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Councillor wants Calgary to support Hyperloop research centre

Transpod Inc. has been eying Calgary for a possible test track for its vacuum train technology

Toronto hyperloop startup TransPod is coming to Alberta to scout out potential business opportunities. This artist renderig shows a pod travelling though a hyperloop along the Edmonton-Calgary corridor.

Courtesy TransPod / Calgary Staff

Toronto hyperloop startup TransPod is coming to Alberta to scout out potential business opportunities. This artist renderig shows a pod travelling though a hyperloop along the Edmonton-Calgary corridor.

With talk of Calgary wooing Amazon to its vacant office space, one councillor wants to show the city’s commitment to attracting another Canadian startup working on a much-hyped technology.

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra is putting forward a notice of motion this week asking the city to support development of a hyperloop research centre and test track.

“Right now – it’s like an early stage Memorandum of Understanding to say we will be there to support this – like we did with autonomous vehicles,” said Carra. “There are barriers, so what can we do to signal to the world to show we’re open for business?”

Carra said he and transportation boss Mac Logan met with Transpod Inc. CEO Sebastian Gendron and other company officials in August.

Carra said Calgary has the right mix of climate extremes for testing the technology.

"There's the possibility to move quickly from research and development to practical application, espcidally with Transpod’s interest in the Edmonton-Calgary corridor," he said.

Carra is not suggesting the city help the company financially in any way at this time.

The company, currently based in Toronto, is one of three big players worldwide in the race to develop vacuum train technology.

Gendron said the support, if approved by council, would be a big step forward for Transpod.

“It’s sending a strong signal to our investors and future investors that we have support from a major Canadian city,” said Gendron. “That’s fairly key.”

Transpod has said Calgary would make a strong base for its research and development headquarters because of the city’s highly educated workforce and concentration of engineers – many who specialize in pipeline technology.

Transpod’s immediate goal is to build a one-kilometre test track starting sometime in 2019. It already secured $20 million in funding from private investors.

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