25 April 2014

Research Money Conference promotes "CMEs as the next SMEs"

The 13th annual Research Money conference was convened this week in Ottawa, and as in past years featured excellent discussion on the sate of research and innovation in the country. Following on the heels of Budget 2014 the conference theme was Budget 2014: Re-balancing Innovation Support Programs. What was interesting was the a major emergent theme of the conference was the need to expand our thinking in terms of embracing innovation far past the confines of discovery. This means ensuring that R&D is applied, as innovation, not the same as invention, means translating the fruits of basic R&D (in which Canada excels) into business outputs (where Canada lags).

An industry panel was among the many highlights, on which Vicki Saunders, Founder, SheEO, said "CMEs are the next SMEs." By this she refers to ‎Creators, Makers, and Entrepreneurs, reflecting a significant focus of the conference: the importance of the humanities and social sciences in effective business innovation. To this end, Vicki Saunders talked about adding Arts to STEM (STEAM), reinforcing that effective business innovation and entrepreneurship requires people who understand human behavior and psychology, particularly as this relates to selling inventions to make them into innovations. 

John Baker, Desire2Learn CEO, spoke eloquently about the need for innovation in the economy and his company's pursuit of it in the learning technology space. He also linked his speech into two of SSHRC"s Future Challenge Areas, further showcasing the relevance of humanities and social science disciplines in the effective R&D translation enterprise in Canada. To this end, innovation literacy requires a broad set of skills that are complementary to each other, much like disciplines working together are. This discussion bodes well for the future of R&D, and its translation into innovation for social and economic productivity. 

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