16 December 2008

Infrastructure or, The City We Want

In catching up on the past couple of weeks, I've been reviewing my notes from the Toronto Forum for Global Cities, held 8-9 December. A key focus of this event was public infrastructure spending, certainly a hot topic in these dire economic times, but also relevant to GBC's new campus plans. Against the backdrop of economic gloom, infrastructure spending creates jobs and the necessary physical space for future productivity. Commensurate with the need to update and prepare our physical resources for the future is the need to prepare what I earlier called the infrastructure of the mind: readying the future workforce for an active role as "demanders of innovation" within the Innovation Agenda.

Toronto Mayor David Miller spoke about the importance of the public library as a place for incidental education, and an important locus for immigrant populations to learn and access information resources. I was reminded of Manual Castells's work on the "space of flows" and the role of information and communications technology (ICT) in essentially shrinking and linking the globally networked world. The public library system, as a basic public infrastructure, enables the formation of social capital and the integration of new immigrant populations into the local body politic. This social capital is translated into economic productivity as these new populations integrate within the local environment while simultaneously changing the local environment to reflect new perspectives. This is an important driver of innovation - incremental social change which has economic implications. This environment of social capital formation emerges from the physical infrastructure of the public library - the basis for 21st century social and economic productivity. I'm filling in much of the subtext to Miller's speech, though he did end by saying "Cities are our future - the creative economy, research, immigrants - all come together in the city." The creative economy, an allusion to Richard Florida's work, is the purview of GBC's role in preparing graduates for future workplace demands. As I have said earlier, Innovation literacy forms the cornerstone of this demand.

Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba, also spoke at the Forum of the need to invest in education and training infrastructure, particularly in colleges where there is more capability to fill the demand for highly qualified and skilled people. Sandra Pupatello, Ontario Minister of International Trade and Investment, echoed this, and reiterated the Innovation Agenda that the Ontario government is "moving at the speed of business." This means mobilizing all government levels and departments to be responsive to industry.

I liken this to the concept of a virtual research cluster and the "collaborate to compete model." Regionally focused innovation strategies work because they pool resources from disparate sources so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Balkanization is not the answer, especially in a recession. This is an opportunity for all of us engaged in the R&D value or innovation chain to foster improved social and economic productivity by helping industries avoid market failure while we reposition our infrastructure to advance things like the green economy and sustainability.

01 December 2008

Polytechnics Canada Research Showcase a Success

The Third Annual Polytechnics Canada Science and Technology Showcase was held last Friday at Sheridan. The theme of this year's conference was "Creating and Maintaining Sustainable Environments". Presentations from all seven Polytechnics outlined important work in the green economy, and student poster presentations showcased innovations in curricula. GBC students in the School of Design won an award for their poster on Road Ecology. The Proceedings are available online.

Common themes from all speakers included capacity development for sustainable development, and innovation literacy - fostering an innovation mindset in our graduates to participate proactively in the emergence of the green economy. For example, where SAIT is working on innovative building envelopes as part of sustainable construction practices, their students gain valuable experience in working not just on emergent technologies and building practices, but in (re)thinking how we build in the first place.

Other common themes included customization - of power grids, landfills, homes and human interfaces, and how incremental innovation leads to the adaptation and adoption of new technologies and practices commensurate with the development of new ideas.

Bill Mantel, Director, Commercialization Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation gave a closing address on open innovation, and how Ontario is fostering an "innovation ecosystem." The ecology of innovation is an important concept that supports the notion of complementarity, and the role of college and polytechnic applied research has in the overall R&D continuum. The ecosystem metaphor is very apt, and we would do well to remember that a healthy ecosystem is determined by the overall health of its constituent parts. Mantel spoke about how we are moving in Ontario to a more market-focused innovation system where our students enter the workforce as "demanders of innovation." Creating these "demanders" is the purview of GBC's Research Commercialization and Innovation program. Innovation literacy is the cornerstone of this demand.

In times such as these with the economic downturn, many commentators are calling for spending on infrastructure as a way to stimulate economic growth while investing in the future. Similarly, we must invest in the "infrastructure of the mind," and create graduates from college and Polytechnic programs that promote a sustainable environment for applied research that supports environmental sustainability.

26 November 2008

Report from the ACCT Annual Conference

The Alliance for Commercialization of Canadian Technologies held their annual conference in Ottawa on 24 and 25 November. The agenda offered many interesting sessions on three tracks: educational, operational and strategic. It was interesting to note in several sessions where metrics were discussed that there is a general feeling that, while metrics are useful, success stories are even more so, as these give life to the data. Both Polytechnics Canada and CONII have made success stories a core facet of how we transmit metrics and the impact(s) of applied research. (Success stories from the GBC Research Labs can be found on our Research Archive).

A session by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada featured data from their publication "Momentum: The 2008 report on university research and knowledge mobilization." This report calls for better collaboration models across the R&D spectrum (a favourite topic of mine) and better mobilization of highly qualified (and skilled) personnel, in particular "the development of skills conducive to entrepreneur sip" and fostering "responsiveness and adaptability of the workforce." This is commensurate with GBC's Research Commercialization and Innovation program and our focus on innovation literacy.

Day 2 of the conference featured an entire track devoted to College and Polytechnic research, innovation and commercialization. In these sessions there were many good presentations on how to engage students in industry research projects, and the general need for and move toward complementarity.

13 November 2008

When in doubt, innovate

With recent news that the global economic meltdown proceeds apace, and the Conference Board reporting that Canada yet again scores a "D" on innovation, this is a good time to reinforce the idea that innovation should be a priority, particularly during trying economic times. As one writer put it in reference to the auto industry seeking a billion dollar bailout, now is the time to enable these industries to find their way toward a more sustainable future. In a word: innovate.

Where Canada lacks in innovation, we have a significant opportunity to reinvigorate our industries through the "creative economies," in Richard Florida's terms. This point was reinforced by the recent Conference Board of Canada sponsored International Forum on the Creative Economy: "Arts and culture industries play a vital role in attracting people, business, and investment, and in distinguishing Canada as a dynamic and exciting place to live and work."

While not a panacea, creative thinking may help us to find ways to lift us out of our innovation doldrums while increasing social and economic productivity.

10 November 2008

College applied research in the news

Today's Report on Business contains the Report on Colleges: Innovation section with a story "Moving to the front lines of applied research." It's a good overview of how college applied research fits within the continuum of research and development within Canada. There is also a call out on the College and Community Innovation program launched in Budget 2007 as part of the Federal Science and Technology Strategy:

Funding a key player
The vital role that Canadian colleges play in the applied research world was emphasized last February when it was announced that up to 25 college-based R&D projects would be supported with a $48-million, three-year College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, managed by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council.

Although it welcomed the move, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) expressed concern that it had taken seven years from the time it began pushing for federal support of R&D activities before the CCI, first developed as a $1.8-million pilot project, became a permanent program.

"This is a real breakthrough. It's the first time the government has recognized the college contribution to research and working with the private sector ... Now we need to demonstrate the value added for Canada: local economic development and productivity enhancement," said James Knight, president of the ACCC, which represents more than 150 colleges and polytechnics.

The group intends to document the outcomes of the research receiving CCI funding to lobby for more government support.

07 November 2008

Innovation Summit a Success

The recent CANARIE/ORION summit - Powering Innovation - brought together "Canadian and global leaders and innovators in science, research, education and information technology to discuss and showcase new and innovative technologies that are transforming the way we conduct research, collaborate, teach and learn." UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau opened the conference with examples of public private partnerships (P3) models for funding research and development activities. Another keynote by John Kao offered good insights into the value of translation - that is, the need for translators or interlocutors in the research enterprise. These are people who can speak the language of science, but can also relate well to industry. The skills to do this are what we are teaching in our graduate program in Research Commercialization and Innovation (RCI). We foster what we call Innovation literacy: the ability to think creatively, evaluate, and apply problem-solving skills to diverse and intangible issues within industrial problems and multidisciplinary contexts. We believe that fostering innovation literacy in our highly qualified and skilled graduates is a key differentiator of the Polytechnic advantage, particularly as regards applied research conducted in close concert with industry and community needs.

Kao also spoke about the need for countries - equally applicable to institutions - to find a niche in which to excel, rather than trying to be all things to all people. Douglas Van Houweling, Founding President & CEO of Internet2, talked about supporting the "next generation of collaborative discovery" alluding to the network ecology that goes beyond science and technology to include the entire spectrum of the human investigative endeavour. Including the arts and humanities in this way acknowledges the key role all disciplines have in shaping the foundation for tomorrow's civic cyber-infrastructure, which will be founded on the tools being used for advancing science (i.e. Internet2).

From industry we heard from Adam Froman, President & CEO of Delvinia Interactive, who challenged the audience to think beyond academic boundaries and to support applied research that moves in concert with, and at the pace of business. While acknowledging the importance of fundamental and basic research, fostering applied research in concert with industry - the purview of Colleges - will enhance industrial productivity. Froman reminded us that we need to reward failure as much as success when it comes to innovation, as these are necessary stepping stones on the path to successful innovation.

03 November 2008

Chefs' House in the news

GBC's new teaching restaurant - the Chefs' House - is featured in this article from 1 November. The Chefs' House opening coincides with the $20m renovation of the Culinary and Hospitality building.

31 October 2008

New Ministry of Research and Innovation Website Launched

Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation has just launched a new and improved website. Here is the press release:

The Ministry of Research of Innovation is proud to announce the launch of its new ministry website.

Whether you're a business, researcher or have an interest in Ontario's Innovation Agenda and successes, you'll spend less time searching for the information you need.

Quick navigation links now include Programs and Funding tailored to Researchers and Companies, and "Popular Searches" for programs that have received the most views over the past 30 days.

We added Podcasts from Minister John Wilkinson and prominent innovators and researchers, innovation-related RSS or syndicated news feeds and Success Stories showcasing some of the best innovators and researchers in the province.

And, a new "For the Media" section that includes print-quality images and broadcast-ready B-roll to help journalists tell the story about Ontario's innovation successes.

Check out the new website: https://owa.georgebrown.ca/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.ontario.ca/innovation

23 October 2008

The Innovation Economy

A Globe and Mail report from the annual meeting of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada quotes an address by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as saying that research is crucial to Canada weathering the weakening economy. While the AUCC is concerned only with university research, Flaherty broadens this to include colleges: "This is a critical time in Canada in terms of making sure that in our public-policy decisions that we support universities and colleges. . . . Colleges and universities are very important to the future of our country." As the federal Science and Technology Strategy makes clear, leveraging all aspects of the R&D continuum is crucial for Canada's competitiveness.

20 October 2008

First Issue of GBC Research Newsletter

Hot off the virtual press is the first research@georgebrown.ca newsletter. A permanent URI for it is available on our research archive: http://hdl.handle.net/10299/148.

This first issue features stories on Ontario Centres of Excellence-funded faculty projects in composition and computation, a story on student research, and a feature article on Professor Taras Gula, whose $7500 seed funding project has generated $75000 in external money through Inukshuk.

From the front page: The applied nature of the GBC Research Labs fills an important gap in the innovation-to-market cycle in the GTA region: we offer a platform for assessing the value of (technology and service) designs emerging from research and for suggesting appropriate modifications that increase potential for market success. GBC facilitates maximizing the return on investment in research, as well as the return on innovation in development activities.

15 October 2008

First Annual GBC Research Ethics Board Meet and Greet Breakfast

Please join GBC’s Research Ethics Board for the first annual meet and greet breakfast on October 24th from 9 am to 11 am. At this informal event you will learn about research ethics, the board’s activities and functions over the past year. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss research ethics with our board experts.

Date: October 24th
Time: 9 am to 11 am
Location: School of Design
230 Richmond St
Photography Studio (Room 108)

Please RSVP to blewis@georgebrown.ca

08 October 2008

Sweet taste of success: GBC Research in the news

This Toronto Star article features Pure Fun Confections, an industry partner working with the GBC Research Labs. Food scientist Winnie Chiu in GBC's Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts has been working with Research Chef James Smith and a host of students on candy prototypes for the past year. Chiu and Smith have received funding for the project from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the GBC Seed Funding program. Read more about the project in this article from our newsletter: Student Spotlight: The Shape of Eye Candy to Come.

07 October 2008

GBCresearch.tv now online

The GBC Research Labs now has its own media channel at GBCresearch.tv. Our Research and Innovation Rounds will be broadcast tomorrow starting at 11AM.

GBCresearch.tv uses the ePresence webcasting system. Check out an example.

30 September 2008

Research and Innovation Rounds

Office of Research and Innovation’s Research Rounds - Oct. 8

What do 3D learning objects, intercultural competency, interactive voice recognition and eye-capturing candy shape have to do with college research?

Come find out on October 8th at the Office of Research and Innovation’s Research Rounds. Following the presentations we will be announce the winners of our second round of GBC Seed Funding.

Date: October 8, 2008
Time: 11 am to 1:00 pm
Location: Photography Studio (room 108), School of Design, 230 Richmond St. East, James Campus (map)
Lunch: to follow the presentations

Space is limited, so please RSVP by October 3, 2008 to
http://www.georgebrown.ca/CalendarEvents/eventDetails.aspx?id=3281

23 September 2008

ORION and CANARIE sponsoring “Powering Innovation – a National Summit”

“Powering Innovation – a National Summit”, in Toronto Nov. 3 and 4, 2008.

ORION, Ontario’s advanced research and education network, and CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Network, are co-hosting the conference, which will focus on research and innovation enabled by new and advanced technologies.

This is a rare opportunity to meet and network with researchers, CIOs, top educators, tech industry partners and government representatives from across Canada. Hear best-selling author of Innovation Nation, Dr. John Kao; celebrated physicist and chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley Dr. Robert J. Birgeneau; advanced visualization guru Dr. Chaomei Chen, of Philadelphia’s Drexel University; and many more. Don’t miss “A Boom with View” with the Ontario College of Art & Design’s Sara Diamond; or Dr. Gail Anderson and her talk on forensic science research, or CBC Radio’s Nora Young.

Join us for engaging sessions on cyberinfrastructure; the greening of IT; the march towards applications in the “cloud”; innovative visualization technologies; teaching and learning in a web 2.0 universe; commercializing innovation; and more. Interact with exhibitors and showcases from the latest in holographic 3D imaging, to IP-based television platforms, to the latest in super advanced networking.

Register by Sept. 30 and save over $50.00. Special discounts are also offered to ORION and CANARIE-member institutions.

Learn more and consult the latest updates to the Summit program at www.orioncanariesummit.ca.

10 September 2008

Open Source IP

An article today about the Intellectual Property (IP) system calls for the open source model of technology development to be used by the drug development community. McGill University's Richard Gold of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy at McGill University. Open sourcing IP through collaborative engagement fits with technology development business models using the principles of open access. Wider diffusion could feasibly result in drug patents. The push behind this kind of open source learning or "crowdsourcing" reflects current trends in collaborating to compete as one avenue for fostering innovation.

27 August 2008

Richard Florida speaks at GBC's annual Presidential Breakfast

President Anne Sado's Annual Breakfast to kick off the new academic year this year featured noted academic Richard Florida from UofT's Rotman School of Management. Florida's speech about the fabric of Toronto as composed of all educational institutions resonated with President Sado's message about the future GBC is charting with our new campus and educational pathways with Trent University. "Creativity is the font of our economic growth . . . and the basic resource or raw material for growth" Florida told the crowd. This message is central to Florida's thesis of the new creative economy as being the basis for the post-industrial (and perhaps even post-information) age.

The need to move "from a creative economy to a creative society" that includes leveraging the assets and strengths of new immigrants is well aligned with GBC's applied research mandate, and in particular our new program for internationally trained individuals in Research Commercialization and Innovation. The location of our new campus on the Toronto waterfront reinforces Toronto as a place of/for innovation; leveraging all aspects of the GTA as a virtual research cluster made up of complementary ad hoc teams is perhaps one way to conceptualize how we can collectively leverage both geographic location (proximity) with technology (the Internet) to create a seamless virtual research cluster from the disparate strands that comprise industrial and academic research institutions.

Florida spoke to the need to move from "Research, Teaching and Service" to "Discovery, Learning and Engagement." This is about "unlocking creativity" and how GBC is more nimble and connected to the local/regional economy (a particular strength of our educational and applied research capabilities). This last point resonates with an article from Saturday's Globe and Mail on Michael Heller's notion of the "gridlock economy." Heller's point is that we need open innovation - less control on patents and copyrights for example - in order to ensure that there is a free flowing of ideas and tweaking of existing ideas to make new and improved products and services. This open source learning or open access approach leads to improved productivity and more diffuse - perhaps regional - innovation (the "rising tide" approach to development). Regional development in this context acknowledges the explicit histories that are part of all innovations.

07 August 2008

Federal funding for GBC Research program in Research Commercialization and Innovation

Federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley today announced funding for GBC's Research Commercialization and Innovation (RCI) program. The federal funding will match money received from the Ontario government.

This new Ontario post-graduate certificate program will offer a tailored program for internationally trained individuals with advanced research, technology or engineering degrees the entrepreneurial/small business, project management, language, proposal development and fund management skills necessary to work in the applied research or commercialization field in Canada. The program will also be available for Canadian students wishing to apply their learning into practical R&D projects as they learn about the innovation to market cycle. We're fostering innovation literacy for Canada's productivity.

31 July 2008

George Brown College to build new waterfront campus, expand health education and research

It's now official - GBC's new waterfront campus has received funding to be built on Toronto's East Bayfront. As reported earlier by the Toronto Star, the new campus will enable us to support continued growth as the GTA exceeds post-secondary education capacity. As the press release states:

Once built, the new campus will be a unifying new home for George Brown’s Centre for Health Sciences, bringing together its many programs currently spread across existing campuses. As a leader in Interprofessional Education, this new expansion is clearly aligned with HealthForce Ontario’s Blueprint for Action on Interprofessional Care. It will also enable the college to train more Health Science workers in response to critical skills shortages. Already among the province’s largest nursing schools, this expansion will allow George Brown to accommodate an additional 1,300 new nursing students by 2015, helping meet the government’s commitment to hire 9,000 nurses and create nurse led clinics.
GBC Research is applying to the Canada Foundation for Innovation for funds to expand the health sciences research space in the new campus. The George Brown College Health Sciences Inter-Professional Online Research and Technology Assessment Laboratory (I-PORTAL) will add a significant and complementary applied research capacity to the GTA health sciences research institutions with whom we work and train health care workers.

In other health sciences news, GBC and Trent University continue to explore a collaboration agreement based in Nursing.

30 June 2008

Canada's Report Card

Perhaps the timing is intended, but the Conference Board of Canada today released "How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada" just as school is out for the summer. As an article in today's Report on Business puts it: "Canada 'losing' on innovation." Clearly there is much to be done for increasing Canada's productivity. As a viable component in the research and development continuum, the George Brown College Research Labs, as are all colleges engaged in research, are well positioned to work with our colleagues on this national problem. As I am heading out on vacation for the next several weeks, I'll look forward to picking up this topic again when I return at the end of July.

27 June 2008

NB moves to articulated post-secondary education

An article in today's Globe outlines New Brunswick's plans for modernizing their education system. While not explicitly engaging the polytechnic model that created consternation some time ago, today's article does make the point that it is the de facto polytechnic model that is being created. Whatever the nomenclature, it's very timely change that is a necessary update to the educational system. Articulated education is clearly an advantage for Canada that gives students more options, and fosters a more responsive educational system that can proactively provide the highly qualified and skilled people needed for today's (and tomorrow's) economy, all in the service of increased productivity.

19 June 2008

GBC's Gerry De Iuliis's research in the news (reprise)

GBC Health Sciences professor Gerry De Iuliis's research is featured in the Globe and Mail today, as the CBC's the Nature of Things is rebroadcasting the documentary on his research into Pleistocene sloths. The Mystery of the Giant Sloth Cave airs tonight on CBC Newsworld at 10 p.m.

Gerry's research has received funding for the past two years from the GBC Research Labs' seed funding program. His research is featured on our "Soup to Nuts" poster.

17 June 2008

Productivity and the R&D continuum

Judith Maxwell's article in yesterday's Report on Business outlines some key issues around the R&D continuum and Canada's productivity. Most explicitly, Maxwell addresses the complementarity of industry and academic research labs, focusing on the MaRS Discovery District as one example of the kind of collaboratory that fosters synergistic and serendipitous connections and opportunities. Maxwell fails to recognize the role of College research in this equation, what I have elsewhere described as the need to recognize "all facets of the R&D pipeline that includes college applied research [as] part of a fundamental strategy to organize the network effects of utilizing the diverse and complementary capabilities of the innovation spectrum, all oriented toward increased productivity for Ontario and Canada" (*).


Informal networks and communities of interest and practice can enable fruitful collaborations to emerge across the R&D landscape. Making these connections should be the purview of governmental and quasi-governmental organizations (such as TRRA) that play "matchmaker" for industry and research organizations. "Ideas are now the essential raw material for growth and productivity. Informal networks are the 21st century blast furnace, where raw ideas are formed and developed into products and processes that will drive the high growth businesses of our future," says Maxwell. Getting ideas out into the commons where they can be debated and developed, and enabling industry to recognize and utilize expertise from across the Ontario/Canadian network of research labs, remain key challenges for all of us engaged in the research and development enterprise.

02 June 2008

Three articles

Three articles in today's Globe and Mail offer some well rounded insights into science, technology, and the role and function of education in supporting the S&T Strategy.

The first is about women leaving science occupations. Fighting the female brain drain looks at the increasing numbers of women entering - and then leaving - science professions. The article makes a key point that while it is important to encourage new immigrants into the science and technology areas, it is equally, if not more, important to encourage women to enter these profession. It is also important to ensure that women can find a supportive work environment so that they continue to work in these important areas.

The second article is about the five new universities in BC. BC, as does Alberta, has a more advanced and articulated education system than Ontario, insofar as students are able to achieve credentials through a college+university credit transfer system (a subject of earlier posts * *). While the BC case has brought to the fore issues of qualifications, market conditions, and student choice (not to mention what might actually be best for the country), it is clear that much debate will ensue as we collectively work out ways to ensure we meet the educational challenges facing us now, and in the near future. Here I am thinking of the need for increasing qualifications, credentials laddering, and life long learning, all principal components of a well educated and highly functioning productive society.

The third article is about the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, currently underway at UBC. Academics in these areas are typically funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and are now mobilizing for increased awareness of the relevance of some of these disciplines to the science and technology agenda. This makes sense. We need to promote and foster deep understanding of how science, technology and engineering influence our social and economic productivity.

Canada's productivity depends on bringing together multiple and disparate voices, and the ability to translate research into meaningful social and economic outputs will ensure that we support relevant research that Canadians can feel good about supporting with taxpayer dollars.

29 May 2008

23 May 2008

Polytechnics Canada conference: Real solutions for productivity pressures

Polytechnics Canada convened its annual conference in Calgary over the past two days, meeting at the SAIT Polytechnic campus to discuss "Canada's Shortage of Skilled Workers: How Polytechnics Provide a Solution." The conference was an opportunity for the Polytechnics members to meet to discuss our objectives for the coming year, and to hear from several speakers on the role of Polytechnics in Canada's productivity. Today's first speaker was the Honourable Mote Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Minister Solberg outlined the productivity gaps in Canada and how we need to seriously increase our education and training efforts to ensure that all Canadians can participate meaningfully in the economy. Calling for "new approaches and partnerships to meet the labour market challenges of today and tomorrow," Minister Solberg outlined his government's plans for addressing skills shortages through targeted programs designed to counteract our "mediocre productivity performance."

All speakers made clear the connection between the Polytechnic advantage of offering relevant skills training and applied research, filling important gaps in the R&D spectrum in Canada. The educational ecosystem in Canada benefits from the kind of "biodiversity" the Polytechnics bring to the mix.

The Research Committee set objectives for the coming year that will help us build on the concept of Innovation literacy: the ability to think creatively, evaluate, and apply problem-solving skills to diverse and intangible issues within industrial problems and multidisciplinary contexts. We believe that fostering innovation literacy in our highly qualified and skilled graduates is a key differentiator of the Polytechnic advantage, particularly as regards applied research conducted in close concert with industry and community needs.

Innovation literacy is the cornerstone of our new Research Commercialization and Innovation program which we are launching in January 2009.

14 May 2008

Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery 08

The Ontario Centres of Excellence(OCE) Discovery 08 conference was held over the past two days, bringing together representatives from the entire R&D spectrum. The event is a great opportunity to meet other research institutions, investors, business owners and government representatives who are part of the innovation chain in Ontario. GBC Research had a booth at Discovery, which was a great success in making new contacts and showcasing the work we do across our network of labs. We also participated in the CONII booth, which also garnered a lot of interest in the applied research capabilities of Ontario's colleges. Colleges offer "last mile" R&D services to industry and academic partners - a topic I will be speaking at later this week at the UofT. In his introductory remarks yesterday, OCE CEO Mark Romoff asked "Where's Next?", challenging the crowd to look for ideas to take to the next level. This is our collective responsibility, a message echoed by the lunch time address by MRI's Minister John Wilkinson. The collective effort to exercise all aspects of the R&D spectrum will aid Ontario's - and Canada's - productivity.

12 May 2008

George Brown College Launches Post-Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialization and Innovation

The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration today announced funding for GBC's new program in Research Commercialization and Innovation. The new Ontario post-graduate certificate program will offer a tailored program for internationally trained individuals with advanced research, technology or engineering degrees the entrepreneurial/small business, project management, language, proposal development and fund management skills necessary to work in the applied research or commercialization field in Canada. The program will also be available for Canadian students wishing to apply their learning into practical R&D projects as they learn about the innovation to market cycle. We're fostering innovation literacy for Canada's productivity.

06 May 2008

NSERC posts International Review report

The following was released yesterday by NSERC:

NSERC today posted the final report of the first of two major reviews of the Discovery Grants Program along with a statement (video [http://www.nserc.ca/about/plans_priorities_video_message_e.asp] and text [http://www.nserc.ca/about/plans_priorities_message_e.html]) from President Suzanne Fortier.The much anticipated report of the International Review Committee provides exhaustive evidence for the program’s success in supporting high quality, internationally competitive research and for its foundational role in supporting Canadian research and training in science and engineering. The committee, which was chaired by Dr. Peter Nicholson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Canadian Academies, also makes recommendations to enhance the program.Visit the NSERC consultation pages [http://www.nserc.ca/about/consultations_e.asp] for the complete report [http://www.nserc.ca/about/PDF/international_review_e.pdf] and its supporting appendices, as well as an update [http://www.nserc.ca/about/plans_priorities_next_e.html] on the second review, which is examining the Discovery Grants peer review system.

01 May 2008

Going where the puck will be

The Economic Club of Toronto yesterday hosted John Wilkinson, Minister of Research and Innovation for Ontario, in a lunch time address. Minister Wilkinson's speech outlined how the Ontario government is investing in R&D in the province, and made reference to the recently announced Ontario Innovation Tax Credit program and the innovation priorities of the McGuinty government. The government seeks to become a "catalyst for change" in fostering innovation and economic productivity, where "basic and applied science are not interfered with by political science." Wilkinson outlined the government's plans to do a better job at fostering research excellence and extracting value - and jobs - from research. His challenge to the audience was to work together to do a better job at telling our research success stories, and to "go where the puck will be, not where it is now" (citing Walter Gretzky's advice).

This fits with the idea that innovation is almost always recognized ex post facto, but that we need to be proactive in our investment of time, energy and resources in assessing where we can, as Wilkinson noted, "be in the top 3 in the world." This is a good strategy, and Wilkinson made reference to research conducted in colleges, universities, research hospitals and institutes as forming part of the total research and development capacity in Ontario. The explicit recognition of all facets of the R&D pipeline that includes college applied research is part of a fundamental strategy to organize the network effects of utilizing the diverse and complementary capabilities of the innovation spectrum, all oriented toward increased productivity for Ontario and Canada.

30 April 2008

News release from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

McGuinty Government Investing In Research And Innovation To Create Jobs

NEWS

A tax exemption that encourages businesses to bring the research of universities and colleges to market and a 45-day service guarantee on the $1.15 billion Next Generation of Jobs Fund are two North American “firsts” and key pillars of Ontario’s innovation agenda, which was unveiled today [29 April 2008] in Ottawa.

Supported by close to $3 billion in spending over eight years, the agenda builds on the strength of Ontario’s creative environment, diverse culture, highly skilled workforce, world-class educational system and internationally recognized research community.

Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson presented the guiding principles for Ontario’s innovation agenda today. It includes:

  • Government acting as a catalyst for innovation and commercialization – and committing the necessary resources to do this effectively
  • Investing significantly in peer-reviewed research excellence that will create jobs, a cleaner environment and better healthcare for Ontario families
  • Focusing government investments on research and industries where Ontario has a global competitive advantage
  • Streamlining and modernizing government programs and processes to move faster – at the speed of business
  • Partnering with business to better communicate Ontario’s research strengths and innovation success stories to the world.

The innovation agenda is a key driver of the government’s five-point plan for Ontario’s economy that is investing in skills and education, accelerating provincial investments in infrastructure, lowering business costs and strengthening key partnerships to maximize Ontario’s potential, as well as supporting innovation.

QUOTES
“Ontario’s innovation agenda is a fundamental part of Ontario’s five-point economic plan, which will help us sustain the high quality of life that we enjoy today -- and create the high-value jobs of the future,” said Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson.

“We’re proud to have a long history of innovation in Ontario – pioneering researchers and business champions have brought the world revolutionary products like the BlackBerry and the Canadarm. Today we're sending the message to researchers and companies around the world that if you've got an innovative project that will build on our research strengths and create jobs, we'll make it happen in Ontario,” said Madeleine Meilleur, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier.

QUICK FACTS

  • 59 per cent of all foreign venture capital into Canada flows to Ontario.
  • If the Great Lakes region was its own country, it would be the second largest economic unit on earth, second only to the U.S. economy and bigger than Japan, China and India.
  • The Canadian digital media industry is concentrated in Ontario, with Toronto representing about 40 per cent of all firms. There are approximately 800 firms employing 18,000 people within the GTA.
  • Pharmaceutical R&D expenditures in Ontario doubled in the last decade to nearly $550 million, with 40 per cent of Canada’s leading pharmaceutical companies located in Ontario.

LEARN MORE
Learn More about Ontario’s Innovation Agenda

Learn More about Ontario’s Next Generation of Jobs Fund

Learn how Ontario’s Budget 2008 is supporting innovation

Contacts:
Perry BlocherMinistry of Research and Innovation416-326-7717
Sandra WattsMinister’s Office416-314-7067
Disponible en fran├žais

29 April 2008

Applied Research and Innovation Rounds

Office of Applied Research and Innovation – May 20 Innovation Rounds
What do organic candies, emotional intelligence, Miocene faunal structure, and statistical literacy have in-common? They were all 2007 Office of Applied Research and Innovation seed funded projects.
Please join the Office of Applied Research and Innovation for our May 20th Innovation Rounds and find out the outcomes of our 2007 Seed Funded Projects.
Date: May 20, 2008
Time: Noon to 2:00 pm
Location: Casa Loma Campus, Room TBA
Lunch will be served

Space is limited, so please RSVP by May 16, 2008 to
http://www.georgebrown.ca/CalendarEvents/eventDetails.aspx?id=3280

24 April 2008

What is Innovation?

What is Innovation?, an event held yesterday by CONII and Polytechnics Canada member Humber College, explored this question and articulated the value proposition of college applied research within the innovation chain, particularly with respect to working with SMEs. Held at the Orangeville campus, the event was sponsored by the town of Orangeville, Innovation Humber, and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. In attendance were faculty and staff from Humber, representatives of the Orangeville Small Business Enterprise Centre, the OCE, other CONII members and business owners.

I spoke with one such business owner who makes board games - one just about to hit the market, who made several good points about the capacity of colleges to fill an important gap in the innovation-to-market spectrum. He was referred to the event by the Orangeville Small Business Enterprise Centre, which works with Innovation Humber to link businesses in need of applied research services with Humber faculty and staff expertise. The business owner said that he could outsource his manufacturing to offshore locations, but he "wants to help Ontario manufacturing industries by keeping the work here." "The profit margins are smaller," he said, "but you have to put people before profits." He went on to say that he wished he had known about Innovation Humber and the college applied research services a year ago. He could have saved money, and moved his prototypes into production much more quickly.

"Innovation happens where change is needed," said Robert Taweel, Innovation Humber's Industry Liaison Officer. Like spring, change is in the air as college research moves into position to help Ontario's small businesses remain competitive in a global marketplace.

17 April 2008

"The Topography of Innovation"

University of Toronto president David Naylor has an interesting article in this month's UofT Magazine, called "The Topography of Innovation." In the article, Naylor addresses Canada's poor performance in the OECD ranking and the need for the federal granting councils to focus on funding basic research without having to worry about downstream economic and industrial benefits. While I disagree that the granting councils should be solely concerned with "upstream . . . knowledge generation" as he puts it, Naylor does rightly say that "we need dedicated commercialization agencies and infrastructure" that can turn work within the R&D landscape to ensure we can exploit Canadian research that has potential economic benefits.

College applied research centres can fill this role. While there is perhaps a false distinction between basic and applied research at times, there are complementary roles that each kind of institution (university+college) can play in the innovation spectrum. Colleges are relatively new to research, and universities have been worried that this is just more competition for scarce research funding. This is wrong thinking. If we can, as a nation, promote the notion of complementarity (the oft-cited collaborate to compete model), then we can see the university and college research labs as articulated within one long value chain aimed at creating new knowledge and applying this into industrial contexts. Such distributed research networks have the potential to lift Canada out of our innovation doldrums.

10 April 2008

The Hill Times Innovation issue and the Health Innovation and Policy Summit

The Hill Times has published their issue on innovation in Canada. Articles include Industry Canada Minister Prentice on his approach to innovation ("Innovation Nation") and Finance Minister Flaherty on creating the "knowledge advantage", as well as others. Notable is a piece by Canada Health Infoway's Richard Alvarez on the interdisciplinary side effects of innovation in health care. It's worth a look for anyone interested in innovation and the Science and Technology Strategy in Canada.

And speaking of innovation in health care, an upcoming conference in Toronto will be of interest to any working in this area. The Health Innovation and Policy Summit is being held 30 April to 1 May in downtown Toronto, and features an excellent line-up of speakers.

08 April 2008

Seed Funding Available for Applied Research Projects

The George Brown College Office of Applied Research and Innovation is please to announce the availability of seed funding for applied research projects. George Brown College is committed to pursuing and conducting applied research projects that support the development of our community, respond to current industry needs and provide learning opportunities for students.

Projects must involve an industry or community partner, as well as students. Preference will be given to projects that are likely to lead to further funding, and/or are multi- or inter-disciplinary.

During this first of two RFP rounds, $50,000 will be available for applied research projects. Applicants can apply for up to $7,500 and will need to show what their total expected costs are, what they are requesting from GBC Applied Research, and what other sources of funding they have, including in-kind from industry partners, if applicable.

The due date for completed application forms is 1 May 2008.

Application forms for GBC faculty and staff are at this URL: http://www.georgebrown.ca/applied-research/request4proposals.aspx

Engineering health systems research

Yesterday's Report on Business had a section on Health Innovations, which included an interesting article on Electronic Health Records (EHR), and a good piece on how "Engineering techniques can be used to eliminate inefficiencies in Canada's health care system." The latter highlights the new University of Toronto Centre for Research in Healthcare Engineering. Michael Carter, CRHE Director, outlines in the article the ad hoc history how the Canadian healthcare system has been configured, and how engineering can be used to solve inefficiencies. As Carter says, "Nobody ever designed the health care system. Nobody ever sat down and said, 'This is how we should deliver care.' It's sort of piecemeal."

This is an important front in health and human services research. It's time to take a systems view of how healthcare can function - the Health Canada Interprofessional Education for Collaborative Patient-Centred Practice envelope is one part of this effort. This requires complex change management, strong leadership (political and institutional), and a commitment to patient care within a collective effort at change in health systems and human services, health promotion, patient empowerment, and health systems utilization. GBC Health Sciences have a strong base of faculty interested in research in the health and human services fields, including working proactively to anticipate change in the healthcare environment of the future, particularly as this involves the increasing use of health information technologies. Some of these issues were raised at the CONII Health Sciences Node Symposium. We have an opportunity to participate in health systems change. Our applied research facilities and capabilities are complementary to work being done at the CRHE.

28 March 2008

CONII Health Sciences Node Symposium a Success

The CONII Health Sciences Node Symposium was held today at Seneca College, attended by some two dozen representatives from the 10 member colleges of CONII. The purpose of the event was to establish the CONII Health Sciences Node community of practice and to begin the work of organizing and orchestrating collaboration among the 10 CONII members. The day was a very successful group think on the nature of innovation in this sector.

Brian Barber, Director of Technology Development and Commercialization at the UHN, gave a keynote address to initiate proceedings. Brian advocated building bridges between the academic and economic communities in order to proactively foster the necessary return on investment in research. He recognized the cultural divide that exists between the research and commercialization communities, and that those of us engaged in the innovation sector are involved in a culture shift writ large.

Colleges fit into the research continuum by offering services and environments suitable for testing prototypes and concepts. We can also offer unique capabilities in helping to change the way health care is practiced. There is a role here for "disruptive innovation" Brian reminded us - to play an active role in bringing about change. It's clear that our current health care system is presently unsustainable as is (it consumed 46% of the last Ontario budget, and it's growing each year). The role of researchers (applied or otherwise) is to take a proactive - rather than a reactive - role in making meaningful change a reality for health and human services. With the changing health care environment (think ubiquitous technology designed to monitor/aid health) we have a significant opportunity to participate in shaping the future of health care. It won't be easy - the group today spent some time reviewing challenges. But the opportunity is there. It's up to us to collaborate - to work together and make this happen.

Collaboration is difficult and messy, particularly so when stakeholders are all pursuing the same funding opportunities. CONII provides precedence here that we can build on. There is a delicate balance needed between protecting our own interests versus building capacity system-wide (a topic I wrote about some time ago). These are early days in the innovation marketplace, and we all have a place and role to play in ensuring Canada can achieve its prosperity goals.

Some time ago I wrote about ROI2: Return on Investment; Return on Innovation. This can be amended as ROI3: we need a return on investment and innovation, but also interest. If the return on innovation is the gravitational pull of ideas, then the return on interest is the ability to spark interest, to provoke thought, and to stimulate ideas. Contingent knowledge assumes we evolve these ideas. Let's make an environment conducive to this evolution.

24 March 2008

Cloud computing augurs storm

An article today on Google's web services approach to computing (often referred to as cloud computing) raises some interesting points on the future of software and web services and the trade offs in privacy control. While many speculate that cloud computing heralds a new era in using the Internet as an access point for information appliances, the article shows that there is a downside to all of this: the loss of privacy and the propensity for information to be subject to the US Patriot Act. In 2001 Phil Agre wrote a piece for the IEEE Spectrum called "Welcome to the Always On World," in which he foretold the coming era of mobile computing ubiquity, the precursor to the web-as-application space on which Google is setting its sights. Technology in this sense is the pharmakon - that which both cures and ails us. While cloud computing offers us excellent avenues for innovation for products and services in the information economy, we would do well to remember the unintended consequences as we construct new interfaces and information infrastructures.

18 March 2008

New GBC campus on the Toronto Waterfront

The Toronto Star published a story last week on plans for a new GBC campus located at the Toronto waterfront. The story reflects plans for locating the health sciences faculty within a newly revitalized waterfront area. A College presence there will play a significant role in the development of the Waterfront:


"To have students on the waterfront would make it absolutely vital; they would animate the area year-round, not just in summer," said Marisa Piattelli, vice-president of government relations, communications and strategic initiatives for Waterfront Toronto, the public agency that manages Toronto's lakeshore.

Such a move will also help the College continue student enrollment growth, since at the moment we are space-constrained.


12 March 2008

Upcoming forum on Community Based Research

For those interested in community based research (CBR) the following may be of interest:

Conversations on Community Based Research: Engaging communities with college faculty and students May 8 & 9, 2008

http://www.douglascollege.ca/community/conversations-on-community-based-research.html

The historically rich relationships between communities and colleges and institutes provide the context for mutually beneficial research through the practice of Community Based Research (CBR). Trends to engage faculty and students with the community through service learning and the desire for many community organizations to identify their own research needs and seek research partnerships with colleges converge to enrich this practice.


The symposium will be held in the new Health Sciences Building on the David Lam campus of Douglas College in Coquitlam BC. The event will be national in scope with presenters and participants from across Canada. It will serve as the context for the release of a recent national survey of CBR at Colleges and Institutes. The survey has been funded through the Health and Learning Knowledge Centre of the Canadian Council on Learning. The symposium will also serve as the official launch of the new Centre for Health and Community Partnerships on the David Lam campus.

04 March 2008

Innovation in the kitchen

Yesterday I had the good fortune to participate in some experimentation at GBC's Culinary Institute. Chef James Smith's continuing education course is for working chefs who are keen to learn more cooking skills. Part of the course is structured so that each week, half the students cook and the other half tastes a three course meal. The tasters mark the presentation and taste of the food. The criticism was constructive, and both teams approached the evening with the zeal of lab scientists.

Notwithstanding the pleasure of tasting fine food, the experience offered me a unique view of these young chefs as they innovate with taste, presentation and skill. What struck me most was the preamble to the night's three dishes, in which the cooking team described how they met earlier in the day to review the ingredients and to structure the menu. While some things did not work out as planned, the team was highly engaged in epicurean experimentation. As I was leaving I spoke briefly to one of the chefs. He told me that, as a country chef (he works outside of the city) he enjoys coming in to Toronto to learn new tricks and ways of putting things together on the plate. Innovation, to him and his team, is about the art and science of innovation in the kitchen, experimenting with flavour profiles as they put together their dishes. The team structure that bifurcates into cooking and tasting/marking is a pedagogically sound way to link learning to innovation and research, offering a good example of how applied learning and research enhances the student experience (not to mention my own).

28 February 2008

Education inventory a good idea

The Council of Ministers of Education met earlier this week to discuss post-secondary education. Among the news items reported was their interest in configuring "a data-collection system to measure the gaps between the skills Canadian workers will need in the future and the postsecondary-education system's capacity to provide them." Here's a good idea for finding a way of ensuring that we have a responsive educational system.

This issue came up at the ACCC Applied Research Symposium, held in Edmonton this past week. The point is that Colleges and Polytechnics offer a nimble environment for applied research to be conducted in close concert with industry needs. In theory these projects are integrated in the curriculum, giving students practical field work in solving problems, integrated within the scope of their learning. Our ability to respond thus is contingent on funding models for applied research, and the recent NSERC CCIP (which was discussed at the Symposium) is indeed intended to enable more industrial R&D to take place. As Canada does a poor job overall with R&D spending, fostering a responsive education system that can also serve the needs of industry problem-solving would be a good way to encourage growth in our productivity. It certainly can't hurt.

25 February 2008

Education and the economy

I happened across an interesting story in the Calgary Herald the other day featuring PEI Senator Elizabeth Hubley who has said that Canada should provide tuition-free post-secondary education. Hubley makes the point that since the economy requires Highly Skilled and Qualified People we should be providing free education since a high school diploma is no longer the terminal standard it once was:

"As a society, we long ago decided to provide education through high school because it was the bare minimum needed to function in a modern economy," Hubley, a former provincial politician, said in a recent speech in the Senate. "But things have changed and a high-school diploma is no longer enough. If the bare minimum now is a post-secondary education, it should also be tuition-free."

This is a potentially good link into the productivity discussion that have been ongoing in Canada of late. Perhaps providing education to the post-secondary level is one facet of ensuring our productivity index can climb in conjunction with the Science and Technology Strategy.


20 February 2008

CFI Call For Proposals announced

The Canada Foundation for Innovation has announced its Leading Edge and New Initiatives Fund – Call for Proposals. The New Initiatives Funds (NIF) competition represents the opportunity for the College and Polytechnic applied research to apply for infrastructure funds.

01 February 2008

NSERC Colleges and Innovation funding announced

The NSERC Colleges and Innovation funding program has been announced. There are three rounds of competition: April 8, 2008; September 3, 2008; and December 19, 2008.Here is the announcement:

The description of the new College and Innovation (CCI) program is now available on the NSERC website. April 8 2008 is the deadline for submission of letters of intent for the first competition round. I invite you to read the program description, the competition timetable as well as background documents on our web site: http://www.nserc.ca/colleges/cci_e.asp.

29 January 2008

NRC's Innovation News

The recent issue of the National Research Council's NRC Newslink arrived recently (refreshingly in paper format, though it is also online) and features a few good stories on the innovation front. NRC President Pierre Coulombe posits "The Power of Partnerships" in his editorial, rightly extolling the NRC's track record in providing innovation R&D services in concert with academia and business. Missing from his discussion of the NRC's position on R&D relative to the Science and Technology Strategy is the value of the applied research sector, now nascent in Canadian college and Polytechnics (with some exceptions), but growing well. College and Polytechnic applied research has historically close ties to industry, so is well positioned to be a strong contributor to the national S&T agenda. And speaking of the S&T Strategy, Industry Canada Minister Jim Prentice is expected to announce new "funding strategies" for industry and innovation, expected in Budget 2008. A recent Globe and Mail report quotes Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as saying that "Mr. Prentice is preparing a research, development and innovation strategy that "'industries could tap into.'" This will likely be along the lines of the Business Led NCE program.



Another story in the NRS Newslink is about the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), which features NRC-licensed technology to be used at the facility. ALMA has a Canadian project website (404 for me right now). Last year I visited the Very Large Array in New Mexico--a fascinating place and a terrific example of scientific research in action. The photo on the right was taken during my visit.

24 January 2008

Applied Research Innovation Rounds

Please join us at the Office of Applied Research and Innovation’s Innovation Rounds

Come and learn what’s new in applied research@GBC
and hear a presentation by John Camarda’s research team
who will discuss their work on

How to prevent exploding bread

Lunch will be served

Date: February 6, 2008
Time: 11:30 am to 1:00 pm
Location: St James Campus, A 560E

Space is limited, so please RSVP by Feb. 1, 2008 to
http://www.georgebrown.ca/CalendarEvents/default.aspx?idc=20

23 January 2008

Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation Health Node Symposium

The Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation Health and Life Sciences Node is sponsoring a one day symposium:

Healthy Choices: Innovation, Commercialization and College Applied Research in Health and Life Sciences
March 28, 2008
Seneca College Residence and Conference Centre

This one day symposium offers an opportunity to showcase your latest applied research projects, network with colleagues and industry/community partners and develop an action plan for advancing college and industry/community applied research and innovation in the health and life sciences sector.

Each CONII college will present results of recent research projects highlighting industry/community partnerships and applications. Additionally, each college will be presenting posters of applied research projects in this sector. In the afternoon, participants will work in facilitated groups to address key questions on the future of college applied research in this sector and to develop an action plan for future applied research in the health sector.

18 January 2008

Toronto unveils Prosperity Agenda

The City of Toronto today unveiled their "Agenda for Prosperity," a plan for the city to lead the region in cultivating creativity for the benefit of our prosperity index. Mayor David Miller created the Mayor’s Economic Competitiveness Advisory Committee to come up with a plan to "position Toronto as a leading global city of the 21st century." George Brown College President Anne Sado is a member of this committee.

The report fits well with building a regional innovation economy, along the lines of federal and provincial research and development sponsorship (S&T Strategy; Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation), and the Toronto Region Research Alliance's recent Toronto Region Innovation Gauge. This report is interesting for its comprehensive look at the GTA and our capacity to engage in innovation. The TRRA looked at innovation inputs, process, and outputs, and tells us that in the GTA the "innovation engine that is not performing up to its considerable potential."

A couple of articles on the Agenda for Prosperity (from the Globe and Eye Weekly) offer some good analysis of the potential - both economic and social - that the GTA innovation index has for the surrounding region, if not Canada. Ontario's movement toward harmonizing the research and innovation conduits within an integrated education system (one in which greater academic mobility is leveraged for the benefit of students, community and industry alike) will strengthen our overall social and economic competitiveness. This is the "collaborate to compete" model: working together to build a better social and economic climate.

17 January 2008

Innovation in the news

The latest ORION newsletter is available, and contains some interesting news from the world of innovation, including the announcement of the annual ORION Awards.

The newsletter tells of the Powering Research and Innovation - A joint ORION-CANARIE Summit, to be held in Toronto on 3-4 November 2008. CANARIE, whose mandate has been extended until 2012, is Canada's premier Internet R&D organization.

There is also an interesting piece on the use of Second Life by Loyalist College.

08 January 2008

Funding available for e-learning content development projects

Inukshuk has recently launched their 2008 call for proposals. The announcement is below:

Launch of Inukshuk Wireless' 2008 Funding Program

Announcing the launch of Inukshuk Wireless' 2008 Calls for Proposals, an exciting opportunity for partnerships between Inukshuk Wireless and the learning communities of Canada!

Inukshuk Wireless invites you to submit an Expression of Interest for funding of:
either

An innovative and creative Content Development Project to develop multimedia and feature-rich learning content, applications or learning environments,

or

A Connectivity Project which results in the provision of wireless broadband internet access to unserved or underserved communities.

To find out more about the availability of funds in each region and to obtain additional information on how to apply for funding, go to www.inukshuk.ca. It's worth a look!

We look forward to receiving your Expression of Interest in the very near future.

02 January 2008

Innovation, education

Happy new year!

An article today about the impact on education of the Alberta oil boom gives a balanced report on Alberta's push for educational investment with its petro-dollars. The cautions raised are fair, but this is a very worthwhile investment in the future when the oil sands dry up, or, perhaps more likely, they give way to greener power.

A related piece from last week by Todd Hirsch raised similar issues with innovation. His piece "Maybe we're just too lazy to invent things" looks at the number of per capita patents in the US and Canada. (Unfortunately, his article is buried in the online archives - you have to subscribe to get access). What both articles have in common is the call for a balanced approach to education - we need both sciences and engineering and social sciences to make innovation work. This will in turn foster innovaiton and ideas that can have social and economic benefit.