Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Grafoid's expansion proof Innovation Park concept making progress in Kingston

By Alex Pickering, The Whig Standard

Sunday, August 17, 2014 

Grafoid Inc.'s expansion into Kingston was a collaborative effort between the emerging advanced materials company, Queen's University and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO). MesoGraf is Grafoid's flagship product -- a substance extracted from the carbon found in graphite ore. The pioneering commodity has already developed a global profile as the strongest material known to man all while remaining extremely lightweight and maintaining conductive properties. Grafoid is set to institute its Kingston expansion on Wednesday when it will open a facility at Queen's Innovation Park. Earlier this week, the Whig-Standard reported that this facility is expected to generate 160 jobs and more than $30 million for the local economy.

Officials from Queen's, KEDCO and Grafoid met on the university's campus, where they discussed the potential for economic development and innovation in the city. They talked about how Kingston could accommodate the fledgling business and provide it the potential to expand its business over the years.

CEO of KEDCO, Jeff Garrah, said there were a multitude of reasons that drew Grafoid to Kingston. The foremost of these was the availability of an established facility following Novelis' departure last year.

"I think the fact that we had an available research centre was key -- the infrastructure was here, that and incredible talent of folks from the former Novelis research centre," Garrah said. He added that access to upcoming talent through Queen's, alongside quality of life for employees and cost savings from eschewing top metropolitan areas, furthered the appeal of the city.

"I think 40 to 50 (jobs) were initially created over the course of the last 12 months. Certainly we envision that number doubling or tripling over the coming years," Garrah said of the opening's potential.

"It'll be an exciting time over the next year or two and we're delighted they've landed in Kingston. The economy is a little slow right now and not many cities are celebrating a success story like this."

Steven Liss, vice-principal of research at Queen's University, said Grafoid's recent expansion fits in with the university's view of

Innovation Park in a broader context. He explained that the concept isn't solely about a specific building or piece of land. Instead, the long-term vision is to create a foundation to support interfaces between the university, industry and the city where economic progress can be made.

"We look to working closely with a company like Grafoid that will also be a significant contributor to the development of entrepreneurship and innovation in the region and also be a beacon for attracting other businesses," Liss said. He added that Queen's has a role to play in regional economic development and hopes that as Grafoid expands its client base, opportunities provided to recent graduates in engineering and science will expand with it.

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