Georgian College and its counterparts across the province are calling for the Ontario government to make upfront investments of $30 million into market-driven research to promote industry clusters throughout the province.
“Colleges play a central role in real-world research that helps businesses become more innovative,” said MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College. “A commitment to enhance innovation in Ontario should be a priority in this year’s provincial budget.”
In order to support competitiveness and job creation in key industry clusters, Ontario should establish a new $30-million, multi-year competitive fund for college-based industry cluster experts.
This will allow colleges to work with key industry clusters on a sustained basis to solve industry-defined applied research challenges.
It is well recognized that Ontario has a poor innovation track record compared to international leaders.
Indeed, only three per cent of Ontario businesses perform any research, and the record suggests their performance on other innovation indicators is also lacking.
The federal government has increased funding for college applied research. However, there is a need for increased provincial support for applied research.
Providing advance investments will ensure that research gets started immediately to strengthen innovation, particularly in small- and medium-sized businesses.
Colleges are playing an increasingly critical role in encouraging more small businesses to innovate.
Each year, Ontario colleges work with more than 750 companies to pursue market-driven applied research activities with about 80 organizations on projects which address provincial socioeconomic priorities.
At least half of these businesses plan to pursue further applied research with colleges, and significant numbers report higher sales and new job creation, due to new and improved products and production as a result of their college collaboration.
Participation in applied research also enriches students’ experiential learning while supporting commercialization work at small and emerging businesses.
By requiring industry partners to match funds, colleges will be able to bring entrepreneurs together to collaborate on new innovations.
Investments in college-specific applied research projects will also strengthen the province’s export opportunities.
“Ontario must focus on innovations that support business growth and create new jobs,” said West-Moynes. “Investments in applied research will help entrepreneurs strengthen Ontario’s economy.”
Examples of research projects at Georgian College
Avrocon Industries Inc.
Through its Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI), Georgian College performed concrete strength testing using variable mix ratios to determine best strength, as well as early and full cure for Avrocon’s Finalcrete repair and restoration product.
RM Products Ltd.
RM Products Ltd. partnered with CARI to test and optimize a new panel design for its modular fiberglass building system. A Georgian student researcher conducted material testing on the new panel design, and wind and snow load testing on a full-sized building model.
Bendaer Sports Inc.
Georgian’s student and faculty researchers worked with Bendaer Sports Inc. to design key components of a tennis racket with improved usability features. Following the initial design, Bendaer worked with CARI to optimize these components.
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre provided mentorship support to Bendaer, including guidance on the company’s marketing strategy, funding and networking.