UW Kitchener is partnering with the city of Kitchener to open a 90,000 square-foot health innovation and medical technology centre.
In November, 2020, Kitchener city councillors voted 6-2 to approve $8.5 million in funding to support the development of the facility.
The councillors called the centre a “fantastic” opportunity that would help bring investments and competitive jobs to Kitchener.
The $8.5 million contribution will come from the city’s new $110 million economic development fund, which was launched to stimulate Kitchener’s economic recovery from the pandemic and spur economic growth over the next decade.
Two councillors voted against the proposal, noting that it’s not the city’s job to support the university, adding that Kitchener is facing financial demands as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is an investment where a significant return is expected,” Feridun Hamdullaphur, President and Vice-Chancellor of UW, said. “I’m hoping it will be seen as a major economic development opportunity.” Hamdullaphur also clarified that the city’s money would not be used to support UW’s academic work.
UW is contributing $11.5 million to the project, and will also provide the $1.8 million yearly operating costs. As part of the partnership, the university will be leasing 5,000 feet of the facility to the city for $1. This space will be used by the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre to support health and medtech companies growing their business. Velocity, UW’s startup incubator, will also be housed in the centre.
Brian Bennett, manager of business development for Kitchener, said the centre could incubate more than 50 startups in its first five years and support the scaling of another 50 medtech firms. These companies could bring hundreds of new jobs. UW is working with both the provincial and federal governments to fund the last $15 million needed to cover the centre’s $35 million capital cost. The facility is set to open in 2023.