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$33-million biomedical research and advanced manufacturing facility opens in Hamilton

The Fraunhofer Project Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing at McMaster University (BEAM) has opened.
The Fraunhofer Project Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing at McMaster University (BEAM) has opened. Sara Cain, 900 CHML

McMaster University has teamed up with the Leipzig, Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology to help push the region to new heights in biomedical engineering.

The partnership has culminated in the unveiling of a $33-million laboratory and advanced manufacturing facility situated at Aberdeen Avenue and Longwood Road in Hamilton.

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Fraunhofer-McMaster project centre director, John Brennan, says the 20,000-square-foot space will allow researchers to develop new diagnostic tests and treatment for a wide range of diseases, and then prepare them for the marketplace.

“We need validation, we need clinical trials on medical devices, we need to understand how do we manufacture these,” he said. “BEAM (Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing) fills the gap between the early stage research that is developed at the university and the final products that an industry partner would sell.”

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Fraunhofer’s success in this field makes the company a strong partner, according to Brennan.

He says they will be able to tap into Fraunhofer’s resources when required, and perhaps, more importantly, will be able to implement their model for the commercialization of medical advancements involving biomaterials.

“The goal is to do what Fraunhofer has done, which is 20 times return on investment,” he said.

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The German ambassador to Canada commended the new partnership, pointing to a backdrop of growing tensions on the international stage, regarding NAFTA.

Sabine Sparwasser told the crowd at the BEAM ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, that Germany and Canada share a similar vision that looks to innovation and collaboration as the way forward.

“We’re arguing and lobbying together with Canada for the benefits of open and fair negotiated trade,” she said. “Protectionism is a threat to the well-being of our workers, of our cities, of our industries.”

Sparwasser stressed trade wars create lose-lose situations where the partnership between McMaster and Fraunhofer is a win-win proposition.

The Fraunhofer-McMaster project centre is expected to create 75 new jobs and bring approximately $70 million in economic benefits to the region in the next three to four years.

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