U of C creating innovation hub to drive economic diversification

The school said the research park will create 6,300 direct jobs over 20 years, including 4,500 private sector jobs

Mario ToneguzziThe University of Calgary continues to move to become a catalyst to drive innovation and economic diversification in the city.

It has acquired the former Shell Technology Centre Calgary and will turn it into the Life Sciences Innovation Hub in early 2019.

“As one of Canada’s leading research institutions, the University of Calgary is a key contributor to the innovation ecosystem in our community,” said Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary, in a statement.

“This acquisition is a critical next step in our vision for a revitalized University Research Park. It also reinforces our commitment to fostering the next generation of talented thought leaders through innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.”

The new innovation hub will be located in University Park and will be a centre for research excellence and innovation. It will build and grow the promising life sciences sector of the Calgary economy, said the U of C. It will be used by students, researchers, startups and companies to interact, create and explore new ideas and concepts, as well as provide dedicated wet lab and office space for companies that are developing and growing.

“We are delighted to enable the creation of the Life Sciences Innovation Hub for the University of Calgary through the sale and in-kind gift of our Shell Technology Centre Calgary (STCC),” said Michael Crothers, president and country chairof Shell Canada. “For more than 30 years, our teams at the site led energy sector innovation and it’s fitting that the building’s legacy of spurring innovation in Alberta will continue as part of UCalgary. Shell will continue pursuing research and development activities right here in Canada from our operating sites and with third parties.”

Recently the U of C announced it had acquired 76 acres of land and three buildings from the province to support the creation of a new innovation and research cluster at the University Research Park. The school said the move will drive innovation and economic diversification, as well as create high-quality jobs.

“Innovative ideas are being cultivated regularly at the University of Calgary and are being translated to new companies through the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, the Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies and Innovate Calgary,” said Cannon. “University Research Park will provide an excellent platform to further innovation and company growth, create new employment opportunities and help the economic diversification of our community.”

The university said the transfer of the land and buildings will support the creation of a new innovation and research cluster and “help establish a space equipped to drive innovation and entrepreneurial thinking in the Calgary region.”

The U of C said the research park will create 6,300 direct jobs over 20 years, including 4,500 private sector jobs, with the remaining comprised of technical staff for sponsored UCalgary research. Jobs created at URP will mainly be in the subsectors of biomed, energy tech, and other fields distinct from downtown Calgary’s primary employment sectors, enabling the attraction of new talent in diverse industries, it said.

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