Trudeau on hand to open NAIT’s new Productivity and Innovation Centre

Ottawa contributes $34.9 million for project

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially opened NAIT’s newest facility Wednesday, the state-of-the-art Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC).

Built with a $34.9-million contribution from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, PIC is NAIT’s front door for industry, bringing together the polytechnic’s diverse services and solutions for business.

“The thing about innovation is that it doesn’t just make our lives better today, it also creates a better tomorrow.”

“I knew that [the investment] would produce great results. Today, that’s clearly the case,” said Trudeau, standing in the centre of PIC’s research wing, a huge collaborative workspace flanked by labs. “The thing about innovation is that it doesn’t just make our lives better today, it also creates a better tomorrow,” he added.

PIC provides services to help make industry more productive and competitive, including:

  • introducing new technologies to business
  • imagining, developing and testing new products and improving existing ones
  • developing applied research solutions for issues facing industry
  • assessing and improving business practices
  • providing workforce education, with a focus on productivity
  • hosting conferences and events

“The Productivity and Innovation Centre is the place industry and business will come for solutions and to succeed,” said Glenn Feltham, NAIT’s president and CEO. “This facility will make a deep and lasting impact on Edmonton, on Alberta and Canada.”

Trudeau toured the facility and was guided through a couple of experiments with researchers from NAIT’s Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability (COSS), one of the research centres housed in the building.

Heather Kaminsky, COSS’s lead mining researcher, demonstrated a settling test with Trudeau, in which water is separated from the tailings produced by the oil sands extraction process, allowing the water to be reused. They also did a methylene blue index, which determines the clay content in tailings.

Justin Trudeau touring PIC at NAIT

The centre’s new lab in PIC will allow Kaminsky and her colleagues to do some of the larger-scale testing needed to translate lab findings to an industrial scale. It will also help them collaborate more easily with other researchers and with industry.

PIC is one of North America’s largest innovation spaces. Construction on the 17,650-square-metre building took 18 months to complete.

Feltham said NAIT has an important historic and emerging role in supporting industry competitiveness and success. “Central to our vision is NAIT’s relationship with industry and business – fundamentally, one of partnership.”

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