The region’s aeronautics sector got a boost this week as part of $22 million in support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
The funding from Ottawa’s Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative was announced by Filomena Tassi, the minister responsible for the agency, at an event Tuesday at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.
Six projects will share in the money, which includes a $1.2-million repayable loan for Cambridge-based Shimco North America towards a 20,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing space and purchase of new advanced equipment.
Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA), based at the University of Waterloo, will receive a $9.2-million non-repayable investment for equipping an Innovation Hub at the Breslau airport to support up to 39 research projects, 12 small-and medium-sized enterprises in the commercialization of sustainability products for the industry. WISA will also develop two aeronautical sustainable e-learning courses.
The funding for WISA is expected to create around 65 jobs.
“My main message is that the support does work. We received money two years ago that allowed us to install a surface treatment line for metal for aerospace. And we appreciate that the standards in aerospace are on par with medical and nuclear industries. So it’s very difficult to be in aerospace. But once you’re in, the opportunities are immense,” said Peter Voss, CEO of Shimco North America.
Established in June of 2021, WISA is Canada’s first sustainable aeronautics institute; it aims to address the challenges facing the aviation industry in the areas of social, environmental and economic sustainability.
“These funds will allow us to fully catalyze an ecosystem here in Waterloo, and across southwestern Ontario, towards our shared goal of becoming a world leading hub for sustainable aeronautical research, technology and education,” said Suzanne Kearns, an associate professor of aviation at UW and founder of WISA.
“WISA will build research capacity in ways that not only paint a complete picture of the challenges, but find intersections where real impact can happen,” said Vivek Goel, UW president and vice-chancellor.
Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis said what made Tuesday’s announcement unique is the partnership between different groups.
“Usually, it might be a company that’s getting some support. But here you’re having that partnership between private, between [post] secondary between governments, all working together toward the same goal, whether it’s sustainability, increasing jobs or helping the next generation get involved in aerospace,” Louis said.
Louis acknowledges that it is a lot of money coming from taxpayers for these programs.
“That’s an investment we’re going to see returns on. Especially in aerospace, I think each country is actually supporting their own ecosystem, because aerospace is a quite large sector,” he said.
Other organizations receiving funding include Oshawa-based Cleeve Technology Inc. ($2.5 million), First Nations Technical Institute in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory ($3.5 million), Service Mold + Aerospace Inc. in Windsor ($3.8 million) and World Trade Centre Toronto ($1.7 million).