08 December 2010

There's no recession in research: Report from Innovation 2010

ACCT Canada's conference Innovation 2010 concluded yesterday having featured some excellent discussions on building out the Canadian innovation system. Coming on the heels of the successful Polytechnics Canada Showcase, Innovation 2010 brought together R&D professionals from across the country to talk about action steps for continuing to build a complementary R&D system in the country. This is a good evolution from my first experience with the ACCT conference where the discussion was about why collaborate in the PSE sector to how should we collaborate to better enable industry to get inventions and innovations to market.

There were many excellent presentations and discussions - the format was particularly amenable to fostering lots of good dialog. Several things stuck out for me: SSHRC President Chad Gaffield spoke of the emergence of "people centred innovation" that he feels defines the 21st century. This resonates with me strongly given my own focus on human-centred design and how GBC Research integrates this into our approach to the diffusion of innovation. Steven Liss, VPR Queen's University, talked about how we should "own the podium" with respect to R&D and its commercialization. This echoes the "aggressive commercialization" that John Molloy (Partek, also at Queen's) made (see my note on my R&D Panel submission). Owning the podium means we need to pick winners and set priorities,which is in contrast to the usual approach Canada takes where we seek fair representation from all regions/sectors.

The title of this post is taken from a comment said to me by Brian Barber, VP of UHN's Development Corporation. He was referring to the fact that, even though there is a world wide recession that is impacting the availability of capital to take ideas to market, there is no shortage of ideas emerging from the research labs and industry partners we collectively engage with. This is a good reminder to focus our innovation efforts well.

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