Federal minister Navdeep Bains meets BDDC personnel upon arriving on U of G campus Friday morning.

The University of Guelph today celebrated $66.6-million worth of research and innovation enhancements during a campus visit by Navdeep Bains, federal minister of innovation, science and economic development.

Bains was on campus to mark the completion and/or opening of six major U of G projects that received more than $26 million support in 2016 from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (PSI-SIF). The remaining funding was provided by the University and provincial government.

“These projects will ensure that University of Guelph researchers, teachers and students have state-of-the-art facilities needed to enable the continued learning and discovery that this institution is recognized for,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino.

“This kind of funding support is critical for us to maintain our standing as one of the top comprehensive and research-intensive universities in Canada, where we’re also known for innovation and student-centred learning.”

Minister Bains speaks of federal investments in U of G research facilities as Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield and U of G president Franco Vaccarino listen.

The projects include new innovations that will replace plastics with bio-based materials, upgrading chemistry teaching labs and creating new study and meeting spaces in the McLaughlin Library.

“Infrastructure upgrades are a critical part in supporting skills development to prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Bains said.

“Our government’s investment in the University of Guelph will help students, teachers and researchers work in some of the best facilities in the country, advancing the next generation of leading-edge innovation in Canada.”

Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph, added: “These investments in infrastructure at the University of Guelph foster creative spaces for research and innovation that will benefit not only those in Guelph, but across all of Canada.”

During Friday’s visit, Bains and Longfield toured the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC). The centre received $1.8 million in 2016 from the federal government to help build a $7.1-million bio-carbon innovation and commercialization facility.

Bio-carbon research involves making plastics from engineered green composites and studying their use in sustainable manufacturing, particularly the development of innovative lightweight auto parts. Commercialization of bio-carbon-based green composites is expected to account for about five per cent of the current $88-billion automotive sector within the next five years and create about 6,000 direct manufacturing jobs.

The bio-carbon facility is the latest addition to the BDDC, which opened in 2008. It brings together researchers to explore uses for plant-based materials in consumer products. BDDC scientists aim to reduce the use of non-renewable, petroleum-based plastics.

Other PSI-SIF projects celebrated Friday are:

  • A biosafety level 2 production animal research isolation unit. U of G currently has the only facility in Ontario for housing production animals for infectious disease research. The new facility will allow additional research and training and improve researchers’ ability to identify and prevent threatening infectious diseases;
  • A food innovation centre to accelerate research and innovation, foster industry partnerships and expand food manufacturing training;
  • Expansions and renovations in U of G’s Library, including an innovative digital scholarship centre; new spaces for archives, special collections and reading rooms; a state-of-the-art media lab; and building upgrades;
  • Renewal and renovation of research spaces in the MacNaughton Building, home to the departments of Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics; and
  • New research and collaborative spaces for computer science and engineering students and faculty in the Reynolds Building.