14 November 2011

Polytechnics Showcase: Students show their innovation and entrepreneurship skills

The annual Polytechnics Canada Applied Research Showcase was held at Humber College last week, sponsored jointly by BDC. The event featured great presentations from students from each of the member institutes. This is a highlight whereby students from each polytechnic showcase their work with an industry partner and compete for a prize for the best presentation. This year George Brown College student Alecsander Granger took the first prize - congratulations Alecsander!

New this year was a panel discussion of three employers who have hired a polytechnic graduate. Each pair spoke about the role of innovation and entrepreneurship and how the innovation literacy skills learned as part of applied research project work added value to the partner organization. GBC Chef School graduate Geremy Capone, now resident chef at the Electronic Living Lab for Interdisciplinary Survivorship Research, appeared with ELLICSR scientist Dr Sara Urowitz, spoke about the BRUNCH project.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Minister Diane Finley attended the conference both days, and presented the students with the awards in addition to giving a lunch time key note address. The text from her speech are available on the HRSDC website.

Day two of the conference featured an SME Summit, whereby industry partners worked with Polytechnics Canada members to shape the coming advocacy agenda.  Michel Bergeron, Vice President, Corporate Relations, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), kicked off the day outlining the business innovation support that BDC offers. Bergeron in particular discussed how BDC adapted their approach to focus on incremental innovation, versus disruptive innovation, as this was the need expressed by industry. (Also well supported by OECD publications.)

Clair Gartley, Vice President, Business, Innovation and Community Development, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Bert van den Berg, Director, Knowledge and Technology Transfer Division, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Tom Matulis, Acting Executive Director, Ontario Region, Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) also presented on the various supports their respective programs ofer SMEs. In short, it was an excellent SME survival guide that links the preparation of HQSP with the demands of the innovation economy.

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