24 September 2010

Innovation needs a backbone

ORION's new CEO Darin Graham spoke to the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance earlier this week on the topic "Innovation needs a backbone." Graham's talk was an excellent call to industry to invest in R&D, as well as for those of us in the public innovation support sector to work together in supporting industry innovation. ORION provides the necessary ICT capacity to enable collaboration in the public R&D sector, and opening this up to the private sector is a good example of what a P3RD (see "the innovation equation") innovation support system can be.

Graham reminded us that innovation does not inherently exist in the universities and colleges; rather, it is inherent in the people who go there - the students, faculty and our industry partners. He also reminded us that innovation in not invention. Innovation has outcomes in the realization of social and/or economic value. Fostering innovation is at once as easy as enabling serendipity and interprofessional collaborations, but as difficult as doing this in a world of competing values, cultures ("academic: publish or perish versus private: profit or perish") and priorities. To enable innovation we need transparency in terms of our interface among organizations (c.f. brokering R&D relationships) and in our approach to intellectual property. This form of open innovation will push productivity improvements through a complementary approach to enabling industry innovation through a robust innovation infrastructure, in this case the ICT products and services that are the interface to collaboration as well as the locus of R&D development itself.

And while we are on the topic of enabling innovation, here is a link to a recent article that reinforces the need to invest in education as a main driver for an innovative economy. This includes integrating immigrants into the work force and addressing the skills gap and skills shortages we face. Ensuring we have highly qualified and skilled people with innovation literacy across all economic sectors will help lift Canada's poor productivity performance.

20 September 2010

Education In Formation [reprise]

Here's a link to a good op-ed piece by Todd Hirsch that details issues relevant to the transformation of our education system to meet both the skills gap and skills shortages many forecast are on our immediate horizon. Hirsch outlines an important precept of education: we must prepare graduates with transformational and translational skills that go beyond work as a noun, and give students an understanding of seeking "a career as something you do, rather than something you are." By this Hirsch means a broader interpretation of skills - what we call innovation literacy - that enables people to think of their work in terms of flexibility. Entrepreneurship is one trait that spans many disciplines. Hirsch reminds us that this means people who can "manage, help, create, design."

These are the skills of the innovation economy.

15 September 2010

Public Policy Forum, the innovation system, productivity

The Public Policy Forum convened a workshop on Monday regarding the linking of industry and academic communities. The session was well attended and had a very good focus on complementarity, and providing industry with an "any point of entry" solutions-oriented approach to improving R&D in Ontario. Relevant to this ongoing discussion is an article in today`s Report on Business: Canada's productivity trap: Recovery running on 'sweat and toil ... not brains and innovation'. It is yet another wake up call for Canadian industries to invest in new technology, one of the surest ways to increase productivity.

08 September 2010

Ryerson's DMZ focuses on applied research

Here's an article on Ryerson's Digital Media Zone - announced some time last year - that focuses nicely on the role of applied research and engaging students in addressing industry problem solving. The piece is a nice example of how applied research is oriented toward innovation support activities, and not supplanting basic research. Both are required to support productivity growth. The Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII) was established for this purpose: to be an explicit instrument for industry problem solving as complementary to the R&D innovation system in Ontario.

03 September 2010

Mapping innovation

Two stories this week on mapping innovation relevant to George Brown College's efforts on the innovation front:

The first is the launch of the “Toronto Labour History Walking Tours” map, on which GBC professors played a pivotal role, lets people navigate the city while learning about key labour events in Toronto's history. This is one of many examples of our support and commitment to social innovation.

The second is a story in the Globe regarding Geographical Information Systems, their use and proliferation, and impact on productivity. GBC Research is supporting Canadian GIS company Infonaut in the testing of their innovative GIS-based solutions for health care and infectious disease management.We have been working with Infonaut since 2009.