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UTM spending $70–100 million to build Innovation Complex

New building set to open September 2014
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The start of construction for the University of Toronto Mississauga’s new Innovation Complex is slated for May 23. The expansive, four-level complex will house the Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI), and will provide spaces for the departments of Economics and Management. The complex is expected tobe completed  September 2014, and will be available for student use for that academic year.

In a phone interview with The Varsity, principal of UTM Deep Saini stated: “This complex is an attempt to organize these [management] programs under a single umbrella, similar to a business school.”

Of the nearly 13,000 undergraduate students attending UTM, over 2,200 are enrolled in an undergraduate management program. These programs, including Business Administration (BBM) and Commerce (BCom), are meant to provide specialized management training at an undergraduate level. Saini explained that there has been great demand from both students and employers for growth in these management programs, and the complex allows space for future development.

“We are committed to increasing enrolment in these programs,” said Saini, stating that enrolment is expected to increase from 2,200 students to more than 3,000 students “over the long run.”

The complex will also provide space for a number of professional graduate programs. For example, the Master of Biotechnology program (MBiotech), which teaches both biotechnology and management skills, will now be affiliated with the IMI. UTM’s popular Master of Management and Innovation program (MMI) is also expected to receive support with the completion of the complex.

Despite its focus on business management, the IMI is not expected to offer a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in the future. However, there are plans for more management-oriented, sector-specific, professional masters programs. These sectors include environment, sustainability, and other emerging technology markets.

The IMI’s complex will cost the University of Toronto $35 million to construct. “However, by the time we finish this unique business school we are dreaming about, it will cost the university $70 million to $100 million,” said Saini, emphasizing UTM’s desire to expand the complex over time.

“This is a combination of management and business management, so we will need to expand some of those facilities in the future to broaden our program.” The additional costs to the site are expected to cover operating costs, hiring new faculty and non-academic staff, as well as improving the complex itself.

The university has already allocated $35 million to complete construction. However, to cover the additional costs of expansion, the university has to rely on other sources of funding.

To that end, University of Toronto President David Naylor and Deep Saini met with Mississauga’s city council on May 15 and asked for a $10 million commitment for UTM’s Innovation Complex. They received overwhelming support from Mayor Hazel McCallion and other members of the council. Many councilors stated an interest in investing in world-class education.

While a formal vote has not yet been held to officially approve the fund, both parties were confident that council would be in favour of supporting the complex. If approved, the city would pay in $1 million installments over 10 years. More importantly, the approval of such a large investment from Mississauga may act as a starting point for future fundraising presentations.

“We are very hopeful that, once Mississauga steps up to the plate with such a significant contribution, this will send a strong signal to the community that this is an important project,” said Sinai.

Sinai hopes much of the financial support for the new addition to the UTM campus will come from nearby municipalities such as Brampton, Oakville, and Milton due to its direct economic benefits. The complex is expected to generate around $22 million annually for Mississauga and its surrounding municipalities.

The fundraising push comes on the heels of a report commissioned by UTM, which is designed to encourage donations, and states that UTM contributes $1.3 billion to the surrounding economy. 

UTM is also hopeful that they will receive federal and provincial funds for the project. The complex is also expected to receive support from the U of T’s $2 billion dollar Boundless fundraising campaign, with a specific focus on philanthropists from the business and technology industries.

Despite the fact that UTM is only in the initial stages of fundraising, Saini is confident that the U of T is making the right decision by breaking ground as early as May 23. “We are going to build this complex even if we only have $35 million in funds. The demand is so high in UTM that we need to build this facility for the students.”

Even if funding dries up in the future, Saini is adamant that the development of the new facility will not affect student fees in any way. “There is no plan whatsoever to change tuition as a result of this. It’s designed to provide a better level of service for students — they deserve better and that’s what we’re trying to do with this.”