Canadian composites industry receives federal investment

The Composites Research Network, based at the University of British Columbia Vancouver, received a $9.8 million investment from the Canadian government to help launch the organization.

The Composites Research Network (CRN) reported its launch on Jan. 25 with the announcement of a $9.8 million (CDN) investment by the Canadian government. Based at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver campus, the network is a pan-western Canada initiative, led by UBC Materials Engineering professor Anoush Poursartip.

From its hub at UBC, the CRN will establish nodes in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba where highly qualified composites experts will work with companies to enable them to become more competitive by bridging the gap between theory and practice. The network builds on existing collaborations and aims to bring in new partners from across Canada and internationally in the future.

The CRN aims to better translate academic knowledge into industry practice. Recognizing the challenge for industry to take real advantage of engineering research advances, the core mission of the network is to produce a new family of knowledge-based best-practice documents. CRN participants will be able to access these as well as training facilities, materials and events, linkages to key national and international organizations and institutions.

“The Composites Research Network will focus on bridging the strengths of academia with the needs of business,” says Poursartip. He pointed to the grat potential of composites and the advances taking place in their use, as well as the challenges and risks faced by manufacturers, as the impetus for establishing the CRN at this time.

The Composites Innovation Centre in Winnipeg, a key partner in the network, welcomed the announcement. “The CRN will provide western Canadian industry with a significant advantage in further understanding and refining their composites manufacturing processes,” says Sean McKay, executive director. “Developing the necessary science and hence fundamental understanding of manufacturing issues and being able to assimilate them into everyday operations to reduce defects and improve efficiencies are essential to remain competitive in today’s global market place.”

The Composites Group, a collaborative research team at UBC, which includes Dr. Göran Fernlund (associate director of the CRN), Dr. Reza Vaziri and Dr. Fernand Ellyin, has a long history of innovation and industry cooperation, using knowledge-based simulation in support of risk reduction in composite manufacturing and design. Also joining the core team are Dr. Frank Ko, Dr. Abbas Milani, Dr. Afzal Suleman and Mr. Sean McKay.