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SAIT Polytechnic- Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute

March 21, 2012
Calgary, Alberta

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Funding Announcement

Corresponding Documents: News ReleasePhoto Gallery

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Thank you Dr. (Alex) Zahavich. Good morning everyone.It is an honour to be here on behalf of our Government. To begin, I would like to acknowledge my fellow platform guests:Mr. Claude Lemieux, CEO of Graf Canada and former National Hockey League player;Mr. Troy Crowder, President of True Stride and former National Hockey League player;Dr. Jon Kolb, Director of Sport Science, Medicine and Innovation for Canada’s Own the Podium Program;Mr. Duff Gibson, Head Coach of the Canadian National Skeleton Team and Olympic Gold Medallist; and Dr. Alex Zahavich, Director of Applied Research and Innovation Services for SAIT Polytechnic.

Last month, I had the pleasure of announcing a project with SAIT Polytechnic to support the development of new products that use composite materials. And I am delighted to return to Calgary today to highlight another key initiative that will help to further strengthen technology and product development in Western Canada.

The Harper Government recognizes the importance of turning promising ideas into innovative applications that create jobs and lead to economic growth. As one of Canada’s premier polytechnic institutes, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, or SAIT, is playing a leading role in helping Alberta companies to overcome technical challenges and take advantage of market opportunities. Under its applied research division, there are currently 150 students and 30 faculty and staff who are helping over 40 local companies to innovate, grow, and ultimately compete with increased success in the global economy.

An excellent example of this dedicated work is an initiative known as the Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute, otherwise known as SWETI. Since being established by SAIT Polytechnic, the Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute has been working directly with the sports, recreation, and wellness sectors to develop new prototypes, materials and designs for a wide range of products.

In addition to helping local technology developers, it is also building a world-class reputation for supporting our athletes — the men and women who proudly represent Canada on the global stage. For example, the Men’s National Skeleton Team has already seen several international top ten results and a podium finish thanks in part to the sleds designed by the Institute. And as we look forward to the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics and other major events, the Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute is expected to continue to play a leading role in helping Canadian athletes to shine — both at home and abroad.

This is why I am pleased to announce today that our Government is contributing a total of more than $712,000 dollars towards SAIT Polytechnic to further enhance the applied research services offered through the Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute. This funding includes: over $512,000 dollars through Western Economic Diversification Canada; as well as $200,000 dollars through the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

This combined federal investment will help to significantly enhance the Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute’s capacity to offer expertise in areas such as mechanical design engineering, business development, and prototype design.

Businesses will also benefit from a variety of other related services, such as market assessments, intellectual property support, and guidance on improving processes and manufacturing methods. Together, these activities represent an important step towards realizing the development of innovative sports and wellness equipment that benefit both elite athletes and the general public.

Whether it’s working as part Canada’s Own the Podium Program to develop leading-edge skeleton bobsleds that give Canadian athletes a competitive edge at the upcoming Winter Olympics or designing a pedaling system on bicycles that can be turned in both a clockwise and counterclockwise rotation in order to help athletes ride for longer periods. Or even developing equipment such as multi-functional wheelchairs that provide improved mobility. The Sports and Wellness Engineering Technology Institute is poised to be at the forefront of helping to facilitate the growth of Western Canada’s Sports and Wellness industries.

And with Calgary already being home to numerous national sports organizations — such as Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Ski Jumping Canada, the Canadian Luge Association, and Winsport Canada — there are tremendous opportunities for this initiative to foster new synergies that result in the faster development of market-ready products.

Today’s investment builds on our Government’s previous support for enhancing the ability of SAIT Polytechnic to provide applied research services to Alberta’s small business sector, including investments of: $3.5 million dollars to establish and equip a Centre for Innovation to help small- and medium-sized businesses to develop new composite-based products; $4 million dollars to construct and equip the Enerplus Innovation Centre, which will be housed within the upcoming Trades and Technology Complex; and $1 million dollars to establish the Centre for Innovative Information Technology Solutions.

Our Government recognizes that we have an important role to play in fostering the economic climate that supports business innovation and competitiveness.  Through investments like these, we are taking another step to ensuring that western Canadian businesses have every chance to succeed.  And our economic leadership will continue as we take targeted actions to support job creation and economic growth.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this initiative. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the ongoing work of SAIT Polytechnic, as well as all of the collaborating organizations that are helping to position this initiative for continued success. I look forward to hearing about the positive outcomes that are realized as a result of today’s investment.

Together, we are building a stronger West for a stronger Canada.

Thank you.