The University of Waterloo has announced plans to launch an innovation centre that will focus on health innovation and medical technology with new facilities for the Waterloo startup community. Dubbed the “Innovation Arena” – a preliminary name that could change in coming years – the new 90,000 square foot centre will include a wet lab for chemical/materials science, four biosafety labs and product development space.
This is a significant new step for a university that is known for its tech credentials, including a recent rating as Canada’s top computer science, engineering and mathematics school.
The building housing the new health technology centre, a former warehouse, will also become the new home of Velocity – Canada’s most productive tech incubator. Velocity currently has wet lab facilities and support from companies like PerkinElmer, but the new location will mean a significant increase to its existing 36,000 square feet of useable space.
The plans for this new centre were announced in late-October and are dependent on support from municipal partners. The City of Kitchener – the largest urban community in Waterloo Region and the site of the new centre – confirmed its intent to provide $8.5 million in support earlier this week. The University of Waterloo has also released a preliminary design concept for the new centre (above) that illustrates one possible approach to renovating the existing warehouse building.
“This opportunity to develop our Health Sciences Campus represents a significant milestone not just for the University of Waterloo and Velocity, but for the city and region,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, University of Waterloo’s president, in a recent Waterloo Region Record article. “Together, we are expanding our contribution to one of the global economy’s most important sectors.”
This new centre joins a bustling part of Waterloo Region known as the “Innovation District,” which includes Google’s expanding Canadian engineering headquarters, unicorn retail innovator Faire and existing health-focused University of Waterloo and McMaster University health campuses.
The area has also seen billions of dollars in new investment – including residential and commercial space – paired with a new light rail transit system.
The University of Waterloo facility will open in 2023.
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