rendition of the new Inco Innovation Centre.
The federal government will invest over $13
million through the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) in Memorial's
new Inco Innovation Centre. The announcement was made Sept.
10 by Gerry Byrne, minister of state for the Atlantic Canada
Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and Newfoundland and Labrador's
representative in the federal cabinet. Premier Roger Grimes,
Phil du Toit, managing director of Voisey's Bay Nickel Company
and Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial, were also on
hand for the announcement.
The new building is dedicated to innovation with about half
the space dedicated to innovation in general and the other
half to innovation for the Voisey’s Bay Project, explained
Dr. Axel Meisen.
“The announcement of the $13.1 million from the AIF
will enable us to achieve three important objectives in
conjunction with the Inco Innovation Centre,” said
Memorial’s president. “First, it will ensure
that the centre will be state-of-the-art physical facility
in support of innovation. Secondly it provides capital and
operating funding for advanced scientific and technical
research, development, education and training in support
of the Voisey’s Bay Project. And thirdly it creates
a key element in ensuring that this province and indeed,
all of Atlantic Canada becomes a leader in the global knowledge
Dr. Meisen displayed drawings of the new Inco Innovation
Centre and outlined plans for the transformation of the
Thomson Student Centre by architect, John Hearn.
“The former Thomson Student Centre will be transformed
into a strikingly beautiful building and functional building,”
Dr. Meisen explained to a room of government, educational
and business leaders. “The new building will incorporate
materials characteristic of the Voisey’s Bay Project
such as nickel and copper cladding, Labrador stone, Labradorite
in the foyer, and art from Labrador. It will use glass extensively
to symbolize that the work occurring inside the building
is connected to the outside world.”
The building – over 90,000 sq. feet in floor space
– is designed to symbolize the vastness of Labrador
and the importance of the work occurring inside.
An example of the innovative activity that will take place
at the new centre – apart from the work that supports
the Voisey’s Bay Project – is the work of Memorial’s
new Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies. The chair
will address not only the scientific and technical issues
important to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Aboriginal
people but also their social and cultural needs.
The Inco Innovation Centre will also provide space for graduate
students, and will house a first-rate 300-seat lecture theatre
equipped with telecommunications technology to serve students
Dr. Meisen also outlined the idea of creating a new process
engineering program at the centre. The program would be
a hybrid of chemical engineering, mechanical engineering,
computer engineering and possibly civil engineering to serve
industry needs in metallurgical sector as well as the petroleum
sector and food processing sector. The program would be
the first of its kind in North America.
Of the total costs of approximately $39 million, the project
will receive up to $13.1 million from the Atlantic Innovation
Fund over a five-year period. This funding will result in
the hiring of 40 new researchers at Memorial and build new
R&D capacity for mining innovation and technology commercialization
in the Atlantic region.
“As part of its program to maximize opportunities
for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Inco has committed
to the development of the Innovation Centre at Memorial
University and has pledged $20 million towards capital and
operating costs for the centre over 10 years,” said
Mr. du Toit.
“I am quite convinced that a good number of students
and other researchers will come here to study and perform
research at the Inco Innovation Centre,” said Dr.
Meisen. “So by combining our natural resources with
the ingenuity of our people we will serve the world and
make a very good living. I believe the centre will help
transform our society and our economy into a knowledge-based