President's Report 2006 | Alumni

The Tower of Innovation

If you had to imagine Memorials spirit of ingenuity embodied in one building it might look like the $17.3 million glass, steel and concrete edifice that officially opened Sept. 20 on the St. John?s campus. The north-facing, three-story glass foyer of the Inco Innovation Centre (IIC) features a Labradorite waterfall and an elegant circular staircase that takes the visitor to open balconies on each of the two upper levels. From there the wooden doors open on generous marbletiled corridors and some of the most innovative office, collaboration and laboratory space in the country.

At the IIC opening, Memorial President, Dr. Axel Meisen, stressed the Centre?s role as a driving force for innovation. He said that the support of Inco and the Government of Canada for the IIC has provided jobs and economic growth and will create other benefits for people of the province by "making Memorial University a stronger, more research intensive and innovative institution.?

"Inco is extremely proud to be associated with Memorial,? said Scott Hand, LLD?05, chairman and CEO of Inco Ltd., also present for the ceremony. "This centre will help to foster and promote the kind of partnerships and innovation that have made Voisey?s Bay possible; not just technical innovation, but social, political and economic innovation as well.?

Within 9,000 square metres on three levels, the IIC houses a wide range of research, business support and educational facilities. Inco committed $13 million towards the capital cost plus $7 million for operations and maintenance over seven years. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency provided a total of $23.1 million in support of ongoing research and development.

"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."
- Tom Hedderson, B.A.?75 B.Ed.?76 former education minister

The Centre includes research and support areas on three levels. The hub of the IIC is the 300-seat lecture theatre. The tiered seating is fully equipped for videoconferencing and multimedia. Here, large groups can work together for learning, business and community development.

Level 1 is a world-class centre for research and development in finding and processing mineral deposits and other natural resources. The initial emphasis is on developing and simulating new processes and designing control systems to discover and process ore using innovative, environmentally sensitive methods (similar to the process now in operation in Argentia). The process simulation research is applicable to many industrial settings and will be used in Memorial?s oil and gas research as well.

Michael Shaffer, Earth Sciences research co-ordinator (top) with graduate students Stephen Hinchey and Michelle Huminicki, conduct mineral liberation analysis (MLA) in the IIC?s scanning electron microscope laboratory. The IIC MLA is unique. It is the second unit ever installed at a university with a mandate for innovative research. And it is the first unit in existence to use a new technology for high-resolution, ultra-high-speed electron detection.

Among the leading edge resources on this level are laboratories for:

  • process modelling and simulation;
  • process control and automation;
  • process engineering hydrometallurgy;
  • seismic exploration;
  • geochemical micro-analysis and mass spectrometry;
  • scanning electron microscopy;
  • secondary ion mass spectrometry;
  • health and safety; and
  • corrosion and sample reduction.

Also on Level 1 is the Major Research Partnerships office ? responsible for financial and administrative support to Memorial?s major existing and potential AIF-funded research projects. Here also is the CREAIT Network ? the interface for an integrated university-wide network of core research support and training facilities.

Level 2 will serve as base camp for aboriginal research at Memorial, housing both the Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies (see Luminus Vol. 30, #1, spring/summer 2005) and the Centre for Aboriginal Research. Also on Level 2 is the Beatrice Watts Boardroom named in honour of the late Dr. Beatrice Watts, a distinguished Labradorian educator.

The School of Graduate Studies, which provides a focus for more than 2,000 graduate students across the university, and the Office of Research, a liaison between faculty members and the various research funding organizations, are also located on Level 2.

Space on both Levels 2 and 3 will be given over to the Genesis Group, the technology-commercialization arm of Memorial University. The Group has several divisions including the Genesis Innovation Works on Level 2 which supports technology-based projects with near-term commercial potential, such as short-term R&D projects or trial production runs.

Once Level 3 is complete in 2006, it will include additional space for the Genesis Innovation Works and a multi-disciplinary research space for community-based research that brings together many disciplines to work on common projects with definite timelines.

Then Education Minister Tom Hedderson, B.A.?75, B.Ed.?76, summed it up best at the launch. "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.?

Story by Wade Kearley with Deborah Inkpen.