TORONTO, May 24, 2012 /CNW/ - From breakthrough advancements in green energy to collaborative open-source research, the future is unfolding at an accelerated pace - thanks, in part, to the expanding role of Ontario's colleges in applied research.
The Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation, was on hand to open the seventh annual Applied Research and Innovation Symposium on Thursday, May 24 at the Toronto Delta East Hotel in Scarborough.
The symposium, hosted by Centennial College's Applied Research and Innovation Centre, examined ways Ontario's entrepreneurial sector can bring new ideas and products to market quicker with the assistance of public colleges. This year's symposium theme is Demystifying Research: Creating Pathways to Success.
The conference brings together many Ontario-funded ventures working with the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII), as well as other partners. In his remarks, Minister Duguid spoke about the need for college-industry innovation projects, highlighting the roles government, colleges and industry are playing to realize productivity gains and new employment opportunities.
"The relationship with Centennial College via the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation has enabled DMTI Spatial to release a world-class national address-level fabric for Canada, built through advanced methodology and maintenance workflows," explains Robert Szyngiel, principal, DMTI Spatial, which provides digital mapping data and geocoding. "Working with Centennial brought DMTI Spatial an increased capacity and skill set yielding improved production and time to market."
There is growing recognition by both federal and provincial governments in recent years that applied research led by the nation's colleges can address the innovation gaps Canada has historically faced. One start-up firm helped along the innovation path is Clear Blue Technologies Inc., which partnered with Centennial College to have its off-grid streetlighting system tested in a real-world environment.
"Without Centennial College's physical and intellectual resources, the high capital costs for early-stage prototyping and testing would have been prohibitive," says John Tuerk, co-founder and president, Clear Blue Technologies Inc. "Through market analysis, engineering modeling, product validation and hiring referrals, Centennial has helped accelerate our product to market by bridging the gap from innovation to shipping real product solutions."
In addition to Minister Duguid, the morning session included a keynote address from Peter MacLeod, co-founder and principal of MASS LBP. Since 2007, MASS has led some of Canada's most original and ambitious social innovation efforts to engage citizens in tackling tough policy options by pioneering the use of Citizen Reference Panels. At the same time, other Toronto-area employers have been singing the praises of college-led applied research.
"It's been a pleasure working with Centennial faculty and students on key Spongelab educational products. Our studio has benefited from more than a dozen student placements and from their support in developing flagship educational games like History of Biology and Knowledge Mine," says Dr. Jeremy Friedberg, principal, Spongelab Interactive. "We're very happy to see Centennial continue to innovate in applied research and look forward to continuing our collaborations on future Spongelab educational games."
The symposium hosted rapid-fire round table discussions on college-industry innovation success stories, as well as workshops on conducting applied research and a networking session for participants.
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