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September 24, 2007

The removal of outdated boiler infrastructure marks the beginning of building a major bioindustrial research centre in Sarnia on the site of the former Dow Chemical Canada research and development laboratory.

UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO SARNIA-LAMBTON RESEARCH PARK

The removal of outdated boiler infrastructure marks the beginning of building a major bioindustrial research centre in Sarnia on the site of the former Dow Chemical Canada research and development laboratory.

Innovation

Renovated research site in Sarnia to be future home of Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Centre

SARNIA, ON

Development of a specialized research centre in Sarnia is underway, thanks in part to a recent provincial announcement of $10 million towards the project.

But those behind the newly minted Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Centre estimate it’s going to take $25 million to complete the facility, to be located in part in the former Dow Chemical Canada research and development laboratory on the grounds of the University of Western Ontario’s 80-acre Sarnia-Lambton research park.

The London-based architectural firm Malhotra Nicholson Architects Inc., is involved in developing a master plan for the project, which includes renovating the existing 60,000-square-foot building to accommodate a range of occupants as well as adding 60,000 square feet of new facilities.

“We’re not just trying to build a business park in the traditional sense,” said Joel Adams, a University of Western Ontario Research and Development Parks spokesperson.

“It’s a centre that can act as a community hub to bring people together.”

The goal is to attract large-scale plant investments to the region with a target of generating $1 billion in investment over the next seven years.

In particular, the facility will offer companies and researchers an opportunity to commercialize their research in the area of helping the existing petrochemical industry develop more renewable sources for fuels and chemicals.

That may well involve establishing pilot plants, something the existing facility is especially suited to house because of its large amount of high bay two-story space, Adams said.

Tenants will also be able to share meeting rooms, laboratories as well as other common areas. Renovations have begun and to date work has focused on replacing outdated boiler infrastructure.

Local providers are being used to do this work and Adams said future work would be contracted out as well. He estimated it would take two years to renovate the existing facility and build the new space.

So far, the greatest challenge has been to transform a facility intended for one tenant into one that can support several different occupants and activities.

Sustainable building principles are being used to not only reflect the centre’s innovative purpose but also help achieve greater operation efficiencies, Adams said.

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