More small and medium-sized businesses will now have direct access to Dalhousie University engineers to develop and make prototypes of new products. The Nova Scotia Product Design and Development Centre will provide Nova Scotia businesses with product research, development and prototyping services, helping to turn ideas into marketable products. “We had a very beneficial collaboration with Dalhousie University’s engineering design team,” said Colin Deacon, chief executive officer, BlueLight Analytics. “We provided them with a rough prototype design and they turned it into a customer-ready commercial product that took less time to assemble. “One year later, our checkMARC device is being used across North America and in other countries like Germany, the U.K. and Brazil.” The centre merges two Dalhousie Faculty of Engineering groups — Product Research and Design, and the Innovation in Design Lab (iDLab). The merger means the centre will reach more businesses and better co-ordinate activities. Rubber Trails and Surfaces Canada Ltd., is a small company in Upper Musquodoboit that produces products from recycled rubber. It has worked with engineers at Dalhousie on several projects, including a special curb for running tracks that has been accepted by the International Association of Athletics Federation to be used at the Olympics. “Manufacturing businesses in the Maritimes need to innovate to be far more efficient than our competitors who are closer to the larger, more affluent markets,” said Steve Benison, Rubber Trails and Surfaces Canada Ltd. Government is providing $85,000 in one-time funding to help launch the centre. “Finding ways to connect the private sector with the expertise and creativity of our universities will help make our businesses more competitive and profitable,” said Michel Samson, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. “This centre can help our young, ambitious engineers gain valuable connections to local businesses and our small businesses reach their highest potential.” For more information about the Nova Scotia Product Design and Development Centre, visit http://www.nspddc.ca .