30 August 2011

Infonaut CEO Niall Wallace on Innovation, Healthcare

Infonaut  CEO Niall Wallace is featured on The Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation website in a good post about what Infonaut is doing to promote innovation in healthcare in the province. GBC Research has been supporting Infonaut's applied research and innovation for the past few years; their product is a game changer that will result in saving lives and money in our healthcare system.

New Waterfront Campus one year from opening

Join us today at Sherbourne Common Park to celebrate the one year count down to opening our new Waterfront health Sciences Campus. Today's Globe has an interview with GBC President Anne Sado discussing the new campus and its focus on interprofessional health sciences education. The new campus will also feature significant new applied research capacity for GBC; it will be the nucleus of the Interprofessional Online Research and Technology Assessment Lab (I-PORTAL).

I-PORTAL will be a prominent element within George Brown College's East Bayfront Campus currently being built on the Toronto waterfront. This new campus will see the consolidation and further integration of GBC's health sciences education and training programs, with an even greater emphasis on interprofessional health care practices (building upon GBC's leading Interprofessional Learning Centre). I-PORTAL will form part of the GBC Research Labs and encompass new or expanded clinical simulation, visualization, prototype fabrication, design studio, operational community clinic and incubator/accelerator business venture development infrastructure that accesses the realistic training facilities serving our educational mandate. The Waterfront Campus will be the centrepiece of our business innovation support, and will be linked through cutting edge networking and video conferencing to advanced prototyping facilities at our Casa Loma and St James campuses, and our world-leading prosthetics and orthotics clinical, education and applied research facility at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Together, these areas will offer local industry a prominent point of access to all of our applied research and innovation support services through the revitalized port lands on the Toronto Waterfront. 

10 August 2011

GBC Chef School receives food research funding to support Ontario food markets

George Brown College's Chef School is the recipient of funding to enhance the use of Ontario food products at the college and within industry. The project continues the Chef School's innovative approach to industry-focused teaching and learning while helping generate economic benefit for Ontario. Funding from the Broader Public Sector Investment Fund was announced at teh Chefs' House yesterday by Carol Mitchell, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who was joined by MRI Minister Glen Murray. Read the press release and the Globe story on the announcement.

08 August 2011

Canada needs to think about R&D ROI3

Saturday's Globe and Mail has an interview with the National Research Council's president John McDougall, who offers a very refreshing perspective on the need for Canada to make choices around the R&D we finance. Echoing statements I've made in this space myself, McDougall says that we should be looking for a return on investment for our R&D efforts, and directing the use of public monies into those areas that Canada needs addressing and can excel in. While his choices of areas may not be to everyone's liking, the idea of directive research efforts is something Canada would do well to listen to. While our ratio of HERD spending per capita is fourth in the OECD, our GDP is not large enough to enable unfettered research in all areas. McDougall decries the "slice and dice" mentality Canada brings to the distribution of funding, and posits that correcting this is one way to address our long standing innovation gap: “We’re dealing with limited resources, and it’s not as if there is a mattress full of money that keeps replenishing itself. We’ve got to get value out of it.”

As the article notes, this is a fairly controversial stance. Regardless, kudos to McDougall for addressing the need to balance our commitment to funding all basic research with the very real need to turn Canada's brightest minds to addressing significant problems we face as a country.

Canada's enviable status at the top of the world research heap is to be commended, but it is time for us to make concerted efforts at producing results based on this deep pool of excellence. Part of the issue here. McDougall notes, is that the general public is not able to understand the connection between basic science, innovation and productivity: “We aren’t clear with the public in Canada what we are doing. They can’t see it,” he said. “Part of success means being able to communicate with people so they understand what you’re doing and why it matters.” This is essential to enabling our industry to see the connections between innovation and productivity  and for our research community to see the crucial links between getting ideas out of the labs and into the market, while helping industry innovate and compete.

Helping industry innovate is what colleges and polytechnics do well. Linking the Canadian research enterprise to industry needs does not sully research nor lower quality. Quite the opposite. Rather, articulating basic research, universities, government labs and colleges with industry will help Canada address our long standing innovation gap and poor productivity.

As I said earlier: Doing so will achieve a threefold ROI:
  1. A Return on Interest from basic research that provokes thought and ideas, leading to disruptive innovations through long term research investment;
  2. A Return on Innovation from applied research that increases industry R&D spending and our collective capacity to innovate, leading to improved productivity; and
  3. A Return on Investment from experimental development through the creation of new products and processes and through the training of students, who enter the workforce ready to innovate.

02 August 2011

Innovation visas: passport to a productive future

The Globe's Time to Lead article today offers an opinion piece on the notion of an innovation visa for immigrant entrepreneurs. This follows on their story yesterday about "Attracting the Entrepreneurial Immigrant." Both are good reads on a very simple policy change that will capitalize on the entrepreneurial nature of new immigrants and make it easier for people to come to Canada to create companies and jobs. The Globe's editorial is succinct: lets make it easier for those who will generate new ideas to set up shop in Canada. These follow another story ran in early July featuring two entrepreneurs caught in the immigration system. The innovation visa is being tried by the US; here's a good time to follow the lead.