University of Waterloo to open health Innovation Arena
April 19, 2023
KITCHENER, Ont. – The Ontario government is investing $7.5 million to help build a state-of-the-art Innovation Arena at the University of Waterloo. The new $35 million facility will be a hub for innovation in Ontario’s life sciences sector in Kitchener and Waterloo, supporting the development of new health technology and the commercialization of intellectual property and encouraging investment and job creation.
“The Innovation Arena will play a crucial role in expanding the impact and scope of the University of Waterloo’s flagship incubator Velocity. Waterloo continues to take a leading role in connecting research breakthroughs in nanotech, AI and quantum information to innovative health solutions. The Innovation Arena will enable the collaboration and connections among researchers, talent and healthcare practitioners while supporting innovators and entrepreneurs from start to scale,” said Dr. Vivek Goel (pictured), president and vice-chancellor, University of Waterloo.
The University of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener are partnering to build the new 90,000 square-foot Innovation Arena. The facility will include a health-tech incubator and a small business centre with a shared wet lab for local entrepreneurs and start-ups. The Innovation Arena will be become a focal point in Southwestern Ontario for innovation partnerships, collaboration among businesses, industry and researchers.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, Ontario has attracted nearly $3 billion in investments by global biomanufacturers. The new Innovation Arena will build on this success by supporting the discovery of innovative new health technologies.
“Ontario has a long history of innovation in the life sciences sector, and the Innovation Arena will help many more Ontario start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovations bring their ideas to life and to market,” said Minister Fedeli. “With this investment, we’re ensuring that Ontario remains a global leader in innovation and the life sciences sector now and for generations to come.”
“Ontario has a world-class post-secondary education system and is home to innovative start-ups and scale-up firms,” said Jill Dunlop, minister of Colleges and Universities. “By fostering collaboration among businesses, researchers, and community partners, the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena will help fast-track the discovery, development, and commercialization of made-in-Ontario research, bringing ideas from the lab to market sooner – a key part of our government’s plan to maximize the value of Ontario-grown innovation.”
The Innovation Arena supports Taking Life Sciences to the Next Level, the province’s first life sciences strategy in a decade. As part of this strategy, Ontario launched a $15 million Life Sciences Innovation Fund to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas from the lab to the marketplace. This early-stage fund, managed through the Ontario Centre of Innovation, will help companies advance made-in-Ontario solutions like vaccines and medical treatments.
The world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies by revenue (and others) conduct clinical trials in Ontario. These include Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Novartis, Merck & Co, Pfizer, Bayer, AbbVie, GSK, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi.
As well, Ontario has the third largest number of information and communications technology (ICT) establishments in North America and is home to more than 408,000 ICT workers.
Every year, more than 65,000 STEM students graduate from Ontario post-secondary institutions, producing one of the most highly skilled life sciences workforces in the world.
“Innovation in healthcare to improve the quality of life of the residents we serve is a priority for the City of Kitchener and cities around the world. That’s why City Council’s first major investment from Kitchener’s Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) 2.0 was $8.5 million towards the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena to support our growing health technology start-up and scaleup ecosystem. Today’s groundbreaking for this new facility shows what is possible when all three orders of government work together with the private, not-for-profit and academic sectors to create new local businesses and jobs, expand the local innovation ecosystem, and create an investment environment that serves as a gamechanger for Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and beyond,” said Berry Vrbanovic, mayor of Kitchener.