Discovery district will boost STEM space

Artist’s rendering of an attractive new building with people walking by, traffic in the foreground and trees in the background.

“Thanks to its interdisciplinary focus, the STEM complex will be a unique place for students from all faculties to meet and collaborate.”

— uOttawa President Jacques Frémont

The University of Ottawa will build Eastern Ontario’s largest “discovery district” to convert cutting-edge research into promising new technologies, significantly increasing the University’s space for research, innovation, experiential learning and entrepreneurship.

A state-of-the-art Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) complex will house open-concept “super labs,” 3D-printing Makerspaces, our Entrepreneurship Hub and multidisciplinary spaces. The STEM complex will help instill innovation as a core uOttawa value by creating an environment and culture for open innovation and the collision of ideas, key ingredients in the quest for excellence, the advancement of knowledge and a resilient economy.

“Thanks to its interdisciplinary focus, the STEM complex will be a unique place for students from all faculties to meet and collaborate,” said uOttawa President Jacques Frémont. “It will provide fertile ground for the cross-pollination of ideas and for the nourishment of research breakthroughs. I would like to acknowledge all those who made this dream a reality and, in particular, my predecessor, Allan Rock, who played an important role in bringing this about.”

The $115 million STEM complex, which will become the core of our own discovery district on the main campus, has been made possible thanks to a $51.5 million federal government grant from the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund and $6.4 million from the Province of Ontario.

Mona Nemer, vice-president, research, said the STEM complex will complement uOttawa’s existing Advanced Research Complex, dedicated to photonics and geoscience, and propel the University toward its goal of becoming one of Canada’s top five research-intensive universities.

“This fantastic, once-in-a-generation opportunity is something we’ve been hoping to do for years,” Nemer said. “The STEM complex will defy the conventional by taking a multi-sector approach to research, breaking down silos and delivering new synergies. It will inspire innovative startups and drive the transfer of new technologies, promoting the translation of uOttawa research into socio-economic benefits.”

Spaces at the STEM complex will include:

  • Discovery labs that expand on the latest digital infrastructure and state of the art equipment at uOttawa’s Richard L’Abbé Makerspace, encouraging students from all fields of study, including health sciences, arts and humanities, to join the “invent-build-play” movement
  • Our open-concept Entrepreneurship Hub, which will exude vibrancy, creativity and risk-taking and will be ideally suited for those who wish to “Defy the Conventional.” It will help multi-disciplinary startups launch new products by providing expertise on regulatory issues, patenting and advice on accessing venture capital

The STEM complex will consolidate several departments from the faculties of Science and Engineering under the same roof. It will also house the Brunsfield Centre, a dedicated space that allows students to build and test complex prototypes.

“This project is contributing to the creation of a campus that is inviting, memorable and sustainable, goals of the Campus Master Plan,” said Marc Joyal, vice-president, resources. “This state of the art building is a strategic investment that replaces MacDonald Hall, built in the mid-1960s and the CUBE, built in 1950 as a temporary structure. It will benefit the entire University community, enhance our academic mission, attract the brightest minds and enhance their experience on campus.”

Artist’s rendering of an attractive new building with light snow on the ground and people walking by.


Four men and a woman in winter coats stand, smiling, in front of construction equipment, holding a ceremonial shovel.

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the STEM complex on December 13, 2016 (from left): Ioan Nistor (Interim Dean, Faculty of Engineering); David McGuinty (MP Ottawa South); Nathalie Des Rosiers (MPP Ottawa-Vanier); Jacques Frémont (University of Ottawa President); and Steve Perry (Dean, Faculty of Science). Photo: Andrea Campbell


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