03 December 2007

Showcase a success

The Second Annual Polytechnics Canada Science and Technology Showcase held last Thursday at George Brown was a success. The event featured speakers from government (Matthew King, Assistant Deputy Minister, Science & Innovation Sector, Industry Canada) funders (Suzanne Corbeil, Vice-President, External Relations and Communications, Canada Foundation for Innovation) and industry (Jeff Timms, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Siemens Energy & Automation). George Brown's President Anne Sado introduced the day, setting the stage for discussion on Canada's Science and Technology Strategy and the role of Polytechnic applied research in enhancing Canada's productivity. Presentations and posters by each of the Polytechnics gave attendees a sense of the kinds of applied research presently being conducted at the seven institutions, as well as to their collective capabilities.

A highlight of the day was a respondent panel composed of Phil Baker, President and CEO of Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network; Walter Stewart, Senior Advisor, Toronto Region Research Alliance; and Dan Donovan, Vice-President Business Affairs, Energy-FX. The panel gave insights on the presentations and the position of the Polytechnics in Canada's R&D scene. A lively discussion as to the need for partnership and collaboration, public funding (as in the US defence R&D spending) and the need to move forward "at warp speed" offered an excellent finish to a compelling look at the role of Polytechnic applied research in Canada's national strategy.

And speaking of events, a week prior I attended the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators annual conference, hosted by York University here in Toronto. Of note was a lunch keynote by Mark Romoff, CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence. Romoff discussed the OCE's investment strategy (aligned with federal and provincial funding avenues) as enabling "technology transfer through knowledge transfer." Perhaps most significantly, he also outlined the need to get past inter-provincial competitiveness and to start thinking nationally in order to compete globally.

These events, and other meetings I've been attending recently, all feature the need to find ways to measure the effectiveness of research funding - measuring the outputs of research so as to quantify or qualify our success. These metrics are useful for internal and external marketing, as well as for contributing to the national agenda of increasing our productivity.

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