A new innovation centre will spring up in the next two years at NAIT. The feds and provincial government were on hand Wednesday morning for the announcement for what will be an $80 million facility.
Federal infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi announced through their Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, the feds are in for $34.9 million. The rest will come from donors and the school’s infrastructure money from the province.
NAIT president and CEO Glenn Feltham said the building will be mostly single storey covering a 180,000 sq ft area at the far eastern end of the campus. “This is going to be world class labs but labs designed for industry to come and partner and solve the problems that they need to be able to be competitive.”
They’ll give access to industry to partner in improve training and research, as well as develop, test and commercialize new technologies and products.
“This is a critical role for NAIT to play,” Feltham told reporters. “If we were to look at other countries like Switzerland, or Germany, or Norway, poli-techniques play this critical role. So we are so incredibly pleased that we’re able to greatly expand what it is we’re currently doing and welcome industry into NAIT.”
Edmonton-Centre MP Randy Boissonnault said the investment is part of the government’s strategy to improve the economy.
“All of our strategic investments in innovation across the country are designed to improve the GDP performance of the country. Economic growth is the name of the game. And there’s two ways you drive economic growth. It’s immigration, which we’re increasing and productivity gains.”
“Productivity gains are made by investing in research and technology. We’ve been talking about closing the productivity gap for 30 years and it’s smart investments like this that can actually make that difference.”
NAIT is using some of its capital budget for its $45 million share of the project. Provincial trade minister Deron Bilous said Alberta’s investment in post-secondary institutions in the 2016 budget allowed NAIT to use that to leverage the federal program.
The area next to the traffic circle at 101st street has already been fenced off. The funding is conditional of the work being done with in two years. Feltham said they’re already well under way and he expects the innovation centre to be completed in the next 18-19 months.