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This article was published 4/7/2011 (3376 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE Composites Innovation Centre is moving into space almost four times the size of its current location.
The move to larger accommodations is a result of the success the advanced materials research operation has been enjoying for several years.
It will leave its 6,000-square-foot building at the University of Manitoba's Smartpark and move into a 21,000-square-foot location at Tuxedo Business Park in southwest Winnipeg by the end of this year.
Since it was formed in 2003, the CIC has grown to become the largest composites research facility in the country, larger even than the National Research Council's.
For the past few years, the centre has become so busy it was forced to lease satellite space and at one time had to house equipment in a trailer.
Sean McKay, the CIC's executive director, said Monday growing interest in bio-materials and traditional composites for the aerospace industry has kept the centre busy with a growing number of projects.
The CIC was the driving force behind and the co-ordinator of Canadian Composites Manufacturing R&D Inc. (CCMRD), an aerospace industry-focused pre-competitive research consortium, and also plays a similar role in the operation of a bio-fibres initiative.
"Bio-fibres is definitely a growing area of work for us," said McKay.
McKay said the CIC is becoming world-renowned for its work in the development and commercialization of naturally occurring materials in composite structures.
For instance, the CIC is working on the design and analysis of several parts going into an electric vehicle called the Kestrel that is being developed in Calgary by Motive Industries.
At the recent 2011 Bio International Convention in Washington, D.C., the Manitoba booth featured a motorcycle called the EcoCycle, developed by Chopper College in Minnesota, incorporating parts made with hemp-based bio-fibres developed at the CIC.
The vehicle had a gas tank and fender made using hybrid fibreglass/bio-materials composites.
On the aerospace front, the consortium that was formed a year ago has grown to 10 members, including Bell Helicopter, Bristol Aerospace, Cormer Group Industries Inc. and Boeing Canada Technology Winnipeg division. Boeing's U.S.-based research and technology division sits on the board and is an active participant.
In addition to allowing room for all of its equipment, McKay said he expects staff at the centre to grow to 30 from the current 22 by the beginning of 2013.
"The new space will mean we'll have room for training in partnership with Red River College and the U of M," McKay said.
Terracon Development Ltd., which developed and manages the Tuxedo Business Park, is building and leasing the new facility to CIC.
Michael Falk, Terracon's development manager, said the CIC is an ideal fit for that development. Its tenant mix includes engineering firms such as AECOM and SNC Lavalin, Intelligent Hospital Systems and Ag Growth International.
"This is a U.S.-style business park with mixed-use retail, commercial, office, light industrial and R&D activities. The big buzz word is flex-space."
The CIC is primarily funded by the provincial and federal governments through the Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA).
In the fall of 2009, it received commitments for $11.6 million worth of funding through 2013 from WEPA, double what it had been receiving.
In the meantime, it has developed several alternative sources of revenue, including fees to manage the research consortia it has helped form.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
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