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ENGAGED: Converted mill building opens its doors to research and innovation

​Funding and project partners gathered Jan. 5 to officially open Corner Brook's Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI).

The centre, a partnership of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd., is housed in the former human resources building of the pulp and paper mill. The centre supports research and development, business diversification and a stronger culture of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Grenfell Campus holds a special place within Memorial University, and the Centre for Research and Innovation will hold a special place on the west coast," said Dr. Vianne Timmons, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University. "This project is a clear demonstration of Memorial's role as a socio-economic catalyst in the western region. The centre's foci – innovation, creativity, research and training – will continue to strengthen collaboration between industry, post-secondary institutions, government and community partners for the benefit of this province and beyond."

Funding organizations include: the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Government of Canada, Provincial Government Departments (Immigration, Population Growth and Skills; Industry, Energy and Technology), along with the City of Corner Brook and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. (CBPPL). The $8.9-million investment made it possible for Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic (CNA), and CBPPL to renovate the pulp and paper mill's former Human Resources Building. 

The grand opening event was attended by the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development, Member of Parliament for Long Range Mountains, Government of Canada; the Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister, Immigration, Population Growth and Skills and MHA, Corner Brook; the Honourable Derrick Bragg, Minister, Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture; Dr. Scott Reid, Parliamentary Secretary, Education, and MHA, St. George's Humber; Mayor Jim Parsons, City of Corner Brook; Michel Girard, VP and General Manager, CBPPL; Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, Memorial University; and Liz Kidd, President and CEO, CNA.

"The opening of the Centre for Research and Innovation brings a bright future for inspiring entrepreneurs in Corner Brook and the entire province," said Minister Hutchings. "This facility holds limitless opportunities for students, researchers, and industry professionals. The new space, with its equipment and technologies, will spur product development and market exploration for the forestry, mining, and agriculture industries that support the growth and sustainability of Atlantic Canada's economy."

A total of $8.9 million was invested to support the Centre for Research and Innovation. This includes $5.3 million in funding through the Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) between the Provincial Government and the Government of Canada to support an employer-sponsored training program to be developed and delivered by CNA. A further $2.9 million was invested to enable Memorial University to complete the redevelopment of the CBPPL Human Resources building. This includes $1,645,059 million from ACOA, $1 million from the Emera Entrepreneurship/Innovation Fund, $679,682 from the Provincial Government's Regional Development Fund, and $50,000 from the City of Corner Brook. In addition, ACOA and the Provincial Government contributed more than $700,000 to research and development projects –$400,000 from ACOA and $306,000 from the Provincial Government's Research and Development Fund. Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada also provided $288,475 towards this project from the Canada's Clean Technology Program.

"Great change often begins with a single idea propelled by vision, collaboration and action. Corner Brook's Centre for Research and Innovation stands today because of the idea that established infrastructure can be re-purposed for future success," said Minister Byrne. "As Minister responsible for skills development and population growth, I see this new facility and its people, paired with the grand desire to build upon our achievements to date, as a key component in the forward path for future population growth, and greater economic and cultural diversity for Newfoundland and Labrador."

The facility, which is maintained by CBPPL, supports local and regional economic growth through innovation, research and training, and serves as a hub for regional innovation. There are three related components to the project: 1) the physical innovation centre itself in downtown Corner Brook, which includes the Navigate Business Incubation and Co-working...

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