Science Discovery Zone to get new home thanks to gov’t funding

Bill Morneau funding announcement

Bill Morneau and Mohamed Lachemi at Ryerson’s Launch Zone on Sept. 29, 2016. (Isabelle Docto)

By Isabelle Docto and Robyn Fiorda

Ryerson’s new Science Discovery Zone (SDZ) will have a new home in the Centre for Urban Innovation (CUI) thanks to today’s provincial and federal funding announcement.

Bill Morneau, Canada’s minister of finance, announced today that Ryerson will receive more than $30 million of federal infrastructure funding. Another $4.7 million will come from the province.

Almost $20 million of the investment will go towards the construction of the CUI at 44 Gerrard St. E. The building will contain a state-of-the-art lab.

“I’ve been smiling for weeks,” said Bryan Koivisto, the academic director of the SDZ. He said he’s known about the new space for a while and is excited to be able to work with the different groups in the building.

“The collaboration that we’re going to have with…other groups is going to be tremendous,” Koivisto added.

Koivisto said the CUI is expected to be built by August 2018.

The pilot for the SDZ launched on Sept. 6 and they are currently located in Kerr Hall. They are waiting to get temporary space in the Merchandise Building above Metro for their official launch in mid-October.

Koivisto said the SDZ has been two years in the making. He approached former president Sheldon Levy about the creation of the zone in March 2014. Ultimately, the SDZ will support students in extracurricular, project-based learning opportunities.

Projects at the SDZ can focus on a variety of topics, including mental health and nutrition.

“Let’s get [students] to do what they want to do. Let’s get them involved in project-based learning and let’s let them start solving world problems,” said Koivisto.

Ryerson biology alumna Aly Burtch has a startup with the SDZ that focuses on microbiology research. At the announcement today she said the new space at the CUI will be a big help to students with science ventures.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen Kerr Hall, but the labs are very old,” said Burtch. “The equipment’s pretty old, the actual space is old. So, the idea to actually put more money into research and into science and to build a new building is really helpful for us.”

Morneau’s announcement followed a decision yesterday at the Board of Governors meeting to invest $5 million in the DMZ for Zone Learning. This investment will also provide funding for other new zones.

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