Metro/Bernice Pontanilla David Prystupa, (left) president of Spectrum Agricultural, shows his wheat-sorting machine to electric car builder Martin Pepin at AssentWorks, a non-profit workshop that helps inventors and entrepreneurs create prototypes of their ideas.

It’s a Winnipeg workshop that gives entrepreneurs, inventors and artists the tools and the space to create prototypes of their ideas.

And on Friday, AssentWorks received a $467,000 funding boost from the federal government’s Western Diversification Program to help build more prototypes and commercialize new products.

“(The funding) comes at an amazing time for us,” Michael Legary, chairman and a founding director of AssentWorks told a crowd of several dozens at the downtown Winnipeg facility.

“We’re developing projects, especially with the joint relationship between private industry and government, in the last several months since we opened, we’ve had over 175 new prototypes developed in this space, essentially three a week.”

Legary said many inventors are put off the idea of creating prototypes because of the high cost associated, but those working with AssentWorks have the benefit of using the workshops’ tools and space.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said AssentWorks is “an idea that warrants taxpayers’ money.”

“It’s always amazing to me what people are capable of, especially people here in Manitoba,” he said.

“We have an entrepreneurial spirit, we have the skills and the abilities and the desire, sometimes we don’t have the money and that’s when government comes in to help out in that respect.”

Toews said Canada’s competitiveness in the world market will increasingly depend on “knowledge and innovation,” which needs to be combined with research, technology and commercialization to further create jobs and prosperity.

David Bernhardt, also a founding member of AssentWorks, said products made by members are being tested out on ski slopes, will soon be sold in stores and will be featured on the CBC television show Dragons’ Den.

AssentWorks is a non-profit workshop providing space and tools to more than 80 members looking to get their projects off the ground.

The facility is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to its members, which include university students, employees of science and technology companies, as well as regular everyday folks.

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