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July 2015 Issue

Bringing Innovative Ideas from the Test Bench to the Global Market

Western Canada is home to talented innovators and business leaders who create high-quality jobs and products that help strengthen the economy. Western Canadian companies are developing and transforming ideas, as well as improving new products and processes to meet the growing demands of today's economy. Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) continues to support innovation and advances in research in the West, while playing an important role as a convener and pathfinder to help drive partnerships and create further opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the global marketplace.

Leveraging Innovation in Western Canada

On June 26, 2015, the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced the successful recipients of the second round of Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative funding.

Minister Rempel announces over $21 million in support of 21 projects under the second WINN intake.
Minister Rempel announces over $21 million in support of 21 projects under the second WINN intake.

WD will support innovators across Western Canada through WINN by funding over $21 million for 21 new projects in the region. As a result of this investment, businesses and entrepreneurs will have access to the support they require to move their new and innovative technologies from the later stages of research and development to the marketplace.

WINN is a $100 million five-year federal initiative launched in 2013 that offers repayable contributions for SMEs with operations in Western Canada to help accelerate the commercialization of innovative products, processes and services.

The projects supported through WINN link to a number of key sectors for Western Canada, including: information and communications technologies; health and life sciences; aerospace, defence & marine; nanotechnology, and clean technologies.

In announcing the recipients, Minister Rempel said, "Western Canada is home to many innovative entrepreneurs and businesses, and by supporting their efforts to transform their ideas into products and services we are growing our economy. WINN once again demonstrates our Government's commitment to protecting jobs and ensuring the Canadian economy remains strong for years to come."

Through WINN, these projects have leveraged additional private sector support of $21.8 million, more than doubling total project contributions. A complete list of recipients can be found on the WD website.

SAIT and Alta Innovative Manufacturing Facility Inspiring the Innovative Spirit of Students

In March 2014, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT Polytechnic) and Alta Innovative Manufacturing (AIM) unveiled the new SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation. The Centre provides small businesses and SAIT students with the opportunity to access a cutting-edge manufacturing facility for developing new composite-based products. Various new products could potentially be developed by this Centre, benefiting a wide-range of sectors, from transportation and construction to aerospace and defence.

Minister Rempel announces an investment of $3.5 million, through the Western Diversification Program, to the SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation.
Minister Rempel announces an investment of $3.5 million, through the Western Diversification Program, to the SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation.

Thanks to the $3.5 million investment through WD's Western Diversification Program, the new facility has state of the art equipment to support students, entrepreneurs, and manufacturing companies in developing new and innovative products enabling business professionals to thrive in today's western Canadian manufacturing sector. Over 600 innovators have already utilized the Centre's services for discussing and developing their own ideas or products.

"Western Economic Diversification Canada and AIM have shown leadership by initiating and supporting a facility with specialized tools and capabilities that are unique in Western Canada," said John Fallavollita, director of Applied Research and Innovation Services at SAIT.

AIM's relationship with SAIT has grown through support of SAIT's summer camps, student tours and training courses. One project developed at the Centre focused on designing a pipeline protection system, which will shield pipelines from soil erosion and physical-impact damage. Other projects have focused on the development of fourth-generation radio-frequency identification (RFID) cow-tag systems and DNA sample tracking.

"The SAIT-AIM Center for Innovation is proud to be at the front lines of diversification of our future economy," said Brett Darichuk, general manager of AIM. The Centre is providing SAIT students with a well-rounded and unique experience that will help cultivate their contributions to western entrepreneurs' growing desire to innovate.