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TechNL, industry organizations team up for Newfoundland and Labrador innovation centre

Will aim to create opportunities to collaborate, avoid duplicating services of existing resources

A new project in Newfoundland and Labrador is all about helping technology companies collaborate, create and lead the way in the province’s economic future.

On Thursday, TechNL and a group of partner organizations shared preliminary details on a plan to create a new innovation centre in St. John’s metro. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the provincial government are contributing a combined $117,000 towards the planning phase, which involves a pair of requests for proposals (RFP) addressing what activities and programs will go into the centre and requirements for the physical space itself.

Paul Preston, TechNL’s CEO, said the project will not look to duplicate existing programs that are already doing good things for the local tech sector, but instead offer new resources to encourage economic growth.

“It’s not just TechNL’s vision about what’s going to go in there,” he said. Among the project’s partners are Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA), Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association and Petroleum Research Newfoundland Labrador.

“Part of our RFP process is to make sure we get it right and that we have the collective needs of all those industries and those players around the table, and we’re not going to recreate existing infrastructure,” Preston said. “If there’s incubation, startup services and supports needed, (Memorial University business incubator) Genesis does an amazing job of that, and we would absolutely support companies going into Genesis and the benefit from the services they offer.”

Mixed opportunities
Kendra MacDonald, executive director for Canada’s Oceans Supercluster, said an innovation centre could offer a mix of opportunities, whether it’s by providing space for individual projects or offering an extension of existing services.“It’s meant to be a collision space,” she said. “It can also have lab space, and it can have work space. In some places, it has a kitchen. If you want to innovate on ocean food, for example, you can have a kitchen in the space. That’s part of it — trying to figure out what is the right thing here based on what we already have.”

NEIA executive director Kieran Hanley expects the space will accommodate development opportunities for pilot and demonstration projects and offer a supportive space for companies in the midst of an accelerated growth path.

“That’s what we envision, and I think part of this process we’ll go through will be to understand what will occur there and how we leverage the existing assets in the ecosystem that are already there and so successful already,” he said.

Premier Andrew Furey highlighted the strengths of the province’s technology sector, which includes approximately 165 companies employing 6,500 workers. The sector expects to create a further 2,000 jobs in the next three years.

“With all that in mind, it’s essential that we work to create an environment to support this growth and incubate the amazing talent that exists here in our own province,” Furey said. “Once established, a new innovation centre will do just that — bring together talent and opportunities found across our economy, including technology, oil and gas, ocean and clean energy.”

The two RFPs will reportedly be released in the near future.

Source: The Telegram | This text was excerpted from the media outlet cited on December 17, 2020 and is provided to Noia members for information purposes only. Any opinion expressed therein is neither attributable to nor endorsed by Noia.