26 February 2016

Ontario Budget funds education, applied research

Yesterday's budget by the Ontario government included good news on the education front for college and university students (Alex Usher has a very good analysis here). It also includes new funding for college applied research, in addition to investments in Ontario's innovation economy more broadly. The government announced new $20M applied research funding to support colleges and industry:
  • Establishing a three-year, $20 million fund that connects colleges and private-sector employers on applied innovation projects that result in breakthrough products and services for sale at home and abroad.
This is important news and a validation of the outcomes that college applied research achieves. In addition to this there is a host of other research funding for the innovation system, from auto and aerospace to clean and green technologies, all designed to aid firms in starting up and scaling up to be globally competitive. This is a very forward thinking budget that will enable colleges, polytechnics and universities to better link with private sector partners in support of innovation across a range of important industrial sectors.

17 February 2016

Some lessons for R&D (and Innovation) Policy

Jeffrey Simpson has a good article in today's Globe that looks at R&D spending and its relationship to Canada's (lacklustre) international R&D performance. He specifically calls out the pharmaceutical sector for a lack of R&D spending. Mentioned but almost lost in the piece is the fact that Canada's public sector R&D spending (HERD) is high by OECD standards. It is private sector R&D where we are doing poorly. This is useful to remember as the government crafts an Innovation Agenda. We need to do more to fix the dual R&D productivity problem: a lack of commercialization of publicly funded R&D and the lack of private sector R&D spending.  

11 February 2016

Mayor John Tory launches #startuphereTO

Toronto Mayor John Tory today launched StartUp HERE Toronto - a new initiative to encourage and enhance innovation and entrepreneurship in the GTA and with the Kitchener-Waterloo corridor. Hosted at the Toronto Shopify offices, this morning's event featured four breakout discussion groups to bring fresh thinking to the City's efforts at (re)imagining the future of the city and its role in supporting a vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurs, including those innovating in the sharing economy and digital space. It was a fantastic event attended by many leading entrepreneurs and established technology companies, and the discussions engaging and thought-provoking.

I was in the future of the city group and there was great discussion on leveraging the city's convening power to create a runway for startups to disrupt and innovate the economy. One idea was to leverage the local BIAs (Business Improvement areas - of which there are purportedly 81 in Toronto) as ways to try out ideas and new technologies prior to scaling more widely. Great thinking, led by a great and dynamic team from the City of Toronto and the Mayor himself.

As I mentioned on Twitter, Mayor Tory coined a nice phrase in describing the current gold rush:

People are the gold of the 21st century - mayor Tory on and the talent pool in TO - enabling the Innovation economy

Kudos to everyone at the City for showing exceptional leadership. Read the press release here.

10 February 2016

GBC Research launches new website

It's official - the new website for GBC Research is live. Check us out at http://gbcresearch.ca/ and learn why George Brown College is the #1 research college in Canada, as rated by Research Infosource.