Somewhere in Thunder Bay there could be a million dollar idea sketched on a cocktail napkin.
Or maybe someone has a rough prototype sitting in their garage without the resources to make it a finished product.
Until now those ideas, if they're not collecting dust, would be sent to major manufacturing markets to be developed. But thanks to the new Mi-Zone, launched Friday at Confederation College, products can be transferred from a napkin to a finished prototype right here at home.
"I get the most personal pleasure working from a napkin sketch because we get to be involved from beginning to end of the project," Kam Valley Industries, a major partner in the project, president Tyler Bragnalo said.
"There's nothing like helping someone turn their vision or idea into a reality."
At the centre of that reality is a state-of-the-art turn-mill that can handle even the most advanced parts a local inventor or innovator can dream up. It's not something that the public usually has access to. Bragnalo figures it's the first of its kind at least between Winnipeg and Sudbury.
And that's something Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre manager Judy Sander said the region definitely needed. The innovation centre was used to helping local entrepreneurs develop the business side of a product before seeing them on their way as it headed elsewhere to be refined and manufactured.
"The goal is to have that here," she said. "Innovation happens better when you can go back and forth in a quick manner and deal with the challenges of something new so having that resource here keeps it from happening in Europe or happening in southern Ontario."
The Mi-Zone has already helped local innovators including the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute and Auto Flex.
For more information visit the Mi-Zone website. http://www.mi-zone.ca
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