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How Academic-Industry Collaboration Maximizes Innovation

Claudia Krywiak Ontario Center of Innovation

Claudia Krywiak

President & CEO, Ontario Centre of Innovation

Home to 46 publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, Ontario boasts more universities and colleges than any other province in the country — creating a unique, knowledge-rich ecosystem capable of supporting the translation of research into economic outcomes and driving our competitiveness in the fastest growing market of the future: the intangible economy.

And, like any ecosystem, diversity fosters resilience. As Ontario’s companies continue to reduce in-house research and development (R&D) spending and our post-secondary institutions respond to the dramatic challenges of the past year, being able to leverage the strength of the wider innovation network and build effective industry-academic partnerships presents an important avenue to unlocking new economic and social benefits.

The Ontario Centre of Innovation has supported this unique value proposition for over 30 years, leveraging deep relationships across Ontario’s industry and post-secondary institutions to connect the dots and bring potential collaborators together to accelerate the development and commercialization of new technologies and intellectual property (IP).

The goal of this collaboration is simple: to maximize the commercial and social benefit of research developed in the province’s research institutions and build R&D and innovation capacity in our companies. This, in turn, supports the transfer of technology and talent to local industry, leads to the creation of ventures that address market needs, and accelerates the commercialization of home-grown IP.

Strengthening Ontario’s position

While academic research is an incredible resource in facilitating innovation and growth, the opportunity to connect this capacity with Canadian businesses through an industry-pull approach dramatically improves the likelihood of successful commercialization and economic benefit to Canada.

This approach is especially important in key areas where Ontario has strength — such as advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, life sciences, autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, and 5G application development — as these remain critical assets for small- and medium-sized enterprises deploying made-in-Ontario tech and exporting it globally.

If we are truly to compete, succeed, and lead in the intangible economy, we must prioritize opportunities to accelerate the commercialization of IP, such as increasing collaborative R&D projects between Ontario’s industry and academia, allowing local companies to gain greater access to cutting-edge technologies, and providing students with the opportunity to work on industry challenges.

But above all, it’s the public who stand to benefit most, with the acceleration of previously unimagined technological innovations capable of vastly improving the environmental, social, and economic prosperity of all Canadians.

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