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UWinnipeg and Cisco plan to commercialize research

A new commercial research centre at the University of Winnipeg intends to build a bridge between academia and business, which may stimulate economic activity in Manitoba further down the road.

The Commercialization Research and Education Alliance for Science, Technology and the Environment (UWin CREATE) will be part of the university's new Science Complex and Richardson College for the Environment scheduled to open in the spring of 2011.

UWin CREATE will house a number of labs fitted out for researchers to test their ideas and include advisory services to help the researchers take their ideas to the prototype stage, explained Richard Nakoneczny, CTO of the University of Winnipeg. “We've been talking about it as a technology realization centre,” he said.”

Research will focus on environmental technologies and the impact technology can have on reducing the environmental footprint, but there are no plans to limit the kind of research that will take place, said Nakoneczny. “We want to open this up and get as much thought going as possible,” he said.

Nakoneczny expects the centre will cause “quite a growth spurt in intellectual property” and fully anticipates new patents, licensing and arrangements on new products as a result. UWin CREATE “will basically jumpstart the whole scientific research community within the university,” he said.

Building a bridge between the academic and commercial worlds is increasingly important, according to Nakoneczny. “There are an awful lot of really great ideas percolating through the university community and we want to get them out into the hands of organizations and enterprises that can put them into mass use,” he said.

UWin CREATE is receiving $7 million in federal and provincial funding from the Canada-Manitoba Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA) for the creation of 34 research and teaching labs, an additional $2 million from the province through the Manitoba Research Innovation Fund and a $2-million endowment from Cisco Systems Inc. for a Cisco Chair for Collaborative Technologies.

Cisco is also establishing a Cisco Innovation Centre at UWin CREATE, which will include Cisco's TelePresence virtual meeting system (with two endpoints on UWinnipeg's campus) as well as a wide range of Cisco unified communication and collaboration technologies including WebEx Connect.

“This is the first innovation centre of its kind in Canada,” said Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada. “We are really proud of this project and we are really looking forward to what this innovation centre will yield and the kind of research that will come out of our chair in innovation and collaboration technologies.”

Cisco will remain actively involved in the centre, he explained, by tying the work being done at the university with its business units and looking at how the technologies can be leveraged in various vertical markets, education and government.

“We are going to let them spread their wings and do their research with the research chair, but tie it back to our business units,” said Kawale.

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