The Fortin Discovery Lab, which opened November 5, 2014, is the brainchild of Tom Fortin, founder of Ontrak Control Systems. Located in the NORCAT Innovation Mill in Sudbury, the goal of the centre is to develop entrepreneurial talent. Thanks to a FedNor contribution of $400,000, the lab features 3-D printers, as well as equipment for computer numerical controlled mold making, laser micromachining and electromagnetic compatibility certification. With its state-of-the-art tools, the Discovery Lab helps engineers and technologists transform concepts into certified products ready for export anywhere in the world.
Frustrated that so many products are being manufactured overseas, Fortin created the lab to help people acquire the skills needed to create a strong, innovative manufacturing sector here in Northern Ontario. In addition, by helping people design and produce their own products, it supports regional job and wealth creation.
"If we want to advance industry and create an innovative economy, we need to create competencies in software, electronics and sensors," asserts Fortin. "The lab is designed to help entrepreneurs to overcome two barriers: the capital costs of equipment, as well as regulatory burdens."
Set up with full electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) certification, the lab allows local companies to do their own testing. Fortin says the advantages are not just monetary.
"When you do your own testing, you learn about the vulnerabilities of your product," states Fortin. "Consequently, company engineers can readily make modifications to their product, and in doing so, enhance their problem-solving skills."
As of October 2019, 25 businesses and 15 entrepreneurs had taken advantage of the facilities offered at the lab to test their product prototypes and/or launch their businesses.
Read more of the article in the Fednor section of the Government of Canada website here.