Students of UBCO are soon to be introduced to a brand new part of campus - the Innovation Precinct. This Precinct will encourage research and research collaborations within the community, generate creative and thoughtful ideas, and provide unique opportunities for communities within the Okanagan.
The first building currently being constructed in this Precinct, called Building One, will be located on 1540 Innovation Drive which contains a 1.36-acre land parcel with approximately 24,400 sq. ft. being dedicated to research space. This space will be utilized as a “living lab” to help grow and develop regional opportunities in addition to tackling real-world problems, creating training opportunities and new knowledge. Furthermore, this space will include fine arts studios, shared collaborative space, and engineering research laboratories.
The Innovation Precinct is being constructed with funding provided by the Government of Canada. UBCO had received $1.9 million from the government for help in creating this new innovative space. The federal government maintains that it is very crucial to support Canadian universities in their goals for research and development which will benefit communities across Canada. This space is also meant to create many job opportunities which will prioritize students.
In a statement made by Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development, she said “What we want to do is make sure the great research that is being done at the universities can also be transformed into commercial possibilities and jobs.”
In addition to providing job opportunities, the federal government provided funding to UBCO to develop an innovative hub that will promote clean and sustainable technologies. UBCO will begin by focusing on converting waste materials into usable products. For example, the university will be researching how industrial waste can gain a second-life as high-quality carbon products. To accomplish this, UBCO will be working in collaboration with mining and lumber companies in Western Canada to conduct this research. Not only is this innovation hub beneficial for environmental sustainability, which is a very pressing need in the world today, but it also provides many economic benefits for UBCO students.
The opportunities and benefits this hub offers are outlined by Joly in the following statement, "I believe in the power of innovation and creativity as positive forces that can be harnessed to tackle economic and environmental challenges. By promoting a sustainable future and a thriving economy, the University of British Columbia Okanagan is aligning this project with the priorities of the Government of Canada. Together, we are showing our commitment to a country that provides opportunities and economic benefits to Canadians, while also ensuring the development of technologies that will lead to a cleaner, greener environment for future generations."
The first building in the Innovation Precinct is scheduled for completion in Spring 2021.