Technology centre spreads its wings
Space is filling up quickly in the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology’s (NORCAT) new Sudbury facility.
Businesses began moving into the new building, constructed just up the road from its former location at Cambrian College, during the winter months while the finishing touches were being completed.
The $10.6 million project received government and private funding to consolidate and create a larger incubator space for SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) to research, develop and innovate.
Since 1995, NORCAT has provided and fostered an environment for innovation, research and development where like-minded people can share expertise and experiences. It also allows a period of certainty for SMEs to build their business or develop a product without extensive overhead and operational constraints.
“We provide technical advice and space to create the synergy and networking of people engaging in similar business ventures,” said Norm Lavallee, NORCAT’s chief operating officer. “Even if it appears these businesses don’t have anything in common, they find commonality and solutions.”
Dura 21 moved into a 1,200-square foot shop space in February. The Niagara Falls-based company has developed a process called Duragenics, a proprietary technology that uses advanced cryogenics to increase the durability and safety of metal machine parts. Dave Dillon, co-owner and director of research and business development, is currently developing the process for high-wear items used in the mining industry.
“NORCAT offers us a tremendous networking capability that we would otherwise not have, such as links to scientific data exchanges,” explained Dillon. “That will enable us to take our company further and faster – something we would not have been able to do without the support of NORCAT.” As Sudbury is a fairly new market for Dura 21, the company has been adapting its
process for different types of mining tools, the environment in which they are used, and their applications.
“We’re going to put in a test lab and perform accelerated-wear testing on parts in a controlled environment to produce more clinical results,” he said.
The 60,000-square foot building hosts 50,000 square feet on its main level, of which 16,600 square feet is shop space. A smaller mezzanine-like upper level is a combination of office and meeting rooms. Large picture windows promote an airy, bright atmosphere.
“It is exciting to see it come to fruition,” said Lavallee, happy to see NORCAT’s administration, training centre and prototype development department under one roof.
Previously, the not-for-profit company worked out of 40,000 square feet within Cambrian College’s walls and its training centre was downtown. After about 11 years, it outgrew its space, and that spurred on funding proposals for a new centre.
The centre is modelled after an
innovative park in Waterloo, Ontario, with workstations set up in an open-concept room to promote networking and sharing.
“It is a space for soft innovations, like IT or design,” said Lavallee.
Three pods of 1,000 square feet each were built to host “softer” type developments. As many as four meeting rooms of varying sizes are available for clients to liaise with prospective investors or customers, providing a professional environment.
The flexibility that was incorporated into the shop area means the space can vary in size, depending on the client’s needs. Internet capabilities are identical to any research or post-secondary institution in Ontario and the power capacity is such that any piece of equipment used in a mine can be run at NORCAT for testing.
Automated building security using codes and fingerprint locks have eliminated the need for keys and has allowed greater
independence for those renting the space.
The centre has opened doors to new clients, both from within and outside of Sudbury, creating a healthy mix of
tenants at varying stages of development and enhancing the potential synergy and mentorship opportunities.
Tagged Cambrian College, Canada, Darryl Lake, Dave Dillon, Greater Sudbury, Niagara Falls, NORCAT, Norm Lavallee, Northern Centre for Advanced Technology, Northern Ontario, Northern Ontario Business, Ontario, Sudbury, workstation