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City supports Selkirk bid for federal-funded technology access centre

Ten colleges in Canada have been invited to the full proposal, with six of the 10 colleges to be funded when the centres launch in spring of 2020.

The technology sector in the region could be receiving a boost.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has invited Selkirk College to submit an application for a Technology Access Centre (TAC).

Only 10 colleges in Canada have been invited to the full proposal, with six of the 10 colleges to be funded when the centres launch in spring of 2020.

To support their proposal, city council has provided a letter of support and a commitment to provide annual in-kind contributions of $5,000 over the next five years (a total of $25,000 of in-kind support).

Once the centre is operational, college faculty and students will work alongside industry partners “to solve real world challenges through class projects, capstone projects, co-op placements, and applied research internships.”

According to college literature, “industry partners will benefit from an array of services that will act as a catalyst for the growth of advanced manufacturing companies in the region – including applied research, pre-commercialization, 3D printing services, advanced prototyping, fitness for service testing, forensic engineering, product design and development, market research, technical and business expertise, customized training, and grant proposal development.”

The technology centre could allow for a dedicated space to house Selkirk’s research infrastructure (valued at $1.6 million), in a space located in the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology’s (KAST) MIDAS Fab Lab. As well, Selkirk’s Applied Research and Innovation Centre (ARIC) in Castlegar, the Trail campus and the Silver King campus in Nelson will also provide dedicated space.

The centre would help support existing college research projects, including two multi-million dollar programs that deal with applied research: one focused on innovation in forestry and another dealing with innovation in advanced manufacturing.

If the application is successful, the grant would provide $1.75 million in funding — providing up to $350,000 per year — to help companies to:

  • conduct research and development projects focused on company problems;
  • offer specialized technical services and advice; and
  • provide companies with training related to new types of equipment.

Further, it is anticipated new training and curriculum will be developed.

TAC grants are awarded for five years and are renewable each year in support of the core operations of the centre.

What is a TAC?

A TAC is a centre affiliated with a Canadian college that provides access to specialized technology, equipment, and expertise to local industry with the goal of enhancing their productivity and innovation — particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.

Currently, there are over 30 such centres enabling innovation in Canada from coast to coast.

Using some TAC

Canadian enterprises are helped by a technology access centre advance their products, processes and services by doing the following:

  • conducting research and development projects focused on company problems;
  • offering specialized technical services and advice;
  • providing companies with training related to new types of equipment and processes; and
  • connecting companies with additional sources of advice, service, expertise and funding.

Relevant programs include:

  • business administration;
  • university sciences;
  • digital arts,
  • forest technology;
  • geographic information systems;
  • integrated environmental planning;
  • digital fabrication and design;
  • web development; and
  • industry and trades training.

— Source: Selkirk College