A pair of Western facilities currently under construction received a $45-million shot in the arm earlier today thanks to the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, a $2-billion federal investment fund seeking to create state-of-the-art facilities on Canadian campuses. Western will match the contribution bringing the total investment to $90 million.
“Here we have a world-class university that takes research seriously. But at the federal level we have an obligation to move that agenda forward,” said Peter Fragiskatos, MP-London North Centre, who made the announcement this morning at the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion. “Government cannot do everything by itself; universities cannot do everything by themselves. We have to talk about collaboration; we have to talk about partnership.
“This is an investment fund. We know Canada cannot move forward unless we focus on innovation. But we need state-of-the-art facilities that allow for that innovation to take place. There is a difference between expenses and investments – expenses do not yield returns, investments always do.”
The funding will support the university’s construction of both the Western Interdisciplinary Research Building and The Three C+ Innovation Centre.
The Western Interdisciplinary Research Building is a new facility university planners envision as a focal point for leading-edge research. Located on the current Visual Arts Parking Lot off Perth Drive, the 130,000-square-foot facility will serve as the new home for the Research Cluster for Cognitive Neuroscience, which will include the Brain & Mind Institute, and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, as well as provide five mixed-use general classroom spaces. Approximately 25,000 square feet over two floors will be unfinished to accommodate future research related space needs.
Informally referred to as Three C+ (Connect, Collaborate and Create) Innovation Centre, this 100,000-square-foot building will transform how the university delivers Engineering education. Starting from the first year, the new building will provide practical working spaces and be an inspiring environment where students will integrate classroom theory with collaborative hands-on learning as they design, build, test and refine their concepts. Located along Western Road, the building looks to secure a LEED Platinum certification; if successful, Western’s building would be the third university teaching/research building in Canada to achieve that level.
Each facility will receive $22.5 million.
“There are certain things we can do as leaders, as administrators to make it easier for people to come together. That is through facilities,” said Western President Amit Chakma. “When you bring people together, those discipline barriers, those cultural barriers disappear when people discover there is so much commonality in them. These two projects are part of our strategic plan, are part of our mission, are part of our desire to make an impact on the broader society in London, in Canada and beyond. Most institutions struggle in bringing people together. Those who are successful in doing so will be the leaders of tomorrow.”
The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is a time-limited program that will
provide up to $2 billion over the next three years to accelerate infrastructure projects at universities and colleges across Canada. The total contribution from federal sources will cover up to half of a project’s eligible costs, leveraging the remaining amount from non-federal partners.
Earlier this month, Fragiskatos joined Kate Young, MP-London West, at Robarts Research Institute, where members of the London and Western communities gathered to celebrate a $66-million Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant – the largest research grant in the university’s history – supporting the BrainsCAN: Brain Health For Life initiative.
Fragiskatos nodded to the timing and credited a new direction for the federal government.
“The federal government is taking research and innovation seriously – and respecting science, by the way. The war on science is over. We have to allow scientists to do their work,” he said. “As a former academic, I believe in the need, the importance, the necessity to foster the kind of collaboration that brings people together. Philosophers talking to cognitive neuroscientists; engineers talking to business faculty; students being involved in the process. All of that is absolutely critical.”