26 February 2009

GBC Research Labs awarded CCI funding

The GBC Research Labs proposal to the first round of the NSERC College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program has been approved. Read the NSERC press release.

The program and the award were announced last night at a special event as part of the ACCC Applied Research Symposium (I'll post a full report on this later.)

We are looking forward to initiating our work as outlined in the proposal, and continuing our capacity development for applied research complementarity in the Toronto region.

Here is our proposal summary:
George Brown College (GBC) is developing its applied research, innovation and commercialization capacity by creating the GBC Research Labs to serve the needs of industry and community partners. Our core areas of research are health & information technologies and health promotion, which are well-aligned with GBC's Strategic Plan and the needs of these significant local sectors. Continuing and proposed projects emphasize multidisciplinary problem-solving and opportunity development for industry in our region, and investigate: health systems change management, utilization and human services; health promotion; medical devices, prosthetics and aids; and, prototyping for health technology development and health informatics. We conduct research in collaboration with SMEs, larger companies, health care agencies and other research institutes. We help foster adoption of new devices and systems, better patient outcomes as well as adaptation and integration of new technologies/practices into health care and health promotion. CCI funds, most importantly, will enable us to more adequately release faculty to work on current/new projects and engage with industry partners. It will also provide for student stipends, the development of a Research Partnerships Portal and the implementation of our SME Engagement Plan. Local industry will benefit from a suite of Innovation Support Services to help accelerate the innovation-to-market cycle, including: Innovation Receptor Support Services (Problem/ Opportunity Identification, Faculty/Industry Brokering, Concept Development, Market Research, and Team Mobilization); Multidisciplinary Collaborative Problem-Solving (multidisciplinary assessment on design and prototype development, validating usability and testing market potential); and, Innovation-Market Assessment Services (evaluating usability/market demand and strategic fit with potential investors). Our motivated faculty and students, various unique facilities, strong industry partnerships and leadership in applied research capacity development at the national and provincial levels position us well to strongly leverage CCI program support to further the growth of applied research, innovation and commercialization at George Brown College.
As I noted during my presentation at the symposium, I will be making our full proposal publicly available as part of our website. Please contact me if you would like a copy in the meantime.

19 February 2009

Dr Andrew Sharpe to speak to GBC's Innovation Advisory Board, Feb 23rd. 11-1230

Dr Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, will address The GBC Applied Research Innovation Advisory Board. Dr Sharpe will provide a unique economist perspective on productivity, labour markets, innovation and the role Colleges play in supporting it. Here is a brief bio of Andrew:

Andrew Sharpe is Executive Director of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS), a research organization he founded in 1995. He has held a variety of earlier positions, including Head of Research and Editor, Quarterly Labour Market and Productivity Review at the Canadian Labour Market and Productivity Centre and Chief, Business Sector Analysis at the Department of Finance. He is a past President of the Canadian Association for Business Economics (1992-94), was as a founding editor of Canadian Business Economics from 1992 to 1998 and is founder of the International Productivity Monitor. He received a Ph.D in Economics from McGill University in 1982.
He will address the Innovation Advisory Board from 11AM - 1230. A lunch will be served following the talk. The event is being held at 250 Yonge Street, 35th Floor, Collaboration Boardroom. The GBC Research and Innovation Innovation Advisory Board is a sector-driven governance for our business development.

17 February 2009

Mobile Experience Innovation Centre Outreach and Orientation

The  Mobile Experience Innovation Centre is hosting an information session at the George Brown College School of Design, Thursday 19 February 2009, 230 Richmond Street East, from, 4PM-530PM. Please RSVP to mperras@ocad.ca. 

A partnership of industry and academic organizations actively involved in the mobile content and services space, the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre is a centre of excellence for applied research, design and commercialization. Focusing on the role of user experience and usability design, the commercialization capabilities of advanced mobile and embedded services and content, and the value of strategic foresight in cultivating a climate of innovation, the industry-academic and industry-industry linkages of the MEIC will sustain and build capacity for excellence in mobile design and innovation, with a scope both local and international.

12 February 2009

Darwinian R&D or, the ecology of innovation

On this the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, articles about a Darwinian approach to the economic meltdown are appearing as part of a capitalization on the event itself commensurate with a need to find ways to explain how best to fix the economy. A good example in today's Report on Business is an article about "The Natural Selector" and Darwin's approach to business. It echoes the oft-reported sentiment that businesses and banks should be left to fail as these are part of the natural order of things.

The set-up is trenchant:

What would Darwin have done?

If Charles Darwin were alive today, the scientific genius who gave the world the theory of natural selection would be on the prowl for businesses that make themselves fit for survival by adapting nimbly to change.*

Adapting to change in the current economic climate means focusing R&D efforts, already articulated in the federal Science and Technology Strategy. It also means paying attention to the environment of innovation where multiple facets of the R&D innovation chain can articulate social and economic productivity by working together. This "ecology of innovation" is the collaborate to compete or open source model that has emerged along with the Internet as a viable way of fostering what Chesbrough has called open innovation.

Speaking of which, Internet pioneer Mark Cuban has announced his own personal stimulus plan which he calls Open Source Funding. Call this an adaptive approach to start-up development.

As Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change."

Happy Darwin Day.

05 February 2009

Creativity and innovation literacy

Roger Martin and Richard Florida of the Martin Prosperity Institute today launched their report on Ontario's economy. Commissioned by Premier McGuinty, the Ontario in the Creative Age project outlines their call for the promotion of creativity - brains over brawn - as the main driver of the economy. The launch today was hosted by the Economic Club of Toronto and was sponsored by Porter Airlines. Martin and Florida's thesis is that we need to move from the knowledge based economy into the idea based economy - where knowledge is applied and ideation encouraged in all aspects of every work place. Their ambitious goal is to have 70% of the workforce with a post secondary education would result in 50% of the population in creativity jobs by 2020. Kudos to them for focusing on the role of education - university, college, secondary, and especially early childhood - as the route to social and economic prosperity. Their focus on creativity aligns well with the concept of innovation literacy, or what Florida today referred to as "social intelligence skills": the ability to apply analytic skills to job functions, to motivate teams, and to build organizational capacity. The rise in creativity is commensurate with the need to fine tune our economy and to look to the future needs of the world economy for context.

04 February 2009

Applied Research in the News

The Globe and Mail today published a Report on Colleges, which included a story on the role of applied research, particularly as it relates to polytechnics. "Innovation in the 'dead zone'" outlines how college and polytechnics applied research fills a gap in the product development life cycle. This is the notion of complementarity that I have written about in other posts. With government funding programs in place that enable colleges to work with industry, we become stewards of public investment in the R&D innovation chain. This is an important role, and encouraging this investment and the formation of clusters (what the EU calls Regions of Knowledge) will spur the development of the infrastructure to enable Canada to advance its social and economic productivity.