Surrey, BC-based Simon Fraser University today received nearly $13 million in funding from the federal government to help grow its student entrepreneurship and cleantech programming.
“Today’s investment…builds on our competitive advantages and will result in game-changing technologies.”
The funding came Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), the federal government’s regional development agency (RDA) for Western Canada. WD is part of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development portfolio, led by Minister Navdeep Bains. The $3 million will go towards two separate initiatives at the university.
“Growing a culture of innovation means investing in high quality facilities, supporting cross-sector partnerships, and expanding access to learning opportunities,” said Randeep Sarai, member of parliament for Surrey Centre. “Today’s investment in two important programs at Simon Fraser University builds on our competitive advantages and will result in game-changing technologies and commercial ventures that benefit all Canadians.”
WD is providing $1.95 million to the university’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection and the Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship (CIE) to help them deliver programs to entrepreneurs and innovators. Launched in 2016, CIE is the university’s entrepreneurship program with undergraduate and graduate programs. Venture Connection is Simon Fraser’s program for early-stage ventures, offering incubation, mentorship, office space, and other resources. Founded in 2008, the hub operates across the university’s three campuses, working with current and graduated Simon Fraser students as well as staff and faculty across its programs.
With the federal capital, Venture Connection will expand its youth entrepreneurship program to “underrepresented faculties”, increase industry engagement to get students working on pressing industry challenges, as well as work to turn more academic research into commercial ventures by expanding the university’s Invention to Innovation (i2I) commercialization program. The funding is also meant to increase work in areas like health, environmentally sustainable innovation, and creative and digital innovation, as well as put increased emphasis on diversity.
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The remaining portion of the $3 million is going towards the university’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering and the newly founded School of Sustainable Energy Engineering. Working in conjunction the two faculties will use the $1,046,013 to establish an “experimental research facility to prototype clean technology solutions for the aerospace industry.” The facility will work to foster partnerships between academics and industry players in order to develop projects like lightweight hydrogen storage and fuel cell power systems for zero-emission, as well as long-range, unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Emission reductions in the aerospace sector are a major challenge for the global clean energy transition,” said Erik Kjeang Canada research chair in fuel cell science and technology development and associate professor at Simon Fraser. “Our aim is to contribute new technology…we are very grateful for the support provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada which enables prototyping and experimental testing of these new technologies.”
Image courtesy Simon Fraser University via Twitter