Advanced manufacturing – the development of innovative technologies to create new products, enhance processes and establish more efficient ways of working – is the economic heartbeat of many communities across Ontario.
By establishing meaningful partnerships with local communities and industry players, Ontario’s universities are fostering an ecosystem that encourages innovation, productivity and sustainability.
This week, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) brought together researchers, students, government, industry and academia to an event at Queen’s Park showcasing innovative research in advanced manufacturing, in areas such as critical minerals, electric vehicles, robotics, modular construction and more.
In his opening remarks, Alan Shepard, COU Chair and President & Vice-Chancellor of Western University said, “Ontario has long been a hub of manufacturing excellence, contributing significantly to the province’s economic growth. The emergence of advanced manufacturing represents a transformative shift in the way we design, produce and distribute goods. When we all work together, we get a much stronger Ontario.”
The Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop, highlighted the important work being done by universities to encourage talent, unlock breakthrough technologies and sustainability in the advanced manufacturing sector.
“Today’s theme comes with tremendous opportunity, it is no secret that Ontario is a power house of ideas, innovation and discovery in this field, and the ripple effects of these are well paying jobs that help grow our Ontario economy,” said Dunlop. “Cities across Ontario have attracted major investments in the tech sector – the major part of this success is a result of research centres and universities who help grow our province’s economy by developing talent in this burgeoning field. It’s a win-win for our students and our economy.”
Also in attendance were MPP Peggy Sattler, Critic, Colleges and Universities, John Fraser, MPP for Ottawa South and Interim Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and MPP Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party, who spoke how Ontario can be a global leader in clean, reliable, affordable energy. They also spoke about the opportunities that exist to build upon our collective strengths and apply the innovation and skills coming out of Ontario’s universities to the advanced manufacturing industry.
Flavio Volpe, President, Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association highlighted how he partnered with Ontario’s universities to bring to life his idea of building a Canadian car, “We found a lot of good partners along the way to feature what we can do in collaboration with the university sector. We found that we can (collaborate on) commercially ready technology… and had submissions from all the universities present here today. We want to demonstrate that all of you can contribute to the story of Ontario’s technology leadership. Give us technology solutions, and we will give you a platform.”
Vivian Chiem, President, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance expressed how post-secondary education and experiential learning is enhancing the ways students contribute to the labour market. “By improving employability, we are not only ensuring students reap the benefits of post-secondary education, but are also positioning Ontario’s graduates to be capable and confident leaders in the different fields that they work in,” Chiem shared.
Around the room, university researchers also had the opportunity to engage with attendees and demonstrate the pioneering research taking place at university campuses – from micro-mobility electric vehicles to self-driving labs combining AI and automation.
The innovative research and discoveries displayed around the room were just a small sample of the many ways Ontario’s universities are fueling the advanced manufacturing supply chain. Through talent and skills development, partnership with community and industry, and research and innovation, universities are making a tangible impact on the province’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem.
In his concluding remarks, COU President and CEO, Steve Orsini said, “Thank you to the students, innovators, and entrepreneurs for bringing new ideas in driving advanced manufacturing – and for bringing expertise, talent and commitment to the province which is fostering partnerships and fueling jobs and growth in communities throughout Ontario.”
Read our booklet, A Plan for Prosperity: Fueling the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain, From Critical Minerals to Electric Vehicles and Beyond, to learn more about how Ontario’s universities are keeping the province at the forefront of advanced manufacturing through the multitude of opportunities that arise when universities, government and industry collaborate, shaping a future where advanced manufacturing in Ontario thrives without limits.