19 April 2010

FedDev announces $15M to support Applied Research and Commercialization Initiative

Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear announced today $15M in funding for the Applied Research and Commercialization Initiative, sponsored by the Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). The ARC Initiative is a significant opportunity to engage the academic and business communities in supporting the innovation economy and the jobs of tomorrow. The objective of this new initiative is to bring together the business and academic communities in collaborative relationships in order to engage in applied research and commercialization activities to develop new products, processes and practices. Polytechnics Canada calls this an "Innovation Game-Changer", and the program will greatly assist the innovation system in southern Ontario to meet the immediate industrial applied research needs of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region.

The ARC Initiative is a pilot program open to all industrial sectors, from those supported in the Science and Technology Strategy to new, emergent sectors where SMEs are located and doing business in Southern Ontario. Funds will help mobilize faculty expertise in the polytechnics, colleges and universities to accelerate innovation in support of job creation and improved productivity. This new format for funding the innovation chain makes a direct link between college applied research and regional economic development, and showcases the value applied research has to industry partners.

The program will continue to build applied research capacity at Ontario’s research-ready colleges and expose students to hands-on applied research by solving timely, practical problems for local industry. The program will provide crucial front-end R&D support for SMEs struggling with minimal working capital. It also complements the NSERC College and Community Innovation Program. The ARC Initiative continues the federal government's  support of the applied research and experimental development components of the R&D continuum and will enhance industry investment in R&D overall.

13 April 2010

Open Innovation [reprise]

With thanks to Andrew Jenkins, member of GBC's Innovation Advisory Board, for sending me this link to an excellent article: Open Innovation: from marginal to mainstream. Open innovation is a topic I've written about a few times, and refers to a collaborative, open source approach to the business of innovation - the concept of complementarity that governs our interconnectedness with other R&D organizations

05 April 2010

Productivity, and why it matters

I was remiss in commenting a week or so ago when Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney commented on the sorry state of Canadian productivity. Needless to say, it's sobering to learn that Canada's productivity continues to plummet. Carney's comments that business needs to do more were met by protestations from some in industry. Regardless, the need to increase Canadian productivity is real. Today's Report on Business has a good op-ed from Gwyn Morgan on Why productivity gains should matter to Canadians.  A short while ago I referenced Kevin Lynch's article on our innovation deficit, and here is another piece he has written on Canada's Productivity Trap. Both Lynch and Morgan are aligned on the need to encourage education and innovation as ways to escape this productivity trap. Ontario's recent budget has a very strong and necessary focus on education, and perhaps most importantly in this area, better articulation of credit transfer among Ontario post-secondary institutions. We can liken the coming seismic post-secondary education sector changes in Ontario to moving from a feudal to a federated system. This evolution to an integrated innovation/education system will ensure our population has the education and skills to compete in the innovation economy.

Morgan closes his column with a definition of productivity from "the website of the National Trade Union Congress of Mauritius:"

"Productivity is a process of continuous improvement in the production/supply of quality output/service through efficient, effective use of inputs; with the emphasis on teamwork for the betterment of all."