15 November 2013

Innovation is a behaviour

The eighth annual Polytechnics Canada Student Applied Research Showcase was convened this week at SAIT Polytechnic, and featured some really outstanding presentations from students from each of the 11 members. GBC mechanical engineering design student John-Allan Ellingson took second place in the competition - congratulations John-Allan! John-Allan presented his work with SOS Customer Service on an innovative crane for lifting curtain walls into place. See a video of the project here.

The event was presented by Cisco, and SAIT did a truly outstanding job of hosting, with many innovative features in the program, including an RFID real time location system for the gala dinner seating.

The event was opened with keynote speeches by The Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology, and The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. Ministers Rickford and Rempel both spoke about the importance of college and polytechnic applied research as linked to skills, a theme picked up by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, in his keynote address.

This connection - between focused applied research and innovation skills acquisition and demonstration by our students - is the hallmark of polytechnic applied research. My recent article in the online journal Technology Innovation Management Review - Measuring Innovation Skills Acquired by College and Polytechnic Students through Applied Research - makes these connections, as part of work we are doing to measure outcomes and innovation literacy. Research Money also published a short opinion piece on this topic. Supply and demand in the innovation economy is available on the R$ website.

One of the speakers from the gala - there were five in a series of short speeches on the value of innovation in  variety of contexts - spoke about how innovation is not an end in and of itself, but that innovation is a behaviour. This is a really strong point - the demonstration of innovation literacy - the skills of innovation and entrepreneurship - models the kind of behaviour needed for a strong, resilient and productive economy. Seeing the students from the 11 polytechnics showed all that the future is a more innovative place when these are the kinds of graduates who enter the workforce running.

It is events like these that really showcase the value of innovation skills to our industry partners. Kudos to SAIT for putting on an excellent show, and for raising the bar on the ability of our members to show the world what innovation looks like.

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