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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

September 18 , 2003

Plans for Inco Innovation Centre unfold

Artist’s rendition of the new Inco Innovation Centre.
Artist’s 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 based economy.”

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 elsewhere.

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 economy.”




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Next issue: October 2, 2003

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