26 November 2009

OCAD Health Summit a Success

Cultural Knowledge and the Healthy Society closed yesterday, having generated some great discussion on the role of design research in healthcare. The program featured many excellent speakers from a wide range of disciplines in health, human factors and design, all oriented toward finding meaningful ways to work together to promote a healthy society. Debate and discussion resulted in solid foundations for future partnerships as well as raising the issues of interprofessional research and the importance of design disciplines in the Canadian innovation agenda. Watch this space, as well as OCAD, for more results as they emerge.

17 November 2009

Report on Colleges and the Polytechnics Canada Showcase

Today's Globe and Mail contains the Report on Colleges, which outlines several key advantages of college education and applied research. The latter story outlines some of the many interesting applied research stories being sponsored across the country, including through the NSERC College and Community Innovation Program. The former outlines how many university graduates, for example, go to colleges following convocation to obtain the job-ready skills for which college programs are noted - this is the principle behind innovation literacy. There is also an interview with Algonquin College president Robert Gillet on the Polytechnics Canada consortium, which is a good segue into a reminder of the annual Polytechnics Canada Science and Technology Showcase being held at Seneca College on 27 November.
The event will begin with a reception on the evening of Thursday, November 26 (from 5 to 8 pm) and continues with a full day event for Friday, November 27.

The topic of this year’s Showcase is “Igniting Innovation” and has been chosen to demonstrate how our institutions are positioning our SME partners for success, and adding to their competitive edge.

This annual event showcases winning applied research projects being conducted by the faculty and students of our member institutes; and convenes a policy discussion amongst Presidents of our institutes, industry leaders (often SME representatives), officials from government and granting agencies.
Our keynote speakers on November 27 will be:
  • Hon. Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, and Member of Parliament for Cambridge, Ontario  
  • John Breakey, CEO of UNIS LUMIN and Chair, Colleges Ontario Network for Industrial Innovation’s Industry Strategy Committee
An afternoon panel discussion will focus on the important role that polytechnics and colleges play in preparing Canada’s future workforce for industry innovation, by providing students with applied research experience.

The Showcase will also feature some of the winners of the latest round of the College Community Innovation Program of NSERC.

This event is sponsored by Polytechnics Canada and attendance is open to everyone at no cost.

11 November 2009

Global cities, productivity, and innovation

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development launched their Territorial Review of Toronto at the Toronto Forum For Global Cities, held over the past two days. Among the many findings is the widely reported loss of productivity that traffic jams cause the city, in which home to "a fifth of national GDP, and 45% of Ontario’s GDP [and] 40% of the nation’s business headquarters."

The conference offered many good insights on the role of cities in the world economy, set against the backdrop of increasing urbanization and the estimate that, by 2050, 70% of the world's population will be living in cities. Thus the theme of the conference was how to improve the cities in which we live and work "in the post-bailout era" that will see governments of all levels struggling with increasing large debt loads.

Bill Hutchison of Waterfront Toronto was among the many presenters. Hutchison presented the vision for the revitalization of the Toronto Waterfront, where GBC is building our new campus. Called the “The Intelligent Community Open Architecture” (see image), the idea is that space and place are the foundations around which coalesce the social, economic and cultural development of the innovation economy.

Other panels that stand out include on on "Smarter Economic Development," which featured Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade and New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham. While the focus was on varying levels of government, there was also good discussion on the role of post-secondary education and the development of a highly skilled and talented workforce. As noted in earlier posts, colleges are key to Canadian educational attainment figures ,and our graduates - 70% of the work force - are key innovation instigators.

Robert Reich, Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, gave a keynote talk on Competing in an Innovation-Intensive Economy, in which he spoke about the role of innovation in the economy of the future. Reich spoke of the need to avoid decisions that could compromise our long term ability to invest in citizens, education and health. Early childhood education was singled out as a key investment/enabler, echoing Martin and Florida's Creativity report. Governments must invest in research, human capital and infrastructure, Reich intoned, warning that "the biggest enemy of innovation is past success." That is, we must not be complacent as we orient ourselves toward public private partnerships in support of the innovation economy.

04 November 2009

Inside ACCC outlines applied research advocacy

The latest issue of Inside ACCC - the Association of Canadian Community College's newsletter - links to a story in the Hill Times by ACCC President James Knight that outlines the value proposition of college applied research. In "Goodyear should look to Canada’s colleges, institutes and polytechnics to get innovations ‘out the door'," Knight says
Colleges, institutes and polytechnics are leaders in applied research and technology transfer, yet the role of these institutions in Canada’s research and development agenda is not adequately understood. They help businesses start, develop and grow, and are vital contributors to our innovation system. Building on a half-century of experience, they embody an enormous concentration of expertise on the application of technology to process improvement and product development. They are graduating our next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. More than any other institutions, they are key to improving Canada’s lagging productivity.

Improving productivity is essential if Canada is to compete in the innovation economy. The innovation economy is both a driver and an outgrowth of a knowledge- based society that requires us to ensure our graduates are not only content experts in their fields of choice, but also expert learners, able to adapt to our changing world. By directly involving our students in applied research we promote innovation literacy, producing graduates who have research, problem solving, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, along with the ability to recognize innovation in their work contexts. This is in addition to the job-ready skills our graduates already possess.

The ACCC has established a Science and Technology committee "to strengthen the position of colleges, institutes and polytechnics within Canada’s science, technology and research agenda and to access sustained funding." Access to secure funding for college applied research is one tenet of the ACCC advocacy agenda.