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Technology park planned to attract industry to Nanaimo

A new innovation and technology park planned for central Nanaimo will be the first of its kind on the central Island.

Plans for the 6,500 square-metre facility were announced at the Grand Hotel Wednesday.

The Sirri Group, working with Inuktun Services and the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, will open the park in 2014 to bolster development of Nanaimo’s knowledge-based economic sector.

Construction for the Divers Lake Innovation and Technology Park will likely start in February and incorporate energy saving and environmentally sensitive technologies including solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling systems and a green roof.

Robotics firm Inuktun Services will be first to move into the facility and be joined by other technology development tenants.

The facility is a major investment to develop Nanaimo’s hi-tech sector by the Sirri Group, which owns the Grand Hotel, and is privately funding the project.

The cost of the project is loosely pegged at $10 million, said Hesham Sirri, Sirri Group president.

Sirri said bringing like-minded, cutting edge companies together under one roof promotes positive collaboration and further innovation, growth and development. Sirri said he knew of no facilities like this on the Island, but is aware of several similar projects already working on the Lower Mainland.

Colin Dobell, Inuktun CEO, said the company will eventually take up one third of the floor space.

He said Inuktun was looking for space to expand, it spun off one new technology company in 2013. The company was preparing to move from Nanaimo in search of more elbow room for research, development and manufacturing. The new facility means it will maintain its operations in Nanaimo.

“Having this development gives us the opportunity to do more and we plan on doing it in the coming years,” Dobell said. “By my rough estimation, the park probably supports a dozen new companies and it could become the cornerstone of innovation north of Victoria.”

The facility will be constructed near the shore of Diver Lake at the end of Shenton Road.

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