October 14, 2014 - 2:28 PM
KELOWNA – The federal government announced Tuesday a multi-million dollar grant to start a UBCO program that will research and develop new technologies for both military and civilian applications.
Minister of State Michelle Rempel says the $3.8 million in funding for the Survive and Thrive Applied Research facility is an important part of creating a robust and diverse economy as well as encouraging young talent to come to the Okanagan.
“I’m blown away with the breadth of industries that are emerging (in Kelowna),” she says. “When it comes to economic diversification, innovation is key.”
The program plans to study a diverse array of equipment, including protective equipment like helmets and pads, vehicle armour, secure communication and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Rempel says the research will also be used for other applications, such as agriculture, recreation, athletics and biomedicine.
“That means using advanced technology, students and people who have expertise in this area to come up with new technologies and new innovations in order to participate in the very lucrative field of defense and aerospace industries.”
The program was spearheaded by UBCO deputy vice-chancellor Deborah Buszard, who says three labs will be set up in the Engineering, Management and Education Building by the end of the fall.
“STAR is very special,” she says. “It is a place of intentional innovation where industry and researchers with big ideas can pool their knowledge, experience and expertise to rapidly accelerate the route to market for novel technologies and innovative products. It’s going to give our community a window to global markets. It’s going to lead to the next generation of protective equipment for men and women serving in conflict areas around the world as well as in other front line roles such as police, fire and search and rescue first responders.”
Under development right now is a hi-tech helmet made of a new impact-resistant material called Armourgel that could help reduce concussions in contact sports and other fields.
“With the helmet project, STAR has brought together international players… to develop an innovative product that will reach global markets that will help to reduce injuries and will use novel materials developed and applied here at UBCO.”
CEO of Helios Global Technologies says their ability to collaborate with STAR will greatly enhance their capacity to develop new products.
“It gives us access to world class research that helps us to quickly prove out concepts and explore multi-sectorial applications, and also access to funding through our research partnerships,” he says. “Simply put, STAR enables us to do much more than we ever could on our own.”
A digital 3D printer at UBCO's new Survive and Thrive Applied Research facility.
(ADAM PROSKIW /InfoTel Multimedia)
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