What makes for a great research-intensive university?
Great Students are the Foundation.

Canada provides a rich spectrum of post-secondary options that position the country well by world standards. But, is this good enough in our globally competitive world?

My own part of this spectrum is Canada's large, research-intensive universities. Of particular interest to me is the sub-set that has the potential to be globally influential. It's a far smaller number – three, perhaps four – than many Canadians might think, and it's a number certainly smaller than Canadians would wish. The US, Canada's partner and competitor, takes eight of the top 10 positions in the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities. Canada has but two spots in the top 50, the University of Toronto and my own university.

What makes for a great researchintensive university? Great students are the foundation; they attract great teachers and researchers. Researchers compete for funding awarded by peer review, now more frequently at the international level. Success attracts the brightest graduate students to do the research endeavour's heavy lifting, spawning further success. This virtuous circle gets fuelled with increased support, coalescing ever-greater amounts of talent and ideas in a process somewhat analogous to the way that stars are formed.

The local economic impact of such research clusters are well documented, but it is misguided to see all this "heat" as mere application of science for the purposes of commercializing research results. Don't get me wrong: that may well, and should, occur. However, the benefits of this critical mass apply as much to the physical sciences as they do to a fi eld like my own, international law.

Such beauty contests as international rankings are by no means definitive. However, if you think of the higherranked institutions as being infl uential far beyond their localities, then you begin to see the attraction for national-scale universities to make their way out in a globally competitive world.

Universities aspiring to global impact are the ones whose discoveries are cited in the research of other scholars; this is an important factor in rankings, and it is, I believe, a compelling measurement. It means that new knowledge discovered in Canada is being transmitted internationally, and it is being enhanced and extended by the world's scholars.

Canadian universities that are globally influential also attract collaboration from other globally infl uential universities. This furthers the flow of significant ideas and people across borders. This collaboration gives researchers in a small country like Canada far greater access to global resources – intellectual, infrastructure and financial – than would otherwise be available.

So, what is my special plea for Canada's research-intensive universities with a claim to global infl uence? It turns out it's highly consistent with the federal Competition Policy Review Panel recommendations on the productivity improvements that Canada needs to succeed at the global level.

As well, what I wish for my part of Canada's university spectrum will equally benefit all. With research funding success properly determined by competitive peer review and just as properly unaffected by regional, political and other inappropriate criteria, the playing field is levelled.

Canada's governments, and hence its people, need to continue and enhance their support for both the direct and indirect costs of research. Without the levels of US support for the indirect costs of research (now 50 cents on the dollar, double Canada's), our research success will continue to cannibalize our teaching mission as the burden of funding labs, equipment and talent cheats our undergraduate students of the teaching resources they need and expect.

Governments can also help by increasing support for graduate students to the levels of our international competitors.

Lastly, governments will do well to acknowledge, celebrate and foster differentiation along the spectrum of postsecondary options. This will help to keep our national eye on the international ball.

Compelling television about university R&D in Atlantic Canada

In October 2004, EKOS Research released findings of a national study entitled: Rethinking Science and Society to a national meeting of university communicators and researchers.

That study revealed much about Canadian's perceptions concerning the role of universities in research and development (R&D). The survey was a classic good news – bad news scenario. The good news was that close to 80 percent of respondents knew that universities have a great deal to do with R&D. And, 86 percent expressed having the greatest trust in university researchers compared to governments and the private sector.

The bad news? The public felt largely uninformed about university R&D, implying that institutions had to do get better at educating the public about their research and its outcomes.
The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) – www.atlanticuniversities.ca - drew inspiration from that research.

"Universities conduct 63 percent of the R&D in Atlantic Canada with a total annual value in excess of $510 million", says Peter Halpin, Executive Director, AAU. "We have great stories to tell about the powerful impact university research has on our communities and the world"

In September, 2007, the AAU began producing a pilot television series entitled The Life Changers for the Atlantic Satellite Network (ASN), a regional affi liate of CTV.

The first season of The Life Changers featured six compelling stories about university R&D in Atlantic Canada. Each episode was broadcast on ASN on Sunday's at 12:30 pm (AST). The six programs in the 2007 series can also be viewed on the AAU's website: (www.atlanticuniversities.ca/thelifechangers)

"ASN provides us with a great platform to better inform the public about what's going on in our university labs and classrooms, noted Halpin, "but we also know that today many people use the internet to get information and news, that's why each episode of The Life Changers series can be viewed on our website. We are working hard at building an audience for The Life Changers within the university community and among the general public".

The AAU will launch the second season of The Life Changers in September, 2008, with five new programs and wide ranging subject matter.

Memorial University of Newfoundland will produce programs about pathbreaking research in gene discovery that is helping Newfoundland families particularly affected by a rare heart disorder as well as taking viewers inside its Centre for Marine Simulation; Sackville, New Brunswick's Mount Allison University will feature innovative work being done in the field of dendrochronology – the dating of trees and heritage buildings and the linkage to climate change; Dalhousie University in Halifax will provide an in-depth look at work being done in the battle against obesity, and Dalhousie's Medical Research Foundation and its partners Capital District Health and the IWK Children's Hospital will provide an insiders view of the recently opened Skills Centre for Health Sciences in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The Life Changers is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC Atlantic) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The support of these two national granting councils enables the AAU to increase public awareness of The Life Changers programs through a regional television advertising campaign created by ASN to promote the series and each program.

Halpin says that, "Universities simply have to do a better job of communicating the important impacts of their R&D activities. The Life Changers is just one communications channel that enables us to tell our stories about research excellence, collaboration and partnership among our universities in Atlantic Canada."

Research and innovation are important in ensuring a country's competitiveness, prosperity and quality of life. Canada's universities conduct more than a third of our country's research, and play a large role in helping Canadians achieve these goals.

Research is a core activity at our universities, and helps train graduates who are capable of applying sophisticated knowledge to real problems. It includes both basic and applied research.
Historically, universities have performed most of the basic research in Canada, laying a foundation of knowledge that other researchers can later build on to develop new applications for public benefit. For example, stem cells were first identifi ed in mice in the early 1960s by two researchers at the University of Toronto. No one knew about their utility. Today, researchers around the world are investigating stem cells and their potential to treat or cure diseases such as Parkinson's and arthritis.

Applied research is increasingly conducted in partnership, bringing universities together with the private sector, not-for-profit sector or various levels of government to address a challenge or improve policy. Canadian university researchers, working with government research facilities are exploring issues as diverse as the possibility of reviving cod stocks and determining the safety and effectiveness of natural health products. Collaborations between business and universities produce new marketable technologies and products every year.

For instance, researchers at the University of Calgary, the Calgary Health Region and the Canadian space arm manufacturer MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates have developed a robotic arm that allows for more precision during brain surgery. The NeuroArm, one of the most advanced robot systems ever developed, allows surgeons at a computer workstation to conduct intricate surgical procedures on patients.

Another research partnership involves the University of Western Ontario, the Insurance Bureau of Canada and several construction industry organizations. The Three Little Pigs Research Project is testing a model house under heavy wind, rain and snow conditions until it collapses. Using data from the collapse, researchers can determine how the structure can be improved, enabling home builders to develop stronger products.

When universities conduct research with business or not-for-profit organizations they facilitate the practical application of the knowledge. In Newfoundland, the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development at Memorial University has been working with local communities to develop solutions focused on local social and economic challenges since 2004. Centre staff and university faculty visit Newfoundland and Labrador communities to seek ideas for new research projects from local people, based on the challenges they face. The Centre links businesses and community groups with Memorial researchers whose work can potentially help solve local problems.

In another region, a three-way partnership has meant better monitoring of the aquatic ecosystem. Under the waters of the St. Lawrence River, a "tireless" listening device monitors commercial and marine activities. Developed by the Université du Québec à Rimouski, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and MultiÉlectronique Inc., a Quebec-based manufacturer, this device is able to stay several hundred metres below the surface for months at a time and helps to analyze the impact that commercial activities have on marine life and, ultimately, to develop policies to protect the regional aquatic ecosystem.

Hundreds of research projects like these contribute directly to Canadian society and the economy, producing new products and technologies while providing opportunities for university students to learn skills they can use when they enter the work force. A highly educated workforce is Canada's single greatest strength.

On October 22, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada will release Momentum: the 2008 report on research and knowledge mobilization. The report will explore the overall picture of research in Canada including Canadian R&D investments, research partnerships, the trends that drive demand in research, and the benefi ts that research brings to the lives of Canadians. To obtain a copy of the report, visit AUCC's website (www.aucc.ca/momentum) after October 22.

It's no secret there is a networking talent shortfall in this country. In fact, a recent IDC white paper suggests that the shortfall in North America is in excess of 60,000 qualifi ed networking professionals.* With rapidly evolving technology and an increasingly networked economy, skilled networking professionals are critical to business success. With companies putting more eggs in the technology basket, networks have become the life blood of companies --- a day without the network can translate into missed business opportunities.

Networks are changing and they are being managed differently. The convergence of voice and data, and the trend toward growing video traffi c is requiring workers to achieve higher levels of certifi cation as well as specialization in the areas of network security, voice and wireless.

Networkers not only have to know the 'wires and switches,' these days the ability to innovate, solve problems and manage projects is crucial. Not to mention working on those business acumen skills and communicating with senior level executives. It's a career of life-long learning.
To address the networking talent shortfall, businesses, educators and communities are collaborating.

One example of this collaboration is an innovative three-way public/private partnership among Cisco, Carleton University and Algonquin College, who are working together to deliver a best-of-breed networking program through a four-year bachelor's degree in information technology (BIT).

Students attend Carleton for theoretical and core science, math, statistics and business courses; and Algonquin for hands-on practical courses, including labs. Networking and programming courses are taught at both institutions. Over the course of four years, students split their days between campuses, with 60 per cent of their time spent at Carleton. The applied learning at Algonquin, which is enhanced to the university level, provides not only networking skills, but also the theory that underlies those skills.

"The BIT networking curriculum is unique," says Dorina Petriu, Director of the School of Information Technology at Carleton. "It's a great example of how schools are connecting and collaborating with the IT industry to deliver a comprehensive program that enables graduates to hit the ground running."

"The complementary learning paths provide students with a better understanding of what they are doing, what they are trying to achieve and why, making their learning highly transferable. With a focus on applied knowledge supported by theory in context, graduates leave the program with a cohesive knowledge base from which to launch their careers, plus benefit from greater career mobility and choice, going forward," said David Bray, Program Coordinator and Professor for Algonquin's BIT program.

A unique opportunity existed during the program's design stage --- to embed eight (4 CCNA and 4 CCNP) Cisco Networking Academy courses in the curriculum. This was an opportunity to commit to keeping current, ensuring that graduates will leave the program with relevant, up-todate networking knowledge. The curriculum is constantly renewing, ensuring concepts, ideas and content remain fresh. And while not all graduates will end up working with Cisco equipment, it's likely they will run into it at some point in their careers. Certifi cation exams for Cisco Networking Academy's CCNA and CCNP designation are the students' responsibility upon program completion.

This year, the BIT program exceeded its target of 40 students, enrolling at full capacity of 48 students for fall 2008.

Cisco's Networking Academy is bridging education systems in an increasingly mobile and diverse population. In over 160 countries and with more than 2,400 academies, the Networking Academy has taught more than 2 million students worldwide since 1997. If you would like to learn about the various applied degree programs, or diploma programs that offer Cisco Networking Academy hands-on skills in networking and applied technical knowledge visit: http://cisco.netacad.net or call us at 416-306-7126.
For more information on the Carleton/Algonquin BIT degree program, visit: www.bitdegree.ca

Corporate Canada has a clear interest in ensuring that Canada's post-secondary institutions – universities, colleges and technical institutes - are able to attract and graduate sufficient numbers of students to help replace the growing numbers of educated baby boomers who will be retiring from the workforce over the next decade. Canadian companies must ensure that their talent pool remains at levels adequate to fill demand – now two-thirds of all new jobs – for highly skilled workers. This is becoming a serious challenge as Canada's own demographic trends (a low birth rate and an aging population) are compounded by growing global competition to address shortages of skilled labour. A quick look at enrolment headcounts in elementary and secondary schools makes it clear that the mid-term outlook within Canada provides no relief as low birth rates compound the challenges of replacing an aging workforce. Encouraging more Canadians to seek post-secondary credentials is an essential strategy. One that Canadian corporations need to embrace.

Current and projected labour shortages are a growing concern for Canada's employers. Resource, manufacturing and service companies in several provinces already face serious labour shortages. While these shortages have varied by sector and region, reports indicate that inter-provincial migration is reallocating the pockets of labour surplus. Canada's mining industry projects a shortage of up to 95,000 skilled workers in that key sector, with the industry losing up to 40 percent of the existing workforce over ten years. The petroleum sector sees the shortage reaching 110,000 over the same period. The bidding war for engineers of all types is driving some salaries into the six-fi gure range. The IT industry is being equally aggressive in its bid for science, math and computing engineering graduates. Bell Enterprise Group projects that 90,000 jobs won't be filled by 2010. A December 2007 study released by the Conference Board of Canada sets Quebec's labour shortage in 2030 at 363,000 skilled workers.

While many look to immigration (and foreign students) as a quick fix, foreign workers and students must overcome a variety of hurdles to workforce integration. And there are indications this may be a moving target as international competition for such workers is on the rise. "Australia Steps Up Pace of Clearing Backlog of Skilled Migrants Visas" is the May 2008 headline in Life In Australia, noting this was important to counter strong competition from "other labour hungry countries such as New Zealand and Canada". Monster.ca quotes a 2006 manpower survey indicating "Canada has one of the most acute labour shortages in the industrialized world" based on a survey of 33,000 employers in 23 countries. The three countries with the highest rate of employers experiencing the labour crunch were Mexico (78%), Canada (66%) and Japan (58%). So where's the leverage? And what can Corporate Canada do about it?

Six out of every ten Canadian adults between 25 and 64 had completed some form of post-secondary education in 2006 according to the latest Statistics Canada census. In other words, four out of every ten had completed only high school or less. Who are these four out of ten Canadians? A disproportionate number of these non-participants in higher education are found in Canada's low-income households, among Canada's First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations (on an off-reserve) and among some ethnic communities with historically low rates of post-secondary participation and completion. According to recent Statistics Canada data, 11% of Canadians aged 20 to 24 have not completed high school. Approximately 60% of youth do not continue their studies immediately after high school, either because they delay their entry into post-secondary education or because they choose never to pursue higher education. In recent years, a clear portrait of the challenges and barriers these groups face in accessing and succeeding in higher education has emerged. These barriers – which include academic, financial, informational/ motivational, social/cultural factors - disproportionately affect youth from low-income families, youth whose parents have little or no post-secondary education and Aboriginal youth.


While these statistics may sound daunting, a number of bold and innovative experiments are underway to increase the likelihood that those students currently not pursuing further education will overcome their challenges and that their outcomes once they reach the postsecondary level will improve. Canada must ensure that successful projects are recognized and brought to scale if they are to make a dint in the challenge of ensuring more Canadians complete a postsecondary credential. Corporate Canada can and should play a role.

Canadian's corporate sector has an opportunity to move beyond the typical role of business in higher education – the support of the best and the brightest. Business can help those individuals not yet bound for post-secondary education to realize their potential by contributing to shaping policies and programs to overcome barriers to further study. Canadian businesses can play a key role not only in labour-force training but in ensuring many young Canadians the opportunity to fully engage in the possibilities of the 21st century. In the process, they will strengthen their own sustainability.

The challenge is not lost on our competitors.

Many individual American businesses offer need-based scholarships and work-study programs and support outreach programs for individuals from backgrounds that do not traditionally lead to post-secondary education.

But more importantly, organizations such as the national Business-Higher Education Forum and state and regional consortiums such as Ohio's BAHEE (Ohio Business Alliance for Higher Education and the Economy) and SECME (South Eastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering) have moved to become active players in innovating and supporting programs designed to expand post-secondary opportunities for groups currently underrepresented in the country's post-secondary institutions. The Business Higher-Education Forum (BHEF) ran its inaugural Institute for Strategic Investment in Education at Harvard's Graduate School in Education in April 2008, a three-day workshop on strategically targeting corporate philanthropic resources to maximize the impact in education. This workshop is part of the College Readiness Initiative, a five-part strategy aimed at corporate engagement, knowledge-building, dissemination, advocacy and action.

Located in Washington, DC, the BHEF is a coalition of corporate, academic and foundation members (Fortune 500 CEOs, prominent college and university presidents and foundation leaders) who work to advance innovative solutions to education challenges by investing in student achievement, post-secondary readiness and success.

The Australian Business, Industry and Higher Education Collaboration Council offers another model worth exploring. The Council seeks to coordinate the role of business within the higher education sector, chiefly by bringing business into the policy discussion by enabling dialogue with the country's universities and technical/vocational sector. In particular, the Council focuses on promoting regional engagement between the business community and the education sector.

These consortiums of industry leaders, post-secondary institutions, foundations and governments are breaking new ground in establishing partnerships to ensure their country's continued economic competitiveness through social equity in higher education. They serve as leading examples of the concrete and concerted action that corporate Canada can take to move forward on the pressing issue of improving post-secondary access for all Canadians.

Canadian governments spend considerable amounts of money – more now than ever – on financial aid for students to pay for their education and living costs. In 2006-07, the federal and provincial governments provided students with more than $4 billion in student loans, which must be repaid, and non-repayable grants. In nominal terms, this amount is the most ever spent by the public sector in the area of student support. And the money is needed. Since the mid-1990s, tuition and other education costs have increased at a rate well above the consumer price index.

The good news is that student aid has expanded throughout the current decade, after declining during the late 1990s. Governments have been increasing student aid since 2001-02, spending more on loans and grants. The after-inflation average value of loans and grants for the last two years for which data are available (2005-06 and 2006-07) is 15% higher than the amount provided during the start of the decade. Expansion of student aid during this decade has occurred on a per capita basis as well. Students are currently receiving seven percent more than those who studied at the beginning of the decade, after adjusting for infl ation. In total, Canadian governments provided students and their families with nearly $7 billion in loans, grants, tax credits and education savings grants in 2006-07.

However, while students are receiving more money, they are not necessarily better off.
The increases in financial aid have simply allowed them to keep pace with the increases in their fi nancial need, which grows with tuition increases as well as the rising cost of living and transportation. One of the chief reasons student financial aid was expanded in 2005-06 was to off-set the rising costs of study.

On the plus side, students receive a larger share of aid in non-repayable grants than ever before.

But because financial aid programs vary from province to province, the share of aid that is non-repayable varies as well – from a low of 12% in B.C. to a high of 48% in Manitoba.

Government financial aid programs do not necessarily cover the total financial need of the students they support, and certainly do not meet the needs of students who are averse to borrowing. In fact, many of the young Canadians we are counting on to help meet the demands of a 21st-century economy are shut out of higher education. They are uncertain of their prospects and therefore reluctant to go into debt for what they perceive as a risky venture.

During four days in August Grade 7 students from a public school in Hong Kong and Grade 4 students from a Quebec school worked together in Toronto on research questions about the ecosystem health of two ponds, one in a city park and another at the zoo. They sampled water, measured air and water temperatures, turbidity, pH, oxygen levels and conductivity and made careful observations about the plant and animal life in and around the ponds. They developed hypotheses to explain the differences between the two ponds supplementing their Cantonese, French and English with gestures and drawings when understanding each other was difficult.


The Chinese students explained that their outstanding fluency in English had a lot to do with collaborative work with Spanishspeaking students in Mexico using online connections and video conferencing during the school year. The much younger French-speaking students gained new enthusiasm for their English studies. These children are 'knowledge builders'. Not only are they learning science by improving their understanding of natural and man-made environmental phenomena, they are collaborating across cultures and negotiating understanding across language barriers.

Social networking is growing among classes in different parts of Canada and with schools in many different countries. Kids are creating websites, blogs, wikis and podcasts. They are using YouTube, MySpace, cell phones, notebooks and laptops. They create and publish their ideas and they build on each other's work. Of course, there are dangers to children on the Internet but there is also a vast wealth of valuable information and resources, experts to contact and worthwhile communities to join or create. Schools that embrace social networking teach students how to use it responsibly and safely.

All Canadian schools have Internet access although some still wait for the broadband high-speed capacity that those in the south take for granted. All have computers. In a select few, every student has a laptop. Maine became the first US state to provide every middle school student with an iBook. The Eastern Townships School Board in Quebec was the first school district in Canada to provide all students in Grades 7- 11 with laptops. New Brunswick recently completed a research project to find out the impact of providing dedicated access to a notebook for each student in Grades 7 and 8. Alberta Education's emerge Wireless Learning Project was initiated in response to a growing trend toward one-to-one mobile computing in school. Two big questions challenge education decision-makers. What difference does one-to-one mobile computing make to learning? Does that difference merit the large initial and ongoing financial investment in the technology?

The second of these questions is probably the easier to answer. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization is shipping machines to developing nations at a unit cost of $188 with the aim of creating educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with "a rugged, lowcost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning." Intel intends to make its Classmate PC, a competitor to OPLC's XO machine, available in North America and Europe for under $300 and other manufacturers are expected to follow suit. The annual average cost of educating each public school student in Canada is almost $10,000. It may not be cost that bucks the trend towards radically new learning environments for children and youth. But it could be a lack of vision. Whether or not the trend to 1:1 computing in schools is worthwhile will depend not on the technology itself but on what teachers and students do in these new learning environments.


Standardized test scores often don't change much in 1:1 learning environments possibly because they measure so little of what students are actually learning. Evaluations of oneto- one mobile computing projects do report that students consistently demonstrate effective research, analytical and evaluative skills; they write more producing work of greater length and higher quality than previously; motivation and persistence levels are higher; students with special needs increase their confidence and quality of work and students become better learners and more responsible for the quality of the work they produce. They become literate in the technologies that have changed the nature of business, politics and the ways most of us find information. As Nicholas Negroponte, founder of OPLC tells us, computers for kids is "an education project, not a laptop project." Equipping teachers with the new models of professional practice and the skills essential to fulfilling that promise maybe the most important investment we make in learning in the 21st century.

Thousands of innovative ideas are generated by Canadians daily. But ideas are only that, ideas, until someone does something with them. You cannot patent just a thought, but you can protect its potential application or a framework to support it. Ideas and their applications need nurturing to bear fruit. Colleges and institutes of technology specialize in applied research, providing the advanced skills, the incubating environment, and the wisdom to bring ideas to fruition. With their industry partners they access a marketplace that generates benefi ts for the workplace and the community.

ONE FOCUS OF CANADA'S SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY agenda is the generation of commercial concepts from discovery research, or research conducted solely to expanding human knowledge. Applied research in contrast is conducted to explore practical uses and commercial opportunities. Colleges and institutes of technology with their strategic industry partnerships create, for example, prototypes, incubate advances and conduct model simulations to test the market application.

CANADA'S COLLEGES AND INSTITUTES OF TECHNOLOGY are frontline players in the changing technological and advanced skill requirements of the 21st century Canadian marketplace. Applied research activities enhance the college mandate to produce current, highly skilled talent by providing a rich learning environment for today's students. Real world challenges, hands-on training with leading edge technologies, contact with industry, and advanced skills training in all sectors of the economy are dimensions of the college experience.1


Red River College's Stevenson Aviation and Aerospace Training Centre developed the award-winning "Raycer" Solar Car using lightweight composite materials, aerodynamic design, and innovative solar-array technology.

The College of the North Atlantic's Burin Wave Power Pump uses the energy inherent in ocean waves for on-shore applications and electrical power generation.

Seneca College's Mon AmiTM is a patent pending Assistive Device with wide spectrum functionality for enhancing independent living of elderly and individuals with physical disabilities.

George Brown College's Centre for Advanced Engineering Technologies, Bloorview Kids Rehab, and Siemens Canada developed a prototype of an electronic pen with commercial applications as a diagnostic tool for children with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

Trans BioTech, a technology transfer centre located at Cégep Lévis Lauzon, is developing a platform technology for designing analytical equipment that can calculate the level of a given substance in a complex biological matrix for a variety of industrial applications.

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology launched the NAIT Shell Manufacturing Centre, a one-stop facility for state-of-the-art technologies in manufacturing, mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, and applied information systems.

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology was instrumental in developing a comprehensive mapping research project integrated with a database that facilitates most-direct-routing of emergency personnal to rural locations.

SAIT Polytechnic joined forces with Microsoft, HP, Cisco and DIRTT Environmental Solutions to create the Centre of Innovative Information Technology Solutions, which offers a simulation pod for beta-testing IT solutions and business process modelling in a secure environment.

Camosun College's Pacifi c Institute for Sport Excellence developed a mobile, environmentally-adjustable training trailer that stimulates a full range of heat, altitude, and humidity conditions which impact on elite athlete training and competition.

The Olds College School of Innovation houses a 2,060 acre farm that produces environmental microbiology and agronomy, livestock genetics, crops and bioprocessing innovations.

1. [ Fisher, R. (2008, March). The college advantage: Private sector innovation and highly qualifi ed personnel. Higher Education Research and Policy Development Directorate, Industry Canada.]

"Innovation happens on the shop floor when the widget out of a box doesn't work," explains Robert Luke, Director of Applied Research and Innovation at George Brown College in Toronto. In the continuum of research, applied research is essential to implement and sustain discovery-oriented basic research.

This is the research that will enhance Canada's productivity and competitive edge - and it has been embraced by Canada's seven polytechnics.

Collectively, Canada's seven polytechnics - BCIT, SAIT Polytechnic, Conestoga College, George Brown College, Humber College, Sheridan Institute and Seneca College – annually educate more than 400,000 highly-qualified people essential to Canada's economy by offering an array of credentials including bachelor degrees, diplomas, apprenticeships, certificates, postgraduate offerings, continuing education and corporate training, across a wide range of fields.

Distinctive to Canada's polytechnics is their ability to provide pathways from degrees to specialized certificates or from diplomas to degrees allowing students, regardless of where they are in the education continuum, to upgrade their credentials in response to industry needs. Integral to polytechnic education is the opportunity given to students to participate in applied research and commercialization projects. The applied research conducted at these institutions is driven by the need to solve industry problems.

According to Statistics Canada, the private sector performed $14.7 billion of research and development in 2005. But most of that money is being invested by the largest companies. Fewer than 300 Canadian firms invest more than $3 million in research and development each year, and 10 of those companies accounted for 24 per cent of private sector research.

Unlike large companies with an in-house research and development capacity, most of Canada's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need some sort of research support. These firms do not tend to have the critical mass to allow a production line to be taken offline in a bid to experiment with a process or product.

To grow and compete on the world stage, Canada's SMEs need speedier access to commercialization services that respond to their lack of research infrastructure and which is provided through a platform that acknowledges the inherent challenges that they face. Polytechnics are there to provide Canada's SMEs with the real solutions they need, when they need them.

An example of this powerful untapped potential is when a polytechnic receives a limited amount of financial support; it is often able to rapidly transform the funds into new business. Five years ago, for example, Sheridan Institute leveraged $1 million from the Municipality of Oakville to establish a business incubator for digital industries. That has led to the birth of a major animation firm known as Pipeline Studios.

When students are hired to support applied research projects alongside their instructors, they are applying the theory of a classroom into real-world challenges, and using the latest technology that a workplace can offer.

"The true benefit [of applied research] is to drive leading-edge, new knowledge into the curriculum," suggests Alex Zahavich, Director of Applied Research and Innovation Services at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary. "You do not get emerging technology out of a textbook that is four years old." Zahavich explains.

Through their involvement in applied research activities, polytechnics are in a position to provide the important support that will ensure Canadian SMEs leverage their own ideas and create jobs at home.

For more information on Canada's polytechnics, please visit our website at

W hen the concept of MaRS was being developed in 2000 no one was quite sure what exactly it would look like.

Academic and industry leaders knew that Ontario – the birthplace of insulin and stem cell biology, home to leading hospitals and universities – was rich with top-ranked research. They also recognized that the province had only a modest track record in harnessing the commercial value of that research.

Yet the potential abounds. Toronto alone boasts the third largest cluster of biosciences expertise in North America. The University of Toronto publishes more scientific papers than any other North American academic institution apart from Harvard.

As an independent non-profit organization, MaRS was born from the idea that Ontario needs not only to better capture the relevant commercial potential of its research but it needs to directly connect the worlds of science, business and capital and stimulate a culture of innovation.

A small group of influential Ontario business and community leaders raised an initial $11 million seed fund, which went on to leverage signifi cant provincial and federal investments. Thus began a collective effort to turn a vision into reality – creating an agile, marketfacing engine designed to drive commercial success and help create global companies from Ontario's science and technology.

Fast forward to 2008, three years after MaRS opened its doors on a newly developed 700,000 sq. ft. centre, and that innovation engine is humming.

The building itself is home to a mix of 70 tenants employing more than 2,000 people, from leading research groups to emerging companies, mature private-sector tenants and venture capitalists alongside policymakers, professional services and networking organizations. The University of Toronto's Martin Prosperity Institute and its Director, Richard Florida, are located at MaRS. The University of Waterloo also has an offi ce, as does London, Ontario's newly integrated technology transfer unit. And the physical footprint is growing with an adjacent 700,000 sq. ft. Phase II development – in partnership with Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. of Pasadena, California – to be completed in 2010.

But the heart of MaRS' mission lies in connecting Ontario entrepreneurs with the resources they need, not only in science and technology but also in the emerging field of social enterprise. In addition to providing market intelligence and extensive advisory and mentorship services, MaRS designs and delivers engaging hands-on entrepreneurship programs.

MaRS Innovation is a new collaboration that aggregates the discovery and commercialization assets of Toronto institutions:

  1. Biodiscovery Toronto
  2. Bloorview Kids Rehab
  3. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  4. The Hospital for Sick Chidren
  5. Mars Discovery District
  6. Mount Sinai Hospital
  7. The New Women's College Hospital
  8. Ontario College of Art and Design
  9. Ryerson University
  10. St. Michael's Hospital
  11. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  12. Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  13. University Health Network
  14. University of Toronto
Building Prosperity
Research infrastructure funding provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation is contributing to world-class research and innovation at Canada's universities, colleges...
Canada at the Summit
Canada's colleges, universities, businesses and municipalities are forging economic alliances to take on the world.
The Life Changers
Canada's future as a nation
of innovation.
Education + Innovation
Leading thinkess turn their attention to the roll of education in Canada's economic competitiveness.
Universities: Majoring in Canada's Future
"The pace is being set around the world by countries that are investing in knowledge and innovation." Where does Canada stand in the race for knowledge?
Colleges on a Mission
The core mission of Canada's colleges and institutes is to stimulate the economic and social development of the communities they serve.
Ramping Up
Employment Skills
Choosing colleges and institutes for adult re-skilling and workforce-based training is the answer for smart businesses.
The Knowledge
"For every dollar a student invests in a college or institute education, he or she will receive a cumulative $4.57 in higher future earnings for the next 30 years."
What is an Educated
A sampling of ideas and research in the human sciences that illustrate the opportunities to become both a learning and innovative society.
New Learning for a
New Economy
Exploring learning, innovation and the relationships among them.