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In recognition of Inco’s contribution to building Memorial’s new Inco Innovation Centre, President Axel Meisen (L) presented Inco CEO Scott Hand with a plaque. Designed by Helen Houston of Marketing and Communications and crafted by Jason Miller and Jason Barrett at Technical Services, the plaque is stainless steel mounted with a piece of the main ore body from Voisey’s Bay, Labrador.

Innovation unwrapped

It’s a gleaming piece of modern architecture shining out of the centre of the St. John’s campus of Memorial University. It represents the university’s commitment to innovation in research and teaching and will also enhance Memorial’s community-oriented focus.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, representatives of Memorial University, the provincial and federal governments and Inco Ltd. officially opened the Inco Innovation Centre (IIC), a new $17.3 million research and innovation facility located on the university’s St. John’s campus.

Inco Ltd. committed $13 million towards the capital cost of the facility and $1 million annually for seven years for operations and maintenance. The federal government ­ primarily through the Atlantic Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program and the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) ­ has invested over $23 million over a five-year period in support of ongoing research and development in the IIC.

Containing some 9,000 square metres, the Inco Innovation Centre houses a wide range of research, business support and educational facilities on three floors. Research related to geosciences, hydrometallurgy and the Voisey’s Bay mineral deposit will be concentrated on the first floor of the building. Also on the first level are labs for health, safety and risk engineering, and process engineering and corrosion reduction. The building is also designed to house a small scale model of a hydrometallurgical plant.

Memorial’s president, Dr. Axel Meisen, stressed the significance of the building.

“The Inco Innovation Centre is a beautiful new facility, but the true value of the new building will come from the innovations that the centre will foster at Memorial,” he said. “Thanks to the generosity and vision of Inco and the government of Canada, the Voisey’s Bay deposit will not only provide the jobs and economic growth one would typically expect, but will also pay other critically important dividends for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador by making Memorial University a stronger, more research intensive and innovative institution.”

“From its earliest days, the Voisey’s Bay project has demanded innovation,” Scott Hand, CEO of Inco Ltd. said. “Not just technical innovation ­ but social, political, and economic innovation as well. This project has demanded some of the most innovative partnerships this country has ever seen among private industry, government, aboriginal peoples and educational institutions like Memorial University. This approach has been a big part of the project’s success.”

“This is truly a centre for innovation, for invention, for creativity ­ and I can’t think of a better place for this facility than Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Tom Hedderson, minister of the Department of Education. “This centre is good for industry leaders, researchers and students alike. As minister of education, I am particularly impressed with what it will offer the students. Indeed, I would hope that this centre will lure the best and brightest students from around the world to Memorial.”

Operations at the new facility will not be restricted to the mining industry. The IIC will also play a role in social science research and knowledge transfer. For example, the facility houses the offices of Dr. David Natcher, the Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies and the Centre for Aboriginal Research. In his research, Dr. Natcher is exploring alternative models of community development that take into account not only Labrador’s commercial development versus the subsistence needs of its Aboriginal peoples, but also other factors such as Aboriginal health, nutritional status, educational achievement, access to desired resources, and Aboriginal rights.

For more on the opening of the Inco Innovation Centre, click here