Partnerships with local and regional business and community organizations contribute to local communities and economies. These partnerships create jobs for Ontarians, provide shared space and access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure for the larger community, and contribute to community success.
In particular, Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) are innovation hubs that involve university, industry, and community partners to foster entrepreneurship and collaborative activities. In each of the 17 RICs across the province, an Ontario university is represented.
Ryerson University's Magnet Hub
Founded by Ryerson University in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Magnet is a collaborative hub of postsecondary institutions, non-profits, government, labour, and industry partners working to address the unemployment and underemployment of Canadians.
Magnet was originally designed to bridge the gap between postsecondary recruitment and the ability of students to relay their applied skills to real labour market needs. The job-matching technology was tailored to effectively communicate students’ experiences, accomplishments, skills, and education to potential employers.
The Magnet network now serves all Canadians, consisting of more than 90,000 job seekers, 13,000 employers, 30 postsecondary institutions, and 250 community partners.
Noblegen Inc. at Trent University
In the past few years, the commercial application of Trent University research and Trent support for youth entrepreneurs has launched 21 revenue-generating enterprises in the Peterborough region, the incubation of 26 other new enterprises, and the creation of 82 jobs.
As a graduate student at Trent University, researcher Andressa Lacerda collaborated with research assistant Adam Noble to create Noblegen Inc. The company consists of two divisions, water purification and biotechnology. The biotechnology division uses microorganisms to produce biomaterials for commercial and industrial sectors, such as food and beverage, nutritional supplements, and cosmetics.
One of Noblegen’s many initiatives includes developing an alternative way to derive to omega oils than through fish—a depleting resource.
Based at Trent University, the fast-expanding Noblegen has exceeded growth expectations with 30 employees, 12 of whom are Trent graduates. Local partners include Peterborough Community Futures Development Corporation, Cambium Consulting & Engineering, and Champlain Animal Hospital.
Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto Entrepreneurship is a community of entrepreneurship hubs that enables undergraduate and graduate student researchers and innovators to take their early-stage ideas and turn them into prototypes and market-ready products and services.
The university’s ecosystem of accelerators, incubators, programs, courses, and partners helps faculty and students turn ideas into viable ventures. The entrepreneurship community provides mentorship, expertise, space, and networks for all stages of the innovation pipeline and provides the skills and resources entrepreneurs need to effectively pitch ideas, find collaborators, and build and scale their businesses.
In 2015-16, the university’s hubs worked with more than 200 student-led startup teams, attracting more than $38.7 million in investment and generating $5.1 million in sales.
Lakehead University's CASES
Through the support of the federal government, Strategic Infrastructure Fund (SIF), the provincial government, and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), Lakehead University constructed a $23.5-million Centre for Advanced Science and Engineering Studies (CASES) for research on sustainable resource development. The centre houses the majority of Lakehead’s analytical research equipment, as well as contains a designated space for the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and exploration (CESME).
Although sustainable resource development is its primary research focus, CASES also provides services for the creation of new start-ups, connections between businesses and research, and space for at least 80 graduate students to conduct engineering and environmental sciences. Industry partners are invited to use the space.
The building also has a quality assurance/quality control lab management training facility to prepare students for direct entry into technology jobs within the mining sector.
Laurentian University’s Innovation and Commercialization Space
In the fall of 2018, Laurentian University opened the doors of its Cliff Fielding Innovation and Commercialization Space. The 60,000-square-foot facility for research, innovation, and engineering supports the development of a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, fostering on-campus entrepreneurship activities and leveraging a network of investors, alumni, mentors, and other community assets to support youth-led ventures.
The centre includes seminar rooms, an experiential learning space including a makerspace equipped with a 3-D printing station, and workspaces for innovators.
OCAD University's Imagination Catalyst
The Imagination Catalyst (IC) team at OCAD supports and develops entrepreneurial talent among OCAD students, alumni, researchers, and faculty as well as creative people across the Greater Toronto area. In addition to supporting students with entrepreneurship training in the form of an annual boot camp and annual pitch competition, the IC manages a one-year business incubation program to provide development guidance and support to a diverse group of companies committed to design-driven innovation.
For up to 25 professional artists, as well as, maker-based, design-focused start-up entrepreneurs, the IC provides co-working space, access to fabrication studios and specialized equipment, and customized learning opportunities. Participants also have access to the IC’s experienced business advisors, mentor network, professional service providers, and the Imagination Catalyst Fund, a pre-revenue seed fund supported by Relay Ventures and GlobAlive Capital.
University of Toronto's Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship
The Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CEIE) at the University of Toronto facilitates and celebrates multidisciplinary collaboration. Partnering with more than 300 industry partners worldwide, students, researchers, alumni, and staff work together to foster and accelerate innovation, encouraging engineers to bring their ideas to marketplace.
Research by engineering students, Gimmy Chu, Tom Rodinger, and Christian Yan resulted in Nanoleaf. The start-up, developed by the three students, created the world’s most efficient lightbulb, and is now touted as a “green job leader” after opening offices in China and Toronto. Nanoleaf now has between 11 and 50 employees and partners with industries worldwide including Amazon.
UOIT’s ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel
UOIT research, innovation, and entrepreneurship provides students, faculty, and partners with access to state-of-the-art research facilities, such as, the Clean Energy Research Lab, Gaming and Entrepreneurship Labs, and the Crime Scene House. In particular, the ACE climatic wind tunnel is a sophisticated testing facility capable of simulating any weather conditions. ACE provides a unique facility for the development and testing of new products and new technologies in climatic conditions, and is accessible to a variety of community and industry partners.
Richmond Hill-based PrecisionHawk—an international leader in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—recently collaborated with engineering researchers at ACE to test the world’s first extreme-weather UAVs. The ACE facility allowed researchers to explore the impact of harsh climates and unpredictable weather conditions on typical UAV navigation and operation.
Western University’s Propel Entrepreneurship
Emerging as one of Southwestern Ontario’s most active start-up accelerators, Propel Entrepreneurship provides co-working space, seed funding, and mentorship for students and entrepreneurs while hosting pitch competitions, a summer incubator, and workshops for start-ups at all stages of growth.
In 2016-17, Propel registered 277 start-ups with more than 500 students participating; provided $1.8 million in incremental revenues from registered start-ups; pumped $1.45 million in investment into the start-ups; and derived an estimated $6-7 million in “follow-on” investments for Propel graduates.
University of Windsor’s EPICentre
The Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre) at the University of Windsor refers to all of the entrepreneurial activities on campus, including in-class learning and extra-curricular activities. The EPICentre manages three dedicated innovation spaces on two campuses.
At the broadest point in its activity funnel, EPICentre engages students through in-class education and research as well as through research performed by professors involved in entrepreneurship, across faculties such as engineering, business, and the fine arts. The idea-to-start-up funnel is then followed through its various stages, including extra-curricular involvement, mentoring, and discovery, to incubation where start-ups are provided with support to grow their business. Regional partners include the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, WECAN Investors, and the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.
Through the support of the EPICentre initiatives, Colin Matthews, an undergraduate computer science student founded Walk-in Express in 2016. He was accepted into the centre’s RBC EPIC Summer Founders’ Program and developed his clinic patient management application, which he tested locally in various walk-in clinics. Included in his Winter 2017 courses was a class on lean start-up, which involved a team of business students helping him develop his app for course credit.
University of Guelph and The Power of Improvisation
Developed by University of Guelph researcher Dr. Ajay Heble, the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), uses the power of improvisation—the requirement for participants to work together, listen to each other, take turns, and form a whole—for social change.
A long-term partnership between researchers at IICSI and KidsAbility Guelph brought professional musicians to play music with children and youth with varying developmental and physical needs. The results of this community-engaged project have been a series of improvisational workshops and performances that offered revelations about the links between music and community, improvisation and well-being, and sound and self-expression.
Laurentian University's Mobile-CROSH
The Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) at Laurentian University acquired a mobile lab dedicated to the prevention of occupational illness and industry. The only one of its kind in Canada, the lab is a custom-designed, 40-foot vehicle outfitted with innovative, portable research equipment to support research in fatigue mitigation, mobile equipment accident prevention, vibration-induced injury prevention, heat stress prevention, and sleep hygiene.
The Mobile-CROSH supports research in northern, rural, and remote communities and includes a clinical space, and training and meeting spaces. M-CROSH has planned a multi-city tour and outreach to address the unique needs of northern communities.
Industry and community partners include Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, Workplace Safety North, Norcat, and United Steelworkers.
McMaster University’s Research Shop
The Research Shop at McMaster University is a knowledge exchange service that connects student learning with community research needs. Since its inception in 2015, the Research Shop has completed 11 projects, engaging 13 different public, non-profit, and community organizations and more than 40 students from across all faculties. The shop is committed to helping organizations make research-informed decisions and conduct research-grounded advocacy; provide students with experience in collaborative research that responds to practical questions; and foster creativity.
Organizations can approach the Research Shop with a problem or challenge they need to address, and a team of student researchers will work on the challenge, writing a short report for the organization.
Ryerson University and iBEST
The Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology (iBEST) is a unique partnership between Ryerson University and St. Michael’s Hospital, bringing together the university’s engineering and science strengths with the hospital’s biomedical research and clinical expertise. The institute works with industry and community partners to translate research concepts into testable health care solutions, identifying challenges, and rapidly piloting, modifying, and introducing biomedical discoveries to improve health.
The University of Toronto and Health Barrie Project
Researchers from the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto have partnered with the City of Barrie, the Barrie Community Family Health Team and Family Health Organization, and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. The project is a collaborative effort to enhance integration and collaboration between health care services and professionals.
The project aims to build a health care system that is focused on the patient and the role primary care can play, better integrating primary care, home and community care, and population and public health services.
WORLDiscoveries at Western University
Western University’s WORLDiscoveries draws on industry connections, sector-specific market knowledge and business development expertise to help researchers and local inventors commercialize their discoveries through licensing and new company start-ups.
Born out of a partnership between the university, Robarts Research Institute, and Lawson Health Research Institute, the network supports researchers turning their innovations into consumer-ready products, managing a number of active license agreements, and signing approximately 25-30 new license agreements each year.
The University of Waterloo and Grand River Hospital
Established in 2014, a collaborative research partnership between the University of Waterloo and Grand River Hospital (GRH) connects researchers with hospital clinicians to undertake joint research projects and access each institution’s unique strengths; further health-related transformational research; and support the goals of improving patient outcomes and health care delivery processes.
In particular, researchers are looking at aging well and older adult care, conducting research that will enable earlier detection of health issues and improve diagnosis and treatment. Work includes studying nutrition, rehabilitation, pain management, and social isolation.
CityStudio and Wilfrid Laurier University
CityStudio serves as an innovation hub where Wilfrid Laurier students, researchers, City of Waterloo and/or Brantford staff and community stakeholders co-create solutions to support the cities’ strategic priorities.
Delivered through the Global Studies Department in the Faculty of Arts, third- and fourth-year students are able to participate in an immersive, experiential learning course where they work alongside city staff to co-create, design, launch, and test real projects that align with city priorities and community needs.
This one-year pilot program began in January of 2017.