The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
FedNor Minister Tony Clement left Sudbury on Wednesday with a promise to a city entrepreneur his government would do everything it can to remove road blocks to developing innovative robotics.
Clement first delivered almost $1.8 million in FedNor funding to two organizations in the city to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. The Northern Water Sports Centre received $1 million toward the cost of constructing the facility and Nickel Basin Federal Development Corporation received $795,000 to offer access to capital for new and existing small- and medium-sized businesses.
Clement then travelled 20 minutes to a former elementary school in Naughton that now houses a business called Penguin Automated Systems Inc., where 26 people work in the field of robotics and automation.
Penguin chair and chief technology officer Greg Baiden toured Clement around the plant, showing him where the $400,000 that FedNor gave to Penguin will be put to use.
Baiden and company have developed a prototype he calls a “sewer rat bot” that is used to inspect and map wastewater pipes. The FedNod money will go to develop two more prototypes that will put the robot closer to production.
During the tour, Baiden told Clement how his company is spending so much money on patents for its inventions, it doesn’t have the cash it needs to build the equipment it is designing.
It can cost $200,000 to $400,000 to patent a device internationally, said Baiden, partly because of the cost of translation in several different languages.
Clement promised to continue the conversation with Baiden about the patent issue and others that may be holding his business back.
Baiden and Penguin are in good company because RIM chief Jim Balsillie has told Clement the same thing about the cost of protecting what it creates, said the politician.
“We don’t want to be naive,” Clement told Baiden and reporters. “The rest of the world would love to eat our lunch, and we have to be savvy enough to protect our intellectual property and make sure it just doesn’t get transferred.”
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