30 April 2008

News release from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

McGuinty Government Investing In Research And Innovation To Create Jobs


A tax exemption that encourages businesses to bring the research of universities and colleges to market and a 45-day service guarantee on the $1.15 billion Next Generation of Jobs Fund are two North American “firsts” and key pillars of Ontario’s innovation agenda, which was unveiled today [29 April 2008] in Ottawa.

Supported by close to $3 billion in spending over eight years, the agenda builds on the strength of Ontario’s creative environment, diverse culture, highly skilled workforce, world-class educational system and internationally recognized research community.

Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson presented the guiding principles for Ontario’s innovation agenda today. It includes:

  • Government acting as a catalyst for innovation and commercialization – and committing the necessary resources to do this effectively
  • Investing significantly in peer-reviewed research excellence that will create jobs, a cleaner environment and better healthcare for Ontario families
  • Focusing government investments on research and industries where Ontario has a global competitive advantage
  • Streamlining and modernizing government programs and processes to move faster – at the speed of business
  • Partnering with business to better communicate Ontario’s research strengths and innovation success stories to the world.

The innovation agenda is a key driver of the government’s five-point plan for Ontario’s economy that is investing in skills and education, accelerating provincial investments in infrastructure, lowering business costs and strengthening key partnerships to maximize Ontario’s potential, as well as supporting innovation.

“Ontario’s innovation agenda is a fundamental part of Ontario’s five-point economic plan, which will help us sustain the high quality of life that we enjoy today -- and create the high-value jobs of the future,” said Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson.

“We’re proud to have a long history of innovation in Ontario – pioneering researchers and business champions have brought the world revolutionary products like the BlackBerry and the Canadarm. Today we're sending the message to researchers and companies around the world that if you've got an innovative project that will build on our research strengths and create jobs, we'll make it happen in Ontario,” said Madeleine Meilleur, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier.


  • 59 per cent of all foreign venture capital into Canada flows to Ontario.
  • If the Great Lakes region was its own country, it would be the second largest economic unit on earth, second only to the U.S. economy and bigger than Japan, China and India.
  • The Canadian digital media industry is concentrated in Ontario, with Toronto representing about 40 per cent of all firms. There are approximately 800 firms employing 18,000 people within the GTA.
  • Pharmaceutical R&D expenditures in Ontario doubled in the last decade to nearly $550 million, with 40 per cent of Canada’s leading pharmaceutical companies located in Ontario.

Learn More about Ontario’s Innovation Agenda

Learn More about Ontario’s Next Generation of Jobs Fund

Learn how Ontario’s Budget 2008 is supporting innovation

Perry BlocherMinistry of Research and Innovation416-326-7717
Sandra WattsMinister’s Office416-314-7067
Disponible en fran├žais

29 April 2008

Applied Research and Innovation Rounds

Office of Applied Research and Innovation – May 20 Innovation Rounds
What do organic candies, emotional intelligence, Miocene faunal structure, and statistical literacy have in-common? They were all 2007 Office of Applied Research and Innovation seed funded projects.
Please join the Office of Applied Research and Innovation for our May 20th Innovation Rounds and find out the outcomes of our 2007 Seed Funded Projects.
Date: May 20, 2008
Time: Noon to 2:00 pm
Location: Casa Loma Campus, Room TBA
Lunch will be served

Space is limited, so please RSVP by May 16, 2008 to

24 April 2008

What is Innovation?

What is Innovation?, an event held yesterday by CONII and Polytechnics Canada member Humber College, explored this question and articulated the value proposition of college applied research within the innovation chain, particularly with respect to working with SMEs. Held at the Orangeville campus, the event was sponsored by the town of Orangeville, Innovation Humber, and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. In attendance were faculty and staff from Humber, representatives of the Orangeville Small Business Enterprise Centre, the OCE, other CONII members and business owners.

I spoke with one such business owner who makes board games - one just about to hit the market, who made several good points about the capacity of colleges to fill an important gap in the innovation-to-market spectrum. He was referred to the event by the Orangeville Small Business Enterprise Centre, which works with Innovation Humber to link businesses in need of applied research services with Humber faculty and staff expertise. The business owner said that he could outsource his manufacturing to offshore locations, but he "wants to help Ontario manufacturing industries by keeping the work here." "The profit margins are smaller," he said, "but you have to put people before profits." He went on to say that he wished he had known about Innovation Humber and the college applied research services a year ago. He could have saved money, and moved his prototypes into production much more quickly.

"Innovation happens where change is needed," said Robert Taweel, Innovation Humber's Industry Liaison Officer. Like spring, change is in the air as college research moves into position to help Ontario's small businesses remain competitive in a global marketplace.

17 April 2008

"The Topography of Innovation"

University of Toronto president David Naylor has an interesting article in this month's UofT Magazine, called "The Topography of Innovation." In the article, Naylor addresses Canada's poor performance in the OECD ranking and the need for the federal granting councils to focus on funding basic research without having to worry about downstream economic and industrial benefits. While I disagree that the granting councils should be solely concerned with "upstream . . . knowledge generation" as he puts it, Naylor does rightly say that "we need dedicated commercialization agencies and infrastructure" that can turn work within the R&D landscape to ensure we can exploit Canadian research that has potential economic benefits.

College applied research centres can fill this role. While there is perhaps a false distinction between basic and applied research at times, there are complementary roles that each kind of institution (university+college) can play in the innovation spectrum. Colleges are relatively new to research, and universities have been worried that this is just more competition for scarce research funding. This is wrong thinking. If we can, as a nation, promote the notion of complementarity (the oft-cited collaborate to compete model), then we can see the university and college research labs as articulated within one long value chain aimed at creating new knowledge and applying this into industrial contexts. Such distributed research networks have the potential to lift Canada out of our innovation doldrums.

10 April 2008

The Hill Times Innovation issue and the Health Innovation and Policy Summit

The Hill Times has published their issue on innovation in Canada. Articles include Industry Canada Minister Prentice on his approach to innovation ("Innovation Nation") and Finance Minister Flaherty on creating the "knowledge advantage", as well as others. Notable is a piece by Canada Health Infoway's Richard Alvarez on the interdisciplinary side effects of innovation in health care. It's worth a look for anyone interested in innovation and the Science and Technology Strategy in Canada.

And speaking of innovation in health care, an upcoming conference in Toronto will be of interest to any working in this area. The Health Innovation and Policy Summit is being held 30 April to 1 May in downtown Toronto, and features an excellent line-up of speakers.

08 April 2008

Seed Funding Available for Applied Research Projects

The George Brown College Office of Applied Research and Innovation is please to announce the availability of seed funding for applied research projects. George Brown College is committed to pursuing and conducting applied research projects that support the development of our community, respond to current industry needs and provide learning opportunities for students.

Projects must involve an industry or community partner, as well as students. Preference will be given to projects that are likely to lead to further funding, and/or are multi- or inter-disciplinary.

During this first of two RFP rounds, $50,000 will be available for applied research projects. Applicants can apply for up to $7,500 and will need to show what their total expected costs are, what they are requesting from GBC Applied Research, and what other sources of funding they have, including in-kind from industry partners, if applicable.

The due date for completed application forms is 1 May 2008.

Application forms for GBC faculty and staff are at this URL: http://www.georgebrown.ca/applied-research/request4proposals.aspx

Engineering health systems research

Yesterday's Report on Business had a section on Health Innovations, which included an interesting article on Electronic Health Records (EHR), and a good piece on how "Engineering techniques can be used to eliminate inefficiencies in Canada's health care system." The latter highlights the new University of Toronto Centre for Research in Healthcare Engineering. Michael Carter, CRHE Director, outlines in the article the ad hoc history how the Canadian healthcare system has been configured, and how engineering can be used to solve inefficiencies. As Carter says, "Nobody ever designed the health care system. Nobody ever sat down and said, 'This is how we should deliver care.' It's sort of piecemeal."

This is an important front in health and human services research. It's time to take a systems view of how healthcare can function - the Health Canada Interprofessional Education for Collaborative Patient-Centred Practice envelope is one part of this effort. This requires complex change management, strong leadership (political and institutional), and a commitment to patient care within a collective effort at change in health systems and human services, health promotion, patient empowerment, and health systems utilization. GBC Health Sciences have a strong base of faculty interested in research in the health and human services fields, including working proactively to anticipate change in the healthcare environment of the future, particularly as this involves the increasing use of health information technologies. Some of these issues were raised at the CONII Health Sciences Node Symposium. We have an opportunity to participate in health systems change. Our applied research facilities and capabilities are complementary to work being done at the CRHE.