01 June 2012

Speed to Market: How Colleges Help SMEs Turn Innovations into Income

Infonaut CEO Niall Wallace and I spoke at the Toronto Board of Trade on 30 May 2012 giving a breakfast talk on From Concept to Commercialization: How SME'S Can Turn Innovations Into Income, part of the RBC Business Advice Series: Innovation for SMEs.

It was a good overview of the value college and polytechnic applied research holds in supporting SMEs to take products to market. Our focus on applied research helps SMEs close the commercialization loop by helping take concepts from idea to invoice by providing access to the four key areas: capital, talent, facilities, markets.

Access to capital – government funding supporting college-industry applied research provides matching capital for industry to engage in innovation partnerships. 

Access to talent – this includes our talented faculty who are industry professionals (we call them dual professionals – industry experts + expert teachers) as well as our students. By engaging our students we help to train the talent needed for the innovation economy. Our industry partners get to test drive potential future employees, while ensuring that all students gain crucial innovation skills as part of their education. This is very important. Not only do students gain the technical skills inherent in their program of study, but they gain these crucial soft skills – innovation, entrepreneurial, product development, communication and team work skills essential to the innovation economy. We’ve had several students get hired in new positions created by industry partners who have worked with us. This includes Timor Sharaftinov who has been hired by Infonaut.

Access to state-of-the-art facilities  –  colleges and polytechnics have equipment and facilities SMEs need but perhaps cannot afford on their own that can be used in the various stages of applied research. Some of the GBC Research Labs facilities we offer include
  • GBC is investing in new campus facilities and infrastructure to create a business accelerator for Green Building applied research, which will help us amplify our work with industry in the construction and smart building sectors 
  • The Food Innovation Research Studio (FIRSt), in our leading Chef School, works with companies on food product development <
  • The new Waterfront Campus, a new centre of excellence for health education and community wellness in the heart of Toronto’s revitalized East Bayfront neighbourhood, will feature 22,000 sq. ft. of health care simulation spaces for applied research
Access to market  –  companies can leverage the extensive industry networks we have, which we use to introduce businesses with potential clients.

Our focus is on speed to market and helping companies to commercialize at the speed of business. At George Brown College, we are open for business innovation.

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