31 July 2007

Special SSHRC Call for Proposals

The following was sent by SSHRC:

Research in Management, Business and Finance

In March 2007, the Government of Canada announced it would provide the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) $11 million annually to support additional research in management, business and finance. This new funding provides a significant opportunity for the research community, its partners and other stakeholders to contribute towards innovative management, entrepreneurship and sustainable economic development practices in Canada through internationally recognized research and training.

The Council has developed special funding opportunities for 2007 as an initial step in the support of research excellence leading to greater impact in management, business and finance. Over the next year, SSHRC will engage in discussions with the social sciences and humanities community and others to develop a longer-term strategy for investments in these areas.

Researchers active in the social sciences and humanities are invited to apply to five special initiatives in management, business and finance, being offered in 2007 only, with deadlines in November 2007 (program descriptions and application forms will be available shortly):

  • Knowledge Impact in Society Grants (institutional grants of up to $300,000 for up to 3 years), deadline: November 15, 2007
  • Research Grants (up to $250,000 for up to 3 years), deadline: November 8, 2007
  • Public Outreach Grants (up to $80,000 for up to 1 year), deadline: November 15, 2007
  • International Opportunities Fund (up to $75,000 for up to 1 year), deadline: November 8,2007
  • Research Development Initiatives (up to $40,000 for up to 1 year), deadline: November 8, 2007

Additional funding specifically for management, business and finance projects will also be made available through a number of existing SSHRC programs, according to regular application deadlines:

  • Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (up to $2.5 million for up to 7 years), deadline: January 31, 2008 (letter of intent)
  • Strategic Knowledge Clusters (up to $2.1 million for up to 7 years), deadline: November 20, 2007
  • Community-University Research Alliances (up to $2 million for up to 5 years), deadline: November 21, 2007
  • Aid to Workshops and Conferences (up to $50,000 for up to 1 year), deadline: November 1, 2007

Note: Regular funding will continue for all disciplines within the Standard Research Grants program, with a deadline of October 15, 2007. Researchers may apply for both Standard Research Grants and Research Grants in management, business and finance, but must ensure that their applications deal with different research objectives.

Please forward this e-mail to those parties whom you feel would be interested in these programs. For more details, please go to SSHRC's Web site: http://www.sshrc.ca/web/apply/program_descriptions/mbf_e.asp

The web application forms and the program descriptions will be available by the end of September.

If you have any additional questions, please contact: Laurent Messier, tel: (613) 943-1148; E-mail: laurent.messier@sshrc.ca.

Research in the solar space

Last week's OCE session on solar energy was a very good discussion/brainstorming session that brought together industry and academic researchers on how to structure an upcoming $15m OCE call for proposals on solar energy. The session was structured as a "future workshop," a staple of participatory design, which is a good way of involving stakeholders in design processes.

Many good ideas and gaps were discussed at the session, including the need to train highly qualified people in the trades that will support the installation, maintenance and retirement of solar equipment. This is one area where our applied research can excel.

As we are in the process or working out some R&D in the solar space, I've been paying attention to news items on solar energy, of which there have been a few of late. Yesterday, for example, there was an opinion piece on what government can do to better enable investment in solar technology. Overall this piece provides some interesting ideas, but does sidestep the issue that Canada does not spend as much on R&D as our OECD counterparts (a point made by a speaker at the Polytechnics Canada conference a while back). Solar can be viable even in rainy climes, though the power buy-back scheme in Germany (as in Ontario) are supporting the initial investment.

The OCE is working to address the R&D issue in Ontario with a targeted call for research, starting with an expressions of interest call, expected in early August, with two page EOIs due on 31 August.

And while we're on the topic of alternative energy, here's a fascinating take on harnessing the kinetic energy of crowds that brings new meaning to the term "crowdsourcing."

30 July 2007

Education in formation

An article today discusses the issue of college+university transfer in order to solve a looming post-secondary education enrollment boom. The idea of "a system-wide change that would allow students to more easily transfer credits between colleges and universities" would be good for Ontario and certainly the GTA. As I noted earlier, the education system where I did my undergraduate studies was fully articulated. I recall being very surprised when I came to Ontario for grad school and found out that it wasn't the same here. Of course, I've since learned of the many challenges faced by the Ontario system. But, in keeping with the collaborate to compete model, York's president (Mamdouh Shoukri) reminds us that "'There are incredible opportunities hidden in big challenges.'"

27 July 2007

OCE Discovery Session on Solar Energy

The Ontario Centres of Excellence is holding a Discovery Session on Solar Energy today in anticipation of an OCE call for proposals on solar energy. The location is:

Room 7180 - Bahen Centre for Information Technology (BA) 40 St. George Street M5S 2E4
http://oracle.osm.utoronto.ca/map/index2.html (Bahen Centre code: BA)
(Co-incidentally the home of KMDI).

The focus on solar energy is a strategic alignment with the federal government's S&T Strategy. The OCE's goal is to "launch significant research to commercialization projects which will be transformative for the energy sector in the province and position Ontario on the world stage." We've been discussing applied research options with a CarbonFree Technology, a solar energy company based in Toronto, so the OCE session is timely. We'll keep you posted as things develop.

And speaking of things solar, here's an interesting bit of news on the latest in solar research: Paint-On Solar Panels.

23 July 2007

Open access publishing

A story from Saturday on open access publishing takes a look at the high cost of academic journal subscriptions and the open access publishing movement that has risen in recent years. Ironically, the story is not freely available from the online Globe and Mail unless you Google the title ("Turning the ivory tower into an open book").

The article quotes John Willinsky, who leads the Public Knowledge Project, as saying that academics have a responsibility to ensure their work is published and made accessible: "We have to change that thinking so that it is not enough to publish, you also are responsible for the degree of access to your work."

The Public Knowledge Project produces Open Journal Systems software that makes it simple for journal editors to set up and manage an online, open access journal. Open Conference Systems is a similar technology for conferences. Software systems such as these are important components of making information and knowledge media available to those who fund us: the public.

Another open source software that I like is D-Space. A colleague at the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center gave me the great idea of using D-Space to archive conference posters and presentations, ephemeral media that are otherwise not accessible after the event. (How many of us have old conference posters rolled up in our offices?). Putting them online with D-Space gives them a permanent URI and makes them accessible in a useful and useable format. I started experimenting with this while at the UofT. We plan on installing a D-Space application in the near future as a means of archiving our knowledge media products and research outputs.

For those interested in open source software, Seneca's School of Computer Studies is hosting their annual Free Software and Open Source Symposium from 25-26 October this year. Check out also KMDI's Project Open Source Open Access.

20 July 2007

Just clean your hands!

The Just clean your hands campaign is well underway, with the development of a microsite being posited in order to better leverage web n+1 technologies to reach healthcare workers with this important message. The Just clean your hands program is a research project aimed at increasing hand hygiene compliance among health workers. The Hand Hygiene Education Module is part of the MOHLTC's Infection Control Core Competency Education Program.

My colleague Lynda Atack (Centennial College) and I have recently conducted research into effective learning programs for infection control. The learning modules that we studied are the first three of a planned large suite of learning products being produced by the product. These modules have recently been released to healthcare workers in Ontario. Read the Ontario Hospital Association's report here, and the MOHLTC report here.

12 July 2007

The ecology of innovation

A while back I wrote about the memetics of innovation as part of the process of discovery, open source learning and collaboration as the cornerstones of fostering a culture of inquiry and innovation in applied research.

Here's a good article on the "ecology of innovation," a useful term coined by William Wulf, that adds to this conversation. What I like about this piece is Wulf's assertion that "learning and investment are not enough," as he expands the recipe for innovation to include IP and tax law and the apparatus that collectively governs the ways in which we understand, conduct, and commercialize applied research.

Of particular relevance is the point that "His argument for diversity is not based on fairness, but rather on the value of bringing diverse social and cultural perspectives to the design of products and procedures that will be used by diverse people around the world."

10 July 2007

News, funding from NSERC

NSERC's new e-bulletin was released yesterday, containing information on the review and consultations currently underway at the federal funder. Of special note is the supplemental Strategic Project Grants competition, which is offering new and expanded funding "for projects that fall within three of NSERC’s seven target areas: Healthy Environment and Ecosystems, Sustainable Energy Systems, and Advanced Communications and Management of Information."

The new funding has a fast turn around time - applications are due 1 October, with adjudication set for January and decisions announced in February. Also in the bulletin is information about the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program. These initiatives are part of the government's new science and technology strategy.

09 July 2007

Applied research in environmental technologies: OCETA Precarn OCE Alliance Program

For those conducting research on environmental technologies, Precarn last week sent the following reminder about the OCETA Precarn OCE Alliance Program:

July 5, 2007 - OCETA Precarn OCE Alliance Program

Precarn, the Ontario Centre for Environmental Technologies (OCETA), and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) wish to remind you of their collaborative Proof of Principle Research (PoP) Program. The program supports projects led by Ontario-based small and medium-sized companies that deliver environmental solutions to customers in Canada and around the world. Each project will involve collaborations between the company leading the development of the technology, an end user, and a university or college. To satisfy the objectives of the program, projects will incorporate intelligent systems in environmental technologies. To qualify for the funding, applicants will develop a research project that demonstrates the “proof-of-principle” of their technology, a key step in the progress of the technology toward full commercialization.

Under this important initiative – which is administered by OCETA – Precarn will provide up to $300,000 over three years, which will be matched by OCETA and OCE, together. Contributions by participating companies will augment the total investment to approximately $1 million. Individual companies will be able to participate by providing about one third of the total for a project valued up to $100,000.

For more information please contact:
Steve Guerin
General Manager ETV Canada
PoP Research Program Co-ordinator
2070 Hadwen Road, Unit 201A
Mississauga, Ontario L5K 2C9
Phone: 905-822-4133 x228
Fax: 905-822-3558
E-mail: sguerin@oceta.on.ca
Websites: www.etvcanada.ca and www.oceta.on.ca