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September 17, 2018

Conestoga College’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) lab is developing an intelligent robotic system to sort and tape button cell batteries. Photo: Conestoga College

A more inclusive, collaborative innovation ecosystem through applied research

College and institute applied research is the form of innovation that turns ideas into real outcomes, working with industry partners to develop new products, services, and processes; or improve current practices by applying the latest technologies. In 2016-2017, colleges and institutes reported a grand total of almost 7,300 applied research partnerships, 65% of which were with small and medium enterprises (SMEs). By providing partners with access to the required talent and state of the art facilities to drive innovation, colleges and institutes helped develop 700 new products, 1,400 prototypes, 500 processes, and 350 services.

Over 90% of colleges and institutes have dedicated applied research offices, and host more than 215 research centres and over 400 labs that leverage industry and community connections and stimulate innovation. For example:

  • Faculty, students, and industry partners at Conestoga College’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) lab explore technology solutions and products that can be commercialized by local equipment manufacturers to increase e-waste treatment, recycling and landfill diversion rates.
  • The Mobile-First Technology Initiative at New Brunswick Community College conducts research and works collaboratively with partners in the information and communications technology sector to develop advanced mobile first technology.
  • Canada’s Smartest Kitchen at Holland College offers a host of services to businesses of all sizes, including food product development, market research and sensory testing.
  • The Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Sustainable Energy Technology and Energy Efficiency (TERRE) at the Cégep de Jonquière carries out applied research in sustainable supply to help isolated areas free themselves of their dependency on fossil fuels.
  • The Garbarino Girard Centre for Innovation in Seniors Care at Algonquin College is charting a bold new course for geriatric care, providing a learning lab, applied research facility, and an opportunity to collaborate with local health authorities on an adult day-program for seniors with dementia.
  • The Renewable Energy Learning Centre (RELC) at Lakeland College is a net-zero energy facility converted from a former farmhouse and serves as the centrepiece of the college’s research into renewable energy.
  • The Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC) at Selkirk College is a leading-edge research centre specializing in geospatial technologies to aid in solving critical issues pertaining to environmental and socio-economic problems.

These types facilities are the backbone of research at Canada’s colleges and institutes. Of the hundreds of specialized research centres like these across the country, 30 are designated Technology Access Centres (TAC), a network created in 2010 through the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), with the intent of enhancing productivity and innovation in businesses by providing ready access to Canadian college and institute specialized expertise, technology, and equipment.

Budget 2018’s renewed investment in the CCI Program recognized the distinct role that colleges and institutes, and their affiliated research centres, play in Canada’s innovation ecosystem. Still, in order to fully capitalize on their ability to accelerate growth and competitiveness, there is a need for predictable, stable research support funding for applied research offices. In its submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA), CICan recommended amplifying the impact of college and institute applied research offices in the innovation ecosystem with a new annual investment of $40M in research support funding.

Stable research support funding to cover the indirect costs associated with research, including things like facilities maintenance and operating expenses, will help colleges and institutes draw new entrants into regional innovation systems, particularly SMEs, young entrepreneurs and start-ups, facilitate commercialization and connections to other research players including universities and government labs.

This recommendation is essential to building a more inclusive, collaborative innovation ecosystem in Canada. Read CICan’s full submission and recommendations here.

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CICan launches its 2018-2019 Awards of Excellence!

Nominations are now open for the 2018-2019 Awards of Excellence!

The Awards Program recognizes and promotes excellence in colleges, institutes, cégeps, and polytechnics in Canada, showcasing the extraordinary contribution of individuals to their communities and highlighting the role of Canadian institutions in social, cultural, and economic development. For information on nominations, click here. Deadline: November 26, 2018.

CICan is also looking for members for its 2018-2019 Awards of Excellence Selection Committee. Those interested in participating should submit their names here before October 8, 2018.

Please note that translation services will be provided, but selection committee members with the capacity to evaluate nominations in both official languages will be given preference.

Participate in the WFCP 2018 World Congress

With less than a month to go, the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) is excited to share some details of the program and keynote speakers for the 2018 World Congress, Preparing for the Skills Future, Now taking place in Melbourne, Australia from October 8-10. Keynotes and topics of discussion will include:

  • Skills expert Dirk van Damme, Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division (IMEP), OECD (France), joined remotely by education chief Dr Andreas Schleicher, who will present the latest research from the world’s leading education think tank, including the types of skills growing in demand as the future of work becomes increasingly automated;
  • Canadian futurist, entrepreneur, educationalist and humourist, Professor Stephen Murgatroyd, who will explore eight major patterns and trends impacting us all and leading to major change in teaching, learning, skills development, and assessment;
  • Dr David Finegold, President of Chatham University, who will deliver an address focusing on the key global trends shaping the higher-education environment and the challenges and opportunities this creates for the leaders of these institutions;
  • Charles Fadel, a global education thought leader, author, and founder of the Center for Curriculum Redesign, will be sharing his experiences on Education for the Age of Artificial Intelligence, and the many technologies redefining what it means to be human, to succeed in life and work, and the training that requires; and more.

The full congress program is available for download here.

There is still time to register – don’t miss out on the discussion and the opportunity to participate in setting a new future for vocational and professional education worldwide. Register now.

Webinar: Promoting and protecting the psychological health and safety of post-secondary students

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is pleased to offer an upcoming webinar on developing a framework to promote and protect psychological health and safety of post-secondary students: the future workforce.

Join the MHCC and a panel of experts to shine the light on key issues faced by students, hear about some examples of leading practices that are having an impact, and opportunities to further shape Canada’s landscape to promote and protect psychological health and safety of post-secondary students.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, September 26, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm EST, and will be offered in English.

Mental health for all includes students! For more information and to register for this webinar, click here.

Webinar: Supporting international student transitions to permanent resident

CICan is pleased to offer an upcoming webinar on strategies to support newcomer integration in Canada. “Ideal Immigrants: Supporting international student transitions to permanent resident” will look at important questions for colleges and institutes, such as:

  • What are Canada’s colleges and institutes doing to support newcomers to Canada and how can they best support international students throughout the various stages of their integration process?
  • What can individual institutions do to promote social integration, to help students develop a sense of community and to provide guidance and support through the various pressure points from arrival to settlement?
  • How can institutions engage with local employers, promote economic opportunities for students and what does a comprehensive regional approach to retention look like?

The webinar will take place on October 3, from 11:30 to 13:00 EST, and will be offered in English. Registration is required.

To register, please contact Pam Hedderson at by Friday, September 28, 2018 with the names and titles and e-mail addresses of those who will participate. This webinar is offered exclusively to CICan members institutions.

For more information, contact Andrew Champagne at or 613 746 2222 ext. 3190.

Save the Date: Research Data Summit for Colleges, Institutes, and Polytechnics

CICan, Centennial College, and Research Data Canada (RDC) invite senior administrators in applied research offices, computing/IT, and libraries to mark their calendars for an upcoming Summit of Research Data for Colleges, Institutes, and Polytechnics.

The event will take place in the context of consultations on the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Draft Policy recently launched by Canada’s three federal research funding agencies – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), which will impact any organization that receives funds from the agencies.

The event will take place on December 7, from 7:30 – 15:30 at Centennial College in Toronto, ON. It will be offered in English. The event follows another day-long workshop of University Vice-Presidents of Research facilitated earlier this year by RDC on the new draft policy. RDC is pleased to be working with CICan and Centennial College to bring a similar workshop to colleges, institutes, and polytechnics.

Workshop participants will review the draft policy and facilitate the development of individual institutions’ approaches to the policy and to data management in general. The Summit will also include updates on other issues in the digital research infrastructure file, including cybersecurity and intellectual property.

A formal invitation will follow with additional details and registration information. Mark your calendars! For more information, contact Mark Leggott, Executive Director, Research Data Canada at

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that Centennial College is helping companies lacking time and resources solve unique challenges with its Design Jam program? Centennial College Strategic Initiatives and External Relations (SIER), Career Services and Cooperative Education, and Centennial’s Sloan Leadership Academy launched Design Jam to connect recent graduates looking to get career experience with employers looking for help on specific projects. To learn more or to take part in this a collaborative work experience, click here.


Emily Carr University, Vancouver Island University (VIU), and Olds College were pleased to welcome new deans to their faculty. Emily Carr welcomed Steven Lam as the new Dean of Graduate Studies and Associated Vice-President of Research; VIU was pleased to welcome Dr. Patricia O’Hagan to the role of Dean, Health and Human Services; and Olds College welcomed James Benkie as Dean, Program Development, Agriculture Technology.


Jun 20 - 24th, 2021
CICan Leadership Institute for Leaders in International
Toronto, Toronto Marriott City Centre
Jun 20 - 24th, 2021
CICan Leadership Institute for Leaders in Applied Research and Innovation
Toronto, Toronto Marriott City Centre
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Take the Imagine the Future online quiz to share your thoughts on CICan’s new Strategic Plan.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.