Ryan Gilleran, Douglas Kneale, Jeff BerrymanRyan Gilleran, an application engineer with ANSYS, demonstrates a virtual reality cave to UWindsor provost Douglas Kneale and associate vice-president academic Jeff Berryman at a $5 million funding announcement for automotive innovation in Windsor-Essex.

Feds make $5 million local investment in mobility innovation

The University of Windsor will help the region become a leader in mobility innovation thanks to a $5 million investment announced Friday.

Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and a UWindsor alumnus (LLB 2001), made the announcement at the Institute for Border Logistics Security. The funding is an investment by FedDev Ontario, a federal agency that supports innovation and economic growth in southern Ontario.

“Economic diversification and growth are what keeps our communities strong and resilient,” Mendicino said. “Windsor-Essex is an integral region for economic development, trade and partnerships, and collaboration on this exciting new initiative is key to the region seizing new opportunities afforded by the innovation economy.”

The funding will grow the automobility innovation cluster in Windsor-Essex with a focus on connected, autonomous, shared, and electric vehicles. The WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation will partner with the University of Windsor, including UWindsor’s Cross-Border Institute, to help Canadian firms better integrate with international supply chains.

“Universities and colleges increasingly play an important role in community economic development and diversification through market-relevant research, teaching, and community engagement,” said UWindsor president Robert Gordon.

“The University of Windsor is proud to be part of this announcement and the key role that the university’s Cross-Border Institute will play in the initiative. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the economic success of Windsor-Essex, and the region’s efforts to diversify and innovate.”

The initiative is designed to help the region transition from reliance on traditional automotive manufacturing by exploring next-generation mobility innovations, smart technologies, and automation.

With more than a century of automotive manufacturing expertise, a highly skilled workforce and an ideal geographic location, the Windsor-Essex region is well-positioned to become a leader in mobility innovation, Mendicino said.

He said the federal government recognizes that economic diversification is key to resilience and is making strategic investments that leverage regional strengths to create the right conditions for continued growth in our evolving economy.

The funding will enable the development of advanced automobility technologies led by UWindsor engineering professor Mitra Mirhassani, the promotion of an innovation and entrepreneurial network through UWindsor’s EPICentre, and broaden the reach of the UWindsor’s Cross-Border Institute, said K.W. Michael Siu, UWindsor’s vice-president, research and innovation.

UWindsor’s Cross-Border Institute offers cutting-edge research on the movement of goods, people, and money across borders, applicable to many industries and sectors.

“We focus on how to get Canadian firms to integrate into supply chains at the global level,” said director Bill Anderson, Ontario Research Chair in Cross-Border Transportation Policy.

“The CBI has in-house expertise and can provide advice on making the connections to the right markets. Based on our data analytics, we also develop applications and knowledge products, automating processes to make it easier and cheaper to access those markets.”

The institute develops information technology to allow companies to manage logistics like custom and immigration paperwork and take advantage of new trade agreements, Dr. Anderson said.

He said the new funding opens new opportunities.

“In areas where we’ve developed expertise, this makes us able to develop products and services that are marketable and of immediate use to Canadian firms, and at the same time, provide decision-makers in government and the private sector with real options for improving the management of borders.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said the funding is “an investment in the jobs of tomorrow.”

He said it will allow Windsor to diversify its economy while building on its automotive history.

“Now is the time to invest in our strengths.”

─Sarah Sacheli

K.W. Michael Siu, Douglas Kneale, Drew Dilkens, Marco Mendicino, Susan Anzolin, Stephen MacKenzie

K.W. Michael Siu, UWindsor vice-president of research and innovation; Douglas Kneale, UWindsor provost; Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens; Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Susan Anzolin, executive director of the Institute for Border Logistics and Security; and Stephen MacKenzie, chief executive officer of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation; announce a FedDev Ontario investment of up to $5 million to grow an automobility innovation cluster in Windsor-Essex.

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