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MM @ Western University for the Ontario Mobility Ecosystem Inaugural Meeting

The EnerTech team at Western Gates!

On December 8th, 2021 EnerTech Capital, Alectra, Linamar, and Western University announced their strategic partnership to Help Build an Ecosystem for Mobility Technologies in Ontario. The objectives of the relationship are two-fold; to help create improved opportunities for student employment in the mobility area, and to leverage off the research capabilities at Western to help accelerate development of new technologies for Canadian mobility startups.

“Western is proud to join the Ontario ecosystem EnerTech is building with Alectra, Linamar, and their links to the California Mobility Center. As a university we see significant opportunities to add value through our research capabilities and commercialization of research which create employment opportunities for our students in the mobility space by paving a path in exciting start-up world.” said Souzan Armstrong, Executive Director of WORLDiscoveries.

April 7th & 8th, 2022 - Here we are four months after this announcement traveling to London, ON for the Ontario Mobility Ecosystem kick-off session! Western University & WORLDiscoveries graciously hosted EnerTech Capital and our strategic partners, Alectra and Linamar, to tour the university’s world class facilities and generate a strategic plan for what the ecosystem will accomplish.

Over the next two days the phrase “old home week” was mentioned more than a couple of times by our attendees. I graduated from Western University myself in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Western is forever a fond memory for me, and all who are proud to attend the university and frequent Richmond Row. It was a special experience to return to my alma mater 6 years later with my colleagues and our Managing Director, Wally Hunter, who also graduated from Western University (he has no bias whatsoever to Western grads 😉). Brian Bentz, CEO of Alectra, John Matovich, Executive Vice President of Alectra and Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar and Chancellor of Western University, are all Western alums as well.

The WORLDiscoveries team planned five tours in total showcasing what the university is doing in the mobility space. It was clear that we saw just the tip of the remarkable research focused on this space and what is to come. We started with a bang at the WindEEE Dome; “The Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment Research Institute (WindEEE RI), was established in 2011 as a clear recognition of novel opportunities in wind research at Western related to the emergence of the world’s first three-dimensional testing chamber. Main topics relate to impact of non-synoptic wind systems (such as tornadoes and downbursts) on buildings and structures, optimization of wind farms and wind turbines, physical modelling of flow over rough surfaces, urban canopies, complex topography and forestry, outdoor and indoor air quality, and wind driven rain and snow. (…) Also, ancillary research is conducted on risk analysis and models, power grid operations, policy, economics and decision making models.”

We saw firsthand how the dome simulates wind, tornadoes, and downbursts

After we discarded our protective goggles and earplugs, we crossed the road to visit the Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for Composites Research, “a joint venture between Western University and the Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), [based] in Pfinztal, Germany. The FIP-Composites at Western develops, tests, validates, and characterizes new lightweight materials and advanced manufacturing processes at industrial scale. By combining Fraunhofer’s latest global technologies and Western’s strengths in materials engineering, the FIP-Composites at Western proactively addresses the needs of its industry partners.” Our partners from Linamar, Mark Stoddart, CTO, and Brett McQueen, Director of Innovation, have visited this facility before as Linamar has collaborated with the Franhoufer Institute in the past.

We were then joined by the 11th President & Vice-Chancellor of Western University Alan Shepard for dinner. Of course, we had to stop by The Ceeps for an obligatory drink on our way home from dinner!

Much has changed since I was at Western but The Ceeps was just how I left it

On our second day on campus we toured three labs: Smart Systems, hosted by Dr. Anwar Haque, 5G Enabled Vertical Industries, hosted by Dr. Xianbin Wang, and Advanced Materials for Clean Energy & Storage, hosted by Dr. Andy Sun. These lab tours were followed by presentations from EnerTech Capital, Alectra, and Linamar for a vast array of Western faculty and finishing with a closed session for strategic partners.

We play in an exciting space that is rapidly evolving. In 2019 when we worked with our strategic partner SMUD to conceptualize the California Mobility Center, we could not have imagined that we would have recreated the same ecosystem in Ontario within just a few years. I left London feeling inspired for what is to come from this partnership and the amazing research and development in the mobility industry that is happening right here in Ontario! Go Mustangs!

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