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University of Manitoba awards design of Smartpark Innovation Hub to Cibinel Architecture


February 14, 2017
by Canadian Architect

University of Manitoba Campus. Photo courtesy of University of Manitoba.

University of Manitoba Campus. Photo courtesy of University of Manitoba.

Through a competitive process, the University of Manitoba awarded the design of the Smartpark Innovation Hub at the Fort Garry Campus to the Winnipeg-based firm, Cibinel Architecture Ltd.

The University of Manitoba’s Smartpark Innovation Hub is a project of critical importance to the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg. The project received 50 per cent of federal funding under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. 

The Smartpark Innovation Hub will become a central gathering place for meetings, conferences and events for the Smartpark business community, province-wide university researchers and the local technology industry. The facility will provide ‘incubator space’ for start-up businesses, supporting commercialization and professional services, encouraging partnerships that will drive the creation of new technologies, and ultimately growing the number of local start-up companies. 

At roughly 75,000 square feet in floor area, the new facility will provide workspace for up to 400 people by April 2018. Consistent with Smartpark’s mission of “Building a Community of Innovators”, the Innovation Hub will bring business and the University together in offices and laboratories for research, prototype development and testing; multimedia training classrooms and video conferencing in meeting spaces and other versatile working, learning and sharing environments.

The Smartpark Innovation Hub will be a place where business “incubation” takes place in stages. In the first two years (Stage 1) start-up companies begin developing their business plans and prototypes in the small suites and laboratories. After the successful completion of Stage 1, start-up companies “graduate” to the Business Centre (Stage 2) where they have more resources and larger suites to continue expanding their business over the next 5 years. In Stage 3 start-up companies reach maturity and establish a stable business that can occupy larger suites.

Two major users of the building will be North Forge and the University of Manitoba Technology Transfer Office.  North Forge is an innovation-based economic development agency and a powerhouse community to fuel Manitoba’s innovation economy providing entrepreneurs with award-winning mentors, subject matter experts and startup program. The Technology Transfer Office is a component of the University of Manitoba, which increases knowledge mobilization between the University and commercial partners. 

The local construction contractor, Bird Construction, has been awarded the Construction Management contract for the project. Through an integrated design process, Cibinel will work with Bird, the University of Manitoba, Smartpark and community members to realize the vision for the new facility.

“We have been working towards the development of the Smartpark Innovation Hub for many years. To be starting the design of this new facility is an incredible achievement. The new facility will provide much needed gathering space in Smartpark,” says Smartpark Director, Larry Paskaruk.

In 2014, Cibinel participated in the winning entry for the international design competition for the University of Manitoba Campus Masterplan.  “Through our work on the Campus Plan, the Active Living Centre and the RTDS building in Smartpark (the building bridging over the pond), we had the opportunity to explore the working environment between the University and Smartpark,”says George Cibinel, President, Cibinel Architecture. “We are thrilled to now be able to work with the University to develop a facility that responds uniquely to their needs and the new masterplan.”