The University of Western Ontario has signed a memorandum of understanding with Fraunhofer that would see the development of a joint project – the International Composites Research Centre (ICRC).
“This Centre would be unique in Canada and could make London [Ontario] and our region the leading site for advanced composite materials research and manufacturing-scale testing,” said Western President Amit Chakma. “The international reputation of the Fraunhofer Institute would be a great draw and this facility would be utilized by companies in several industrial sectors including the auto sector, the air and space industry, renewable energy, and construction.”
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the largest organization for applied research in Europe with more than 80 research units, including 62 Fraunhofer Institutes at different locations in Germany as well as research centers and offices in Europe, the U.S., Asia and the Middle East. It has 17,000 staff (mostly qualified scientists and engineers) and has an annual research budget of over $2 billion. Two thirds of the research revenue is derived from contracts with industry and from publicly financed research projects.
The International Composites Research Centre would be located at the new Advanced Manufacturing Park in London. It would focus on the development of light-weight materials to be used by auto parts manufacturers and others in industry that produce structural components from composite material that can significantly decrease product weight.
Western’s Vice-President (Research & International Relations), Ted Hewitt says, “We have already begun discussions and planning that will see us engage other partners from industry, including automotive manufacturers in North America and their Tier 1 suppliers, other universities and national labs in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.”
“Western is an ideal partner for the Fraunhofer-ICT,” says Dr. Frank Henning, Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer-ICT. “Western has moved with speed to create with us a neutral, university-based platform for applied research. Through the ICRC, North American industry will be able to develop, test, and validate the most advanced materials and processes that will be part of the next generation of competitive, light-weight automobiles, airplanes, construction materials, and so on. We are delighted to partner with The University of Western Ontario, in the City of London, Ontario.”
Hewitt also believes that the ICRC is the perfect kind of facility for the Advanced Manufacturing Park. “It will act as a magnet for industrial product development and from Western’s perspective, this expertise will also provide first-class opportunities for basic and applied research, and the training of the next generation of world-class engineers, technicians, and scholars.”
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