The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre’s office, located on the second floor of the Accelerator Hub on Queen St. E., was full of excited faces on Friday afternoon as local MPP Ross Romano announced that the SSMIC is receiving $713,590 in NOHFC funding to create a team of information technology (IT) specialists, creating nine new jobs in the Sault.
This team’s objective will be to foster innovation and modernization to position Northern Ontario as a global leader in the manufacturing sector.
As its first client, the team is partnering with Algoma Steel Inc. to develop IT solutions that
will help the company retain jobs, modernize its operations and remain competitive in world markets.
Through this partnership, Algoma Steel will be optimizing its IT-based systems to
make the steel-making process more efficient and increase profits.
“We’re doing these things because we want to see more jobs, we want to see more competitive businesses in the region, and we want to help our region grow,” Romano told SaultOnline. “And this is a great solution to be able to achieve that goal.”
Peter Bruijns, Executive Director of the SSMIC, said this is a huge opportunity for the Sault. As of right now, he said the team is working hard at upwards of 10 specific process areas within the plant at Algoma, creating software in tandem with Algoma’s experts. This process is creating is a lot of software solutions within Algoma that will benefit the plant while improving its competitiveness.
“The knowledge that we’re building in our team in understanding how to convert an industrial process into information solution and how that benefits the plant, that skill set is being entrained into a large group of our staff now,” he explained.
He said this will help them with other clientele when the time comes.
“We’ll be able to understand their workflow processes and their services they need, and help them get to whatever goals they’ve identified a whole lot quicker,” hen said. “So having that technology capability in your people is by far number one, and we’re getting that.”
Bruijns said there’s a lot of teamwork and strong communication between the Innovation Centre and Algoma, which helps figure out what the goals are and break them down into achievable milestones and objectives.
He said this is a long-term project, which “should create a lot of wealth and value for the city.”
“We’re focused on doing just that.”
Pramod Shukla, the Chief Operating Officer for Algoma Steel, said this partnership -which has been in the works for a while – will take Algoma to the next level in terms of efficiencies and improvements, as well as to fill the gap by having local services instead of always contracting from out-of-town.
“Algoma has one key strategy objective – to improve efficiencies and utilize the technology to modernize this facility so that we can remain competitive and sustainable for long-term,” he said. “This partnership is basically to develop some talent at a local level who can work with us and have some type of a technology hub at the local level.”
Bruijns said currently, the Innovation Centre is investing money in marketing and has plans to attend trade shows across North America to build awareness of their services and programs, and to hopefully attract customers.