15 March 2011

ORION Summit to promote Open Innovation

Mark your calendar for the annual ORION Summit, Innovation Needs a Backbone, being held at the MaRS Centre on 18-19 April 2011. This annual event convenes "distinguished Canadian and global leaders and innovators in science, research, education and information technology to discuss and showcase new and innovative technologies that are transforming the way we conduct research, collaborate, teach and learn." George Brown College President Anne Sado, who is also the Chair of the ORION Board of Directors, is giving the welcome address.

I am convening a panel discussion on "Colleges & Applied Research: Key to Innovation Success in Ontario." Panelists include:
  • John Breakey, CEO, Unis Lumin; Chair, Industry Advisory Committee, Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation
  • Darren Lawless, Dean, Sheridan Applied Research
  • Ken Ono, Vice President, NexJ Systems
  • Dan Munro, Senior Research Associate, Conference Board of Canada
Each will speak to their experiences with the start-up nature of college applied research, success factors and industry engagement, and the role of engaging students and mobilizing our institutions for a future workforce enabled by innovation literacy. We'll end with a discussion about virtual research clusters, such as can be enabled by ORION, that would let us address industry needs where and when needed through advanced collaboration and communication technologies. A virtual R&D cluster would enable distributed work teams to collaboratively address R&D needs emerging from basic research labs for market entry, as well as addressing the applied research needs of industry. Such a portal is a point made in George Brown College's submission to the R&D Panel, wherein we advocate for an articulated innovation system with an "any point of contact" approach to industry innovation support. This is a logical extension of what CONII does, but would take it one step further and leverage the capabilities of the ORION network and offer tools and protocols for triaging industry requests and mechanisms for fostering cooperation and collaboration.

Creating virtual "regions of knowledge" and crafting the Canadian innovation system as an open innovation network will have positive downstream productivity effects. The ORION backbone is a key enabler of this future, a point made very well in ORION CEO Darin Graham's talk to the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance last September.

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