New innovation centre opens in southeast Airdrie
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 10:33 am
A new cutting-edge manufacturing facility had its official grand opening in Airdrie on March 7. The SAIT-AIM (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology-Alta Innovative Manufacturing) Centre for Innovation will support both entrepreneurs and manufacturing companies to create new products that use composite materials.
Dr. David Ross, SAIT president; Michelle Rempel, Minister of State, Western Economic Diversification; and Wild Rose MP Blake Richards were on hand for the facility’s unveiling and spoke about its value.
“The opportunity for SAIT students and faculty to carry out work with industry partners in a facility like this provides our graduates with a strong advantage heading into the workforce,” said Ross.
Richards said he was glad to see the facility up and running and was thankful that Airdrie was chosen as the location.
“In terms of growth for Airdrie this is a big step,” said Richards. “To have a facility of this magnitude here, it gives us the ability to attract and retain a young workforce to this city.”
The $25-million SAIT-AIM Centre houses machining systems, milling, grinding and lathe equipment, as well as injection molding and rapid prototype machines. Many of the machines within the facility were made possible through a $3.5-million investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
“Our government is committed to advancing Canada’s innovation ecosystem, while creating high-value jobs that contribute to the long-term economic growth of our country,” said Rempel. “Our investment in the SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation ensures businesses and students have the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to thrive in today’s western Canadian manufacturing sector.”
Rempel went on to explain that the economic diversification in southern Alberta over the past 10 years has been, “unbelievable” and the centre is another step towards further growth and diversification.
“We’re leveraging our strengths of the innovators we have in this province,” she said. “A lot of the products and services provided by this facility will help grow our existing economy; this will add strength to our medium and smaller enterprises.”
Inside the facility is a wide variety of manufacturing machines that will be used to not only develop new and innovative products, but also replace conventional materials with lighter, stronger and more cost-effective solutions. Composite materials produced at the SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation can be used to produce a variety of products from sporting goods to automobile parts.
“Since our partnership with SAIT and the development of the Centre, we have introduced several companies to composite materials that have improved designs and products in many fields,” said Brett Darichuk, general manager of AIM. “The Centre has seen more than 40 innovators in the last year that have started the process of developing and manufacturing products for this global market.”
The building located at 2927 Kingsview Blvd. SE has been operational since December 2013.