Ryerson University has submitted a request for the creation of an ‘innovation hub’ in downtown Niagara Falls, which would have a total cost of $33 million and would be built upon over the next five years. This is not the first attempt Ryerson has made to create a presence in Niagara, but an earlier federal bid that was made last year was declined.
The main Ryerson University campus is located in Toronto on Younge Street and Dundas Street and houses the Ted Rogers School of Management, which is the biggest undergraduate business school in the country. Ryerson hosts an academic body of approximately 39,300 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students, which makes the school 10th in the country in terms of overall enrollment. Due to their focus on business studies, Ryerson has collaborated with companies such as Facebook to partner on start-up projects.
This won’t be Ryerson’s first time opening an innovation hub, as they have previously created the DMZ (Digital Media Zone), which helps tech start-up companies through four processes which involve education, innovation and what is known as ‘incubation’ and ‘acceleration’. These processes help start-ups with research and development, marketing and funding. The potential innovation hub for Ryerson would become a part of Niagara Falls’ Business Innovation Zone program, which helps support youth and smaller business organizations with training, utilities, networking services and access to capital. Ryerson’s DMZ claims that it has helped 309 businesses to date, which has led to the creation of 2,936 jobs and $390.8 million in funding.
Niagara Falls City Council held a special meeting to discuss the potential creation of the innovation hub in the city. Ryerson has asked Niagara Falls to commit $5 million to the project until 2022. All of the City Council members present, with one exception, voted in favour of a recommendation to continue with the application process.
Councillor Carolyn Ioannoni of the Niagara Falls City Council stated that the Council does not have a clear idea of how the project will benefit the city and how funding will be appropriated. Ioannoni also stated that Ryerson did submit the application bid before consultation with the Council. Ioannoni believes that the city needs ‘far more’ information on the project before the City commits ‘one cent’ of funding. The Council also, reportedly, does not have ‘a clue’ of who the partner is for Ryerson on the project.
It is estimated that no feedback will be received for approximately four months in regards to Ryerson’s bid.