Two years after being designated a Technology Access Centre through a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Red Deer Polytechnic’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing (CIM-TAC) is celebrating new funding. The national funding – and the equipment it supports – were highlighted at the CIM-TAC Open House, hosted yesterday at the industrial research facility. 

“The Open House provided an opportunity for stakeholders and community members to come to CIM- TAC and gain a better understanding of the first-class innovation and opportunities that are available here,” says Jim Brinkhurst, Interim President of Red Deer Polytechnic. “The prestigious grant funding that the CIM-TAC has received over recent years allows us to grow the knowledge, expertise and equipment available to support research and innovation – in central Alberta and beyond.” 

NSERC announced in April that the CIM-TAC would receive $300,000 over two years in an Applied Research and Technology Partnership (ARTP) grant to promote the growth of innovations in health care assistive devices in Alberta. CIM-TAC’s business and industry clients will be able to accelerate commercialization of their devices through the addition of engineers and technologists with specialties in mechanics, mechatronics and robotics, as well as students in engineering, business, and health sciences to assist on projects. 

“The TAC grant in 2020 allowed us to increase our capabilities to include design engineering and material experts,” says Dr. Tonya Wolfe, CIM-TAC Manager. “The additional staff we’ll be able to take on with the ARTP grant will give us an integrated team of specialists capable of accelerating new product development for our industry clients. Additionally, we will be able to provide a new focus area for central Alberta’s existing manufacturing base, many of whom have already expressed a desire to find areas for new opportunities as the traditional economy of our region changes.” 

The majority of medical devices used in our healthcare system are imported. By encouraging the growth of innovations in health care assistive devices in the region, it will enable Alberta’s manufacturers to diversify into this market through the adoption and integration of digital manufacturing, which is key to meeting the changing realities of Alberta’s economy. 

“With our enhanced capacity, CIM-TAC is able to provide Alberta’s assistive health care companies an integrated one-stop applied research shop to accelerate the commercialization of their homegrown innovations,” says Wolfe. “Our expertise includes design for manufacturing, validation, and manufacturing optimization – all intended to support SMEs at every stage of the innovation cycle as they focus on improving their manufactured products and processes.” 

Darryl Short of Karma Medical Products (KARMED) gave a keynote address at the Open House event about his collaboration with the CIM-TAC in the development of a system for hand and upper extremity therapy. The product assists patients in gaining flexibility, strength, and functional independence. CIM- TAC worked with KARMED on prototyping and in the scale up stage. 

“Through our recent funding and the opportunities it provides, Red Deer Polytechnic’s CIM-TAC is positioned to collaborate with innovators and industry to meet an important need across our province,” says Brinkhurst. “We look forward to working with our partners and stakeholders to achieve positive short- term and long-term goals that will benefit Albertans.”