Sarnia-Lambton research improves in North American ranking

A new ranking places the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park among the top five university business incubators in North America.

The rankings by UBI Global and the Ontario Centres for Excellence saw the Western Research Parks, including the Sarnia park on Modeland Road, improve on their seventh place ranking in 2014 by moving into the fifth spot for 2015.

“I think it’s a very powerful endorsement of the park and where it’s going,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, chairperson of the community development corporation board that operates the Sarnia-Lambton park.

The Lambton County-owned Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park was created 15 years ago at a former Dow Canada research and corporate complex in Sarnia, and is home to office, laboratory and pilot plant space.

It’s one of three research parks connected with London’s Western University.

“I can tell you, when you mention the research park and what it does, it has a huge impact,” Bradley said.

One of the reason the community started the research park was because many of the major companies located in the community were cutting research and development work in Sarnia-Lambton, Bradley said.

“Research and development is the future of any community,” he said.

The research park is home to several pilot plants operated by companies working to move to commercial operation.

“It’s home-made job creation,” Bradley said.

Recently, the community development corporation reported lab space at the park’s commercialization centre was full, following the addition of a third health product tenant.

“Full lab space at the commercialization centre indicates the park is fulfilling its mission to act as a catalyst for local economic growth,” Bradley said in a press release.

“Occupants of the park represent a range of industries at various stages of development helping to further establish the park as a world-class destination for technology and talent.”

The research park’s office buildings are also home to a number of tenants, including Nova Chemicals, Enbridge, Worley Parsons and Atelka.

Bradley said a research park was on his wish list for the community soon after he became Sarnia’s mayor more than a quarter century ago, but it took several tries before efforts to establish one were successful.

“I think it has only been in the last couple of years that the public has come to recognize the benefits,” he said.

“It’s job creation, it’s job retention, and it’s a dynamic building to promote the community.”

The recent recognition from the North American ranking, on top of other recognition the community has received recently, is “very powerful,” Bradley said.

He added it continues to be valuable for the Sarnia-Lambton research park to remain its connection with Western University.

It has been suggested at times that the local park is strong enough it operate independently, but that approach has been rejected by local officials, Bradley said.

“It’s one of the best universities in North America, and that Western brand opens a lot of doors for us,” he said.

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