Brock U set to help fuel a digital economy as high-speed broadband announced for Niagara

Brock University officials welcomed today’s news that the Federal and Ontario Governments will provide up to $180 million to help bring ultra-high-speed Internet to homes and businesses in the Niagara region and across southwestern Ontario.

The announcement was made on the Brock campus today by Jim Bradley, MPP for St. Catharines, together with Chris Bittle, MP for St. Catharines and Vance Badawey, MP for Niagara Centre.

The funding means work could begin later this year on the $281-million Southwestern Integrated Technology (SWIFT) Project, which will deliver fibre optic coverage to more than 300 Ontario communities with a population of 3.5 million people.

Brian Hutchings, Interim President of Brock, said the University has been working for months with Niagara Region and other partners to pursue the SWIFT initiative.

“The demand for broadband connectivity in the University environment is endless, from supporting teaching and learning to advancing research,” said Hutchings. “We need access to high-speed, reliable networks.”

Steven Renzetti, Brock’s incoming Interim Vice-President of Research, called the announcement “a huge step in the right direction for Niagara’s economic, social and cultural future.”

“Broadband is essential public infrastructure in the 21st century,” said Renzetti. “Government and non-governmental organizations have an unprecedented need for faster connectivity over more robust networks in order to access and develop products and services.”

Wendy Cukier, who in September will become Brock’s President and Vice-Chancellor, is a leader in emerging technologies and networks and the author of Innovation Nation. As Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University, she led projects to support high-tech startup companies in the DMZ incubator as well as strengthening the innovation ecosystem though the Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC).

“Strong technological infrastructure is critical to Canada’s Innovation agenda and keeping us globally competitive,” said Cukier. “By expanding the Region’s broadband capacity, SWIFT will enable growth across all sectors of the economy, from health care to tourism. I am confident Brock University will work with key stakeholders to advance research and develop the talent critical to building the Region’s innovation ecosystem.”

Brock University is a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate institution whose transdisciplinary digital researchers address many issues relevant to the digital economy, from developing new applications and services, to fuelling digital entrepreneurship, exploring consumer behaviour and technology adoption, and examining policy and privacy issues.

Brock develops the skills and expertise needed for a highly skilled workforce that will drive economic development, in fields ranging from computer sciences and digital humanities to analytics and how businesses make optimum use of big data.

Many of Brock’s leading-edge programs include experiential learning opportunities that further build the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the digital economy. Brock’s new degree/diploma program in gaming, launched in partnership with Niagara College, pairs students with academic and industry experts, to develop graduates ready to work in the growth industry of gaming.

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