29 May 2008

23 May 2008

Polytechnics Canada conference: Real solutions for productivity pressures

Polytechnics Canada convened its annual conference in Calgary over the past two days, meeting at the SAIT Polytechnic campus to discuss "Canada's Shortage of Skilled Workers: How Polytechnics Provide a Solution." The conference was an opportunity for the Polytechnics members to meet to discuss our objectives for the coming year, and to hear from several speakers on the role of Polytechnics in Canada's productivity. Today's first speaker was the Honourable Mote Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Minister Solberg outlined the productivity gaps in Canada and how we need to seriously increase our education and training efforts to ensure that all Canadians can participate meaningfully in the economy. Calling for "new approaches and partnerships to meet the labour market challenges of today and tomorrow," Minister Solberg outlined his government's plans for addressing skills shortages through targeted programs designed to counteract our "mediocre productivity performance."

All speakers made clear the connection between the Polytechnic advantage of offering relevant skills training and applied research, filling important gaps in the R&D spectrum in Canada. The educational ecosystem in Canada benefits from the kind of "biodiversity" the Polytechnics bring to the mix.

The Research Committee set objectives for the coming year that will help us build on the concept of Innovation literacy: the ability to think creatively, evaluate, and apply problem-solving skills to diverse and intangible issues within industrial problems and multidisciplinary contexts. We believe that fostering innovation literacy in our highly qualified and skilled graduates is a key differentiator of the Polytechnic advantage, particularly as regards applied research conducted in close concert with industry and community needs.

Innovation literacy is the cornerstone of our new Research Commercialization and Innovation program which we are launching in January 2009.

14 May 2008

Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery 08

The Ontario Centres of Excellence(OCE) Discovery 08 conference was held over the past two days, bringing together representatives from the entire R&D spectrum. The event is a great opportunity to meet other research institutions, investors, business owners and government representatives who are part of the innovation chain in Ontario. GBC Research had a booth at Discovery, which was a great success in making new contacts and showcasing the work we do across our network of labs. We also participated in the CONII booth, which also garnered a lot of interest in the applied research capabilities of Ontario's colleges. Colleges offer "last mile" R&D services to industry and academic partners - a topic I will be speaking at later this week at the UofT. In his introductory remarks yesterday, OCE CEO Mark Romoff asked "Where's Next?", challenging the crowd to look for ideas to take to the next level. This is our collective responsibility, a message echoed by the lunch time address by MRI's Minister John Wilkinson. The collective effort to exercise all aspects of the R&D spectrum will aid Ontario's - and Canada's - productivity.

12 May 2008

George Brown College Launches Post-Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialization and Innovation

The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration today announced funding for GBC's new program in Research Commercialization and Innovation. The new Ontario post-graduate certificate program will offer a tailored program for internationally trained individuals with advanced research, technology or engineering degrees the entrepreneurial/small business, project management, language, proposal development and fund management skills necessary to work in the applied research or commercialization field in Canada. The program will also be available for Canadian students wishing to apply their learning into practical R&D projects as they learn about the innovation to market cycle. We're fostering innovation literacy for Canada's productivity.

06 May 2008

NSERC posts International Review report

The following was released yesterday by NSERC:

NSERC today posted the final report of the first of two major reviews of the Discovery Grants Program along with a statement (video [http://www.nserc.ca/about/plans_priorities_video_message_e.asp] and text [http://www.nserc.ca/about/plans_priorities_message_e.html]) from President Suzanne Fortier.The much anticipated report of the International Review Committee provides exhaustive evidence for the program’s success in supporting high quality, internationally competitive research and for its foundational role in supporting Canadian research and training in science and engineering. The committee, which was chaired by Dr. Peter Nicholson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Canadian Academies, also makes recommendations to enhance the program.Visit the NSERC consultation pages [http://www.nserc.ca/about/consultations_e.asp] for the complete report [http://www.nserc.ca/about/PDF/international_review_e.pdf] and its supporting appendices, as well as an update [http://www.nserc.ca/about/plans_priorities_next_e.html] on the second review, which is examining the Discovery Grants peer review system.

01 May 2008

Going where the puck will be

The Economic Club of Toronto yesterday hosted John Wilkinson, Minister of Research and Innovation for Ontario, in a lunch time address. Minister Wilkinson's speech outlined how the Ontario government is investing in R&D in the province, and made reference to the recently announced Ontario Innovation Tax Credit program and the innovation priorities of the McGuinty government. The government seeks to become a "catalyst for change" in fostering innovation and economic productivity, where "basic and applied science are not interfered with by political science." Wilkinson outlined the government's plans to do a better job at fostering research excellence and extracting value - and jobs - from research. His challenge to the audience was to work together to do a better job at telling our research success stories, and to "go where the puck will be, not where it is now" (citing Walter Gretzky's advice).

This fits with the idea that innovation is almost always recognized ex post facto, but that we need to be proactive in our investment of time, energy and resources in assessing where we can, as Wilkinson noted, "be in the top 3 in the world." This is a good strategy, and Wilkinson made reference to research conducted in colleges, universities, research hospitals and institutes as forming part of the total research and development capacity in Ontario. The explicit recognition of all facets of the R&D pipeline that includes college applied research is part of a fundamental strategy to organize the network effects of utilizing the diverse and complementary capabilities of the innovation spectrum, all oriented toward increased productivity for Ontario and Canada.