Secretive University of Western Ontario Project Likely to Get City Land

March 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Why does it have to be so secretive? I truly hope it’s better than UWO’s $8-million “TOP SECRET” CURLING research. What a joke.

A facility billed as unlike any other on the planet will be built in London if city council agrees to give land to the University of Western Ontario. “This will be the only facility of its kind in the world,” Ted Hewitt, vice-president of research at UWO, said Wednesday. Hewitt wouldn’t disclose specifics about the project that an official last year said would cost $25 million.

But Hewitt didn’t need details to get the support of politicians who’ve already endorsed giving land to UWO and Fanshawe College to lure advanced manufacturing to an industrial park. The joint venture seems certain to gain approval when city council meets Monday. Politicians unanimously endorsed the concept in November and the board of control gushed over it Wednesday.

The targeted site near Hwy. 401 in southeast London is the last major piece of land at Innovation Park, northwest of Bradley Ave. and Veterans Memorial Parkway. Of 52 hectares there, the city would give 10 to UWO and four to Fanshawe.

Western is seeking money to lure a German company and the research arm of the German government to build equipment that will make composite parts in a manner so advanced that there’s only one similar facility in North America. Fraunhofer is a German research organization with 59 institutes spread throughout that country, an organization Hewitt describes as “(Canada’s) National Research Council on steroids.”

Fraunhofer is teaming with German engineering company Dieffenbacher to build a composite press that Hewitt says will make parts out of silica faster and cheaper than all but one facility on the continent. The German partnership had been looking for a second facility in the United States but now is interested in London, where Western has tapped into one-quarter of the roughly $12 million needed to build the plant.

The building of both facilities would use up four of Western’s 10 hectares. Western also hopes to develop a centre for advanced manufacturing that could be a hub for smaller manufacturers. In the terms of the proposed deal between city hall and Western and Fanshawe, if either school sells land, the proceeds go to the city; if either fails to significantly develop the land in 10 years, the city can take it back.

Source: LFPress.com

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