WearTech Labs scientific co-director Edward Park. WearTech Labs is based at SFU Surrey. (Photo: SFU)

WearTech Labs scientific co-director Edward Park. WearTech Labs is based at SFU Surrey. (Photo: SFU)

SFU receives $11.8M in federal funding for agritech sector, Surrey-based WearTech Labs

PacifiCan, the federal branch providing the funding, planning new headquarters in Surrey

Two Simon Fraser University projects are receiving millions in federal funding, including a lab in Surrey that develops, tests and commercializes wearable health tech.

Receiving $1.8 million from the Pacific Economic Development Canada, WearTech Labs is one of SFU’s new core facilities. According to the university, its core facilities are “purpose-built to house and provide access to infrastructure shared across the whole SFU community and beyond. These facilities allow for the pooling of resources at a university scale, providing opportunities to acquire world-class equipment.”

At WearTech Labs, they work with researchers to develop wearable technology to help improve lives, such as through “improvements to vital sign alerts for healthy babies in developing countries, increasing business productivity through redesigned and better-used workspaces, and creating locators for firefighters attending fires in complex indoor settings.”

With the funding, WearTech Labs will be able to create a pair of new research labs at the facility.

Max Donelan, SFU professor and WearTech Labs scientific co-director, said the new labs will help to simulate a “wide-range of environmental conditions experienced around the world.”

“This will enable our academic and industrial partners to develop and test wearable devices that truly work for anyone no matter how they live their lives.”

SFU says the initiative is expected to create 40 new jobs and increase revenues by $25 million through the investment, adding the global market projections for the wearable technologies sector are expected to reach $150 billion by 2026.

SFU professor Edward Park, the lab’s other scientific co-director, says the timely funding will lead to “new health, fitness and fashion wearables that promote better-connected and healthier lifestyles, while also advancing the transformation of the wearable technology industry.”

Meantime, SFU’s AGtech Innovation Sandbox (AGIS) is receiving $10 million from PacifiCan.

AGIS, according to SFU, is a collaboration between itself and the University of the Fraser Valley and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“AGIS brings together agri-food producers, technology companies, municipalities, Indigenous communities, non-for-profit organizations and post-secondary education institutions to enhance agriculture sustainability and resiliency in our province,” says SFU professor Sylvain Moreno, AGIS’s scientific director.

With the funding, AGIS is expected to create more than 300 new jobs, bring “at least 20 technologies to market” and generate $13 million in business sales growth by 2026.


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