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Sask. Polytech moving to U of S campus

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Saskatchewan Polytechnic is moving its main Saskatoon campus to Innovation Place at the University of Saskatchewan campus.

The post-secondary school made an announcement alongside the U of S, the province and Innovation Saskatchewan Wednesday at the site where the new campus will be built, centralizing 13 existing buildings across the city.

"The new Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus in Saskatoon is a once in a generation opportunity to create a 21st century learning environment that supplies the expert workforce … for existing, as well as emerging industries," Sask. Polytech President and CEO Larry Rosia said.

The provincial government said it will contribute up to $200 million for the project. Other details are unknown. There's no timeline on when the project will start, when the campus will open, how much it will cost or its size.

Rosia said more a timeline for construction will be released next year, with an expectation it will take three years to build once they break ground. Rosia says a search for donors and a capital campaign will be part of the journey to construction.

All the speakers Tuesday described the campus as a final piece of an "Innovation Corridor," with all three partners coming together in one place to become the first centre of its kind anywhere in the continent.

"We are creating a centre of excellence," Rosia said. "This is a forward-thinking investment in education."

The new corridor is expected to bring together businesses, entrepreneurs, students and other learning institutions to be a centre for applied learning and research.

U of S President Peter Stoicheff said there isn't a place in the United States or Canada that is combining all of those areas to this extent.

"(It's) going to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts," he said.

Premier Scott Moe called Tuesday a day to "look back at" years from now, and the benefits to the province will be immense as he hopes it will spur decades of economic activity, create new jobs and lead to world-changing research.

Rosia agreed with Moe, touting the school's 95 per cent graduate employment rate, with 91 per cent of graduates staying in the province.

"Partnering with the university, we can round out that ecosystem," Rosia said. "University discovers things, and we take that discovery and apply it."

Aaron Genest, the president of SaskTech, an advocacy group that represents Saskatchewan's tech sector, said the new corridor will enhance the province's ability to recruiting people to Saskatchewan.

"Every industry in our province is digitizing," said Genest.

"A modern worker needs to understand more about technology every day, and beyond workers, a successful economy is driven by innovation, and innovation is driven by our post-secondary institutions,” he said.

"There's nothing which will match this," Rosia said. "Critical to the future and the economics of the province."

Even though much of Tuesday's ceremony was about a look to the future and the technology sector, Rosia said the new campus will house its existing trade and technology programs.

Sask. Polytechnic's Idylwyld campus was built in 1941, and has grown to become a school that sees roughly 5,000 students graduate every year.  

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