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Harper Government Celebrates Opening of New Composites Innovation Centre in Winnipeg

April 11, 2012
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Remarks at the grand opening of a
Western Economic Partnership Agreement Project

Corresponding Document: News Release

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Mr. (Sean) McKay.

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge my fellow platform guests: the Honourable Peter Bjornson, Manitoba Minister of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade; Mr. (Kevin) Lusk, CIC Board Chair; and Members of the CIC Board of Directors.

It is an honour to join you today, on behalf of the Government of Canada, to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new and expanded Composites Innovation Centre. I have had the pleasure of visiting your former facility at Smartpark on a few occasions and it’s great to see you all again.

I understand that this new facility is almost four times the size of the previous Centre at the U of M Smartpark. The move to this larger building is a testament to the growing demand for composite research and manufacturing, and most importantly, to the Composites Innovation Centre’s success.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize the Centre for their initiative and leadership as the driving force behind the Canadian Composites Manufacturing R & D consortium, launched in 2010. This consortium was created to promote national collaboration on composite manufacturing, with the end goal of stimulating the Canadian economy, and is proving how partnerships can create greater opportunities for success.

Western businesses across a range of sectors – from manufacturing and aerospace to oil and gas and construction – are constantly looking for ways to maintain their competitive edge in a rapidly evolving global economy. To be successful, they must adapt to changes in their fields, and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Advanced composites drive industry change, and present opportunities to manufacture products faster, lighter and cheaper. Simply put, composites: save businesses money; decrease environmental impact; and increase the competitiveness of western Canadian companies in the global market. They are critical to the growth and success of several key sectors in Western Canada, including aerospace, automotive, and marine.

Manufacturing is at the heart of Manitoba’s economy, and the Composites Innovation Centre was established to assist the industries that rely on the use of composites, or “advanced materials.” With companies like Boeing and Airbus shifting away from traditional materials in aircraft manufacturing in favour of carbon fibre reinforced composites —it’s clear that composites are the wave of the future.

To support composites development here in Manitoba, WD has invested more than $10 million dollars for the Centre to provide manufacturing sectors with direct access to new materials that are durable, light-weight, and cheaper to manufacture.

I am pleased to say that since being formed in 2003, the Composites Innovation Centre has grown to become one of the largest composites research facilities in Canada. The Centre is quickly becoming world-renowned for the development and commercialization of composites.

Your work is exemplified in various innovative ways, from the EcoCycle featured in your front lobby—made of bio-fibres to the autobody parts displayed just outside this room—made of bio composite materials. These products demonstrate how composites can be applied to a wide range of sectors from civil infrastructure to transportation.

This new, larger facility features additional research space and a new training room dedicated to industry education. It will allow the Centre to do three key things: first, to better meet the growing needs of Manitoba’s manufacturing industry; second, to continue to solidify Manitoba’s position in the composite cluster, and; third, to ensure Western Canada’s global competitiveness in advanced composites.

In addition to our Government’s $10 million investment in the Centre, we are supporting a number of other projects that support a strong composites sector across the West. For example: in Alberta, WD support is enhancing the ability of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to provide applied research and to support companies develop new products that use composite materials, and the Pan Western Composites Network, led by the University of British Columbia, will enable academics and businesses across Western Canada- including those here in Winnipeg- to share research and information.

Through investments like these, our Government is helping western businesses innovate and compete. Our Government recognizes that small- and medium-sized businesses create jobs and generate growth in communities across Canada.

As announced in EAP 2012, my department will soon be launching the Western Innovation Program. This new program will provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises in Western Canada to assist them in bringing their innovative ideas to market.

More details on this program will be coming in the following weeks. Our Government is proud to have supported the Composites Innovation Centre, and we will continue to provide support to help western Canadian businesses thrive.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate the Centre on your outstanding achievements. We look forward to your continued success and innovative ideas.

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

Thank you. Merci.