Centre furthers innovation mission of the city

Canadian Centre for Product Validation Chief Business Officer Ben Cecil, BA’90 MA’93 PhD’00, said the new Fanshawe College-led facility, located in Advanced Manufacturing Park, alongside Western’s WindEEE Dome, Fraunhofer Institute and Collider, makes London a hub for groundbreaking and innovative technology.

Paul Mayne // Western NewsCanadian Centre for Product Validation Chief Business Officer Ben Cecil, BA’90 MA’93 PhD’00, said the new Fanshawe College-led facility, located in Advanced Manufacturing Park, alongside Western’s WindEEE Dome, Fraunhofer Institute and Collider, makes London a hub for groundbreaking and innovative technology.

From the tiniest medical devices to monstrous armoured vehicles, the launch of the Canadian Centre for Product Validation (CCPV) this past month is proof positive London is a hub for groundbreaking and innovative technology, said Ben Cecil, CCPV’s Chief Business Officer.

The Fanshawe College-led centre, located in the Advanced Manufacturing Park alongside Western’s WindEEE Dome, Fraunhofer Institute and Collider, is a $16.22-million facility showcasing multiple activities under one roof from validation testing and proof of concept, to custom-test protocols and failure analysis.

Cecil, BA’90 MA’93 PhD’00, said the facility’s ability to provide multiple tests simultaneously decreases validation time and accelerates the time to market for industry.

“It’s not just a testing facility; it is an innovation centre. If you have an idea for a new product, or an existing product and you want to improve it, we will work with you,” Cecil said. “We will go from a napkin sketch right through to commercialization.

“That’s why we’re not a test lab – we’re an innovation centre that has testing capabilities. There isn’t another one like this in the country.”

The 25,000-square-foot centre expects to work with up to 25 small- to medium-sized enterprises per year, including those operating in aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, medical and health devices, military and renewable energies.

“For many, it’s making sure the design is what they are intending their products to do and that they can actually be manufactured. We want to help them avoid all the unnecessary costs from a manufacturing standpoint, and keep driving the costs of manufacturing down by refining design,” Cecil said. “Industry told us that’s what was missing. The process was too long, too hard and arduous and causing missed windows of opportunity.”

A departure from most testing facilities is the fact industry partners have the opportunity to be present for the testing process. While others may say, ‘we’ll call you when we’re done,’ Cecil wants a side-by-side partnership from the start.

“Their ability to see the process of innovation, if they can bring that learning back to their business they will be that much better at innovating themselves,” he said. “If it sparks that design validation, that innovative mentality, it will attract more innovators to our region. By giving them the necessary supports, they will bring more products to market.”

Research shows many companies fail after just 18 months because they cannot generate enough revenue quickly enough to keep going. However, there are places in the world that are getting products to market between five and six months, Cecil said, creating the opportunity to generate revenue far quicker and, therefore, survive.

“In Canada, that brick wall hits you before you can even get the product to market and that, to industry, they’re saying, it is not acceptable,” he said. “We have to be able to compete in the global market and in order to do that this is what we need. That is where we come in. There are labs out there, they exist, and they are good at what they do, but there isn’t an innovation centre like this.”

With talk touting innovation as the future, Cecil believes the potential to do truly pioneering things can happen in London. With the presence of the research park, ongoing partnerships with Western and Fanshawe, as well as the political support of the city, what industry is looking for is “right in our own backyard,” he added.

“We have taken on projects that are challenging, perhaps ones others might walked away from. We have an eclectic critical mass of people here and that background had allowed us to take different approaches in solving common problems,” Cecil said.

While barely two months out of the starting gate, CCPV was designed with growth in mind.

“The industries we serve will continue to change. We need to support what that change is going to look like. We need to be slightly ahead of the curve,” he said. “We are listening to what they are saying, what their future looks like. CCPV’s future needs to be tied to that. We need to incorporate whatever is required in advance of their needs, so when they are ready to go we can say, ‘We can support you now.’”