyst in the western region. The centre’s foci — innovation, creativity, research and training — will continue to strengthen collaboration between industry, post-secondary institutions, government and community partners for the benefit of this province and beyond.”

Funding partners

Funding partners include the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Government of Canada; the Newfoundland and Labrador Immigration, Population Growth and Skills and Industry, Energy and Technology departments; and the City of Corner Brook and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. (CBPPL).

The $8.9-million investment made it possible for Grenfell Campus, CNA and CBPPL to renovate the pulp and paper mill’s former Human Resources building.

Of the $8.9 million, $5.3 million was provided by the labour market development agreement between the provincial and federal governments to support an employer-sponsored training program that CNA will develop and deliver.

A further $2.9 million was invested to enable Memorial to complete the redevelopment of the CBPPL building. This includes $1,645,059 million from ACOA; $1 million from the Emera Entrepreneurship/Innovation Fund; $679,682 from the provincial government’s Regional Development Fund; and $50,000 from the City of Corner Brook.

In addition, ACOA and the provincial government contributed more than $700,000 to research and development projects: $400,000 from ACOA and $306,000 from the Research and Development Fund.

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

The grand opening event was attended by President Timmons; Gudie Hutchings, minister, Rural Economic Development, and member of Parliament, Long Range Mountains; Gerry Byrne, minister, Immigration, Population Growth and Skills, and member, House of Assembly, Corner Brook; Derrick Bragg, minister, Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture; Dr. Scott Reid, parliamentary secretary, Education, and member, House of Assembly, St. George’s Humber; Jim Parsons, mayor, City of Corner Brook; Michel Girard, vice-president and general manager, CBPPL; and Liz Kidd, president and CEO, CNA.

From left are Michel Girard, Jim Parsons, Dr. Vianne Timmons, Gerry Byrne, Gudie Hutchings, Dr. Ian Sutherland, vice-president, Grenfell Campus, and Liz Kidd.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

“The opening of the Centre for Research and Innovation brings a bright future for inspiring entrepreneurs in Corner Brook and the entire province,” said Minister Hutchings. “This facility holds limitless opportunities for students, researchers, and industry professionals. The new space, with its equipment and technologies, will spur product development and market exploration for the forestry, mining, and agriculture industries that support the growth and sustainability of Atlantic Canada’s economy.”

Local and regional growth

“Great change often begins with a single idea propelled by vision, collaboration and action,” said Minister Byrne. “Corner Brook’s Centre for Research and Innovation stands today because of the idea that established infrastructure can be re-purposed for future success. I see this new facility and its people, paired with the grand desire to build upon our achievements to date, as a key component in the forward path for future population growth, and greater economic and cultural diversity for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The facility, which is maintained by CBPPL, supports local and regional economic growth through innovation, research and training, and serves as a hub for regional innovation.

There are three related components to the project: the physical innovation centre in Corner Brook, including the Navigate Business Incubation and Co-working Space and industrial and digital maker spaces; research on the use of waste byproducts of the mill and new product development; and development of training opportunities by CNA.

The centre will provide a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, training and succession planning of skilled workers, creation of innovative and environmentally conscious industry opportunities and products, as well as local and regional agriculture activities, through which Grenfell’s graduate students gain valuable research experience.

“The cutting-edge training and world-class research that will be conducted at the Centre for Research and Innovation will certainly have a positive impact on our community and our province,” said Michel Girard, vice-president and general manager, Kruger Publication Papers, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited. “We’re also excited at the prospect of finding new uses for the mill’s waste byproducts and potentially developing new products as part of the centre’s mission, which aligns perfectly with Kruger’s and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental footprint. We wish to thank the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the City of Corner Brook, Memorial University, and College of the North Atlantic for taking part in this inspiring initiative.”

Community programming

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 West Valley Farms, Anaconda Mining, Hammond Farm and New World Dairy.

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