Innovation and collaboration are the driving forces behind two major projects in Winnipeg’s growing technology hubs. The Exchange District and the University of Manitoba Smartpark, already home to cutting-edge research and technology companies, are a logical choice for new world-class facilities that will bring together entrepreneurs, researchers and post-secondary students.
University of Manitoba Smartpark Innovation Hub
The U of M Smartpark Innovation Hub officially opened June 26 as part of the research and technology park on the Fort Garry campus. The modern 72,000 sq. ft. facility is designed with plenty of open space for university staff and students to strike up partnerships with tenants such as Bold Commerce and North Forge Technology Exchange.
“This space really provides us with a new tool to use in generating more value from research and in growing the economy in Winnipeg, Manitoba and the country,” said Dr. David Barnard, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba. “The relationships and partnerships this space will foster will deepen our reach and relevance to the greater business community.”
Companies can rent space alongside labs to expose students to their work and future employment opportunities; the fourth floor features a “Collision Corridor” to encourage networking.
“The innovation hub is a reflection of our deep partnership and a reflection of the shared vision many years ago for economic growth and talent and to attract new entrepreneurs and business investment and keep them within Manitoba,” said Jerin Valel, a North Forge board member. “This is an important driver, we believe at North Forge, for the Manitoba innovation ecosystem. It will help facilitate greater opportunities for res, it will help with entrepreneurs to co-locate with industry in tremendous facilities like this, and it will also help with what the university referred to as meaningful collisions within the community, companies supporting companies.”
Red River College Innovation Centre
At the Red River College (RRC) Exchange District Campus, construction continues on the new Innovation Centre, which will be the first facility of its kind in Western Canada.
The centre will house RRC’s business and information technology programs, Language Training Centre, ACE (Applied Computer Education) project space and Research Partnerships & Innovation office. It will feature adaptable classrooms, collaboration spaces, student services and a 210-person auditorium.
The 100,000 sq. ft. facility on Elgin Avenue will focus on applied research, entrepreneurship and social innovation that includes specialized programs for Indigenous entrepreneurship and community economic development.
“We’re excited to be opening this new facility in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District. Location is a key part of what we’re doing; it makes collaboration and partnerships easier, it continues our work of helping to revitalize downtown Winnipeg, and it places us in the core of Winnipeg’s business and technology community,” said Paul Vogt, president and CEO of Red River College. “Our students will be learning through collaborative methods in this space – working with other programs, as well as entrepreneurs and businesses to solve real world issues. In the Innovation Centre, we’re adaptable to the way today’s students learn, and we’re excited to see what projects and solutions they create.”
RRC’s Innovation Centre is slated for completion by the end of 2020 and expects to attract an additional 1,200 students to the Exchange District Campus.
Both post-secondary projects represent a significant public and private investment in Winnipeg’s tech sector that will further solidify the city’s reputation as an innovative place to learn and do business. Winnipeg’s economy ultimately stands to benefit from these campus innovation centres, with their goals to create greater research opportunities, drive the creation of new technologies, grow the number of local tech start-ups and help attract more entrepreneurs, investors and talent to the city.
Read more about Winnipeg's growing information and communication technologies (ICT) sector.