Ontario colleges are urging the provincial government to make innovation a priority in this year's budget by making upfront investments of $30 million for market-driven research.
The federal government has increased funding for college applied research. However, there is a need for increased provincial support to drive innovation that will help strengthen Ontario's economy.
“Fanshawe staff and students work with external partners to develop research projects and programs to confront real problems with thoughtful and pragmatic solutions,” says Dan Douglas, dean of Fanshawe's Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI). “Investments in research will bolster innovation, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.”
Colleges are increasingly playing a 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 and 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 engages and empowers new generations of innovators,” Douglas says. “It also enriches students' experiential learning while supporting commercialization work at small and emerging businesses.”
Last fall for the second consecutive year, Fanshawe was named one of Canada's top 50 research colleges by Research Infosource Inc. In 2015, Fanshawe's CRI started more than 200 research projects with involvement from more than 160 companies and/or institutions.
Some project examples include:
- An international collaborative research partnership with the Alzheimer Outreach Services of McCormick Home to investigate whether horticultural therapy and other garden-related activities could improve the well-being of those living with Alzheimer's disease.
- A partnership with Hudson Boat Works, one of the three top manufacturers in the world that produces custom Olympic class rowing shells. Fanshawe is working with the company to design and build a first-of-its-kind boat test stand capable of determining the stiffness of a boat – a key measure of its performance – by simulating forces it will face during competition.
- Working with TRY Recycling Inc. to explore whether or not crushed mixed glass and asphaltic shingle waste materials could be used as additives to reduce the amount of aggregates traditionally used in concrete production
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