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September 27, 2021

Innovation 101: the headline

The latest data is in and it points to growth in all directions: more projects, more partnerships, more solutions, more students, and more dollars. The success reported paints a picture of what applied research already offers Canada’s innovation ecosystem and what we can still achieve if we think more strategically about investment.

We’re talking, of course, about the most recent results of our annual survey of college and institute applied research! Here’s a snapshot:

  • In 2019-2020, colleges and institutes across the country led over 6,400 applied research projects contributing to all key sectors of the economy. (That’s up 7% over two years!)
  • That amounts to 5,500 new processes, products, prototypes, and services. (An increase of 24% over two years!) And, over 85% of these results were achieved in less than one year.
  • Of 8,000 total research partnerships (up 8% over two years), 67% were with SMEs who often do not have the capacity or resources to conduct cutting-edge research on their own.
  • Forty-two thousand students contributed to these projects at college and institute laboratories and research centres. (Up 45% over two years!)
  • And, the total applied research ecosystem is now worth $354M (An increase of 19% over two years)!

The key takeaway is that the college and institute applied research footprint is growing. Each year, more and more Canadian businesses and community organizations of all sizes (in all areas of the country) benefit from real solutions to real problems. Each year, more students gain valuable work experience and skills to join the job market by participating in cutting-edge research projects. And each year, more Canadians as a whole benefit from innovation that contributes to the long-term sustainability of Canadian industry.

So, if you’re, perhaps, a new or re-elected federal cabinet minister looking for a way to boost local innovation, you might consider college and institute applied research as the innovation engine in their communities, from large urban centres to smaller northern and remote communities.

Observance: on truth and reconciliation

This Thursday, with many across the country, CICan will be observing the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and our virtual offices will be closed for the day. As an employer, we are encouraging staff to reflect and take advantage of resources to learn more about the legacy of the residential school system.

As a national association, we also know that our member institutions are our strongest asset, and earlier this summer we pledged to do everything we can to connect First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities with the resources available at their local institution.

This month, the WFCP’s SDG Affinity Group will also be reflecting on the topic with a virtual panel and discussion on the role of Indigenous knowledge in reaching the SDGs. Take part on Tuesday, September 28 at 8:00 PM EDT.

Recognize and promote excellence at Canadian colleges and institutes

Reminder: Nominate your colleagues and your institution for our Awards of Excellence and recognize their leadership and contributions in ten categories. Help us highlight the role of Canadian post-secondary institutions in social, cultural, and economic development! Deadline: November 26.

Gold recipients in each category will receive a $1,000 prize courtesy of TD Insurance and a complimentary registration to the CICan 2022 hybrid Connection Conference, online and in Halifax!

Take part: Become a member of one of the ten National Selection Committees reviewing nominationsApply before October 4.

Last week to submit: 20 bursaries of $5,000 for students facing barriers to post-secondary education (a potential of one student bursary for every seven applications!)

Remember that this is the last week to nominate a student for the CICan Paul and Gerri Charette Bursary for students who face challenges, mainly financial needs, to participating in and completing their post-secondary education! Deadline: October 1.

  • Questions? Watch the recording of our information sessionfor an overview of the bursary program and best practices for completing the application.
  • New eligibility criteria this year! Students enrolled full time in the first or second year of a multi-year program at a CICan member institution are now eligible.
  • Students from or attending colleges or institutes in rural, remote, or northern areas will be given preference for the 20 bursaries of $5,000 each.

Update! Explore new highlights in our SDG open educational resource

We’ve just completed the latest update of: The SDG Toolkit for Canadian Colleges and Institutes! The guide highlights innovations in finance, academics, student life, infrastructure, and applied research that show how colleges and institutes are leading Canada’s commitments to sustainability and achieving the SDGs. Regular updates mean the guide is always current and a valuable resource for institutions looking to progress in their SDG journey!

This latest update highlights examples from Durham College, Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Iles, Nova Scotia Community College, Cégep du Vieux Montreal, Seneca College, John Abbott College, Cambrian College and Lethbridge College! Explore the guide and share it with your networks.

  • The guide also reinforces our commitment to the SDG Accord: the education sector’s international and collective response to the Global Goals. We signed on last year, and so have ten CICan members (Selkirk College, NSCC, Sheridan College, Confederation College, Lethbridge College, Olds College, Dawson College, Cégep du Vieux Montreal, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles). Join the growing list of signatories!

Report: Working towards the SDGs for a better future

On the occasion of Global Goals Week, we just released our first report outlining how our many programs and partnerships support the SDGs in Canada and abroad! While everything we do is tied to at least one SDG, the report focuses on key goals that have inspired our strategic plan: Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10), Gender Equality (SDG 5), Climate Action (SDG 13), and Quality Education (SDG 4). Check it out!

  • The report also marks one year since we committed to the SDG Accord: the education sector’s international and collective response to the Global Goals. So far, ten CICan members have signed on! (Selkirk College, NSCC, Sheridan College, Confederation College, Lethbridge College, Olds College, Dawson College, Cégep du Vieux Montreal, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles). Join the growing list of signatories!

Reminder: Explore strategies in post-secondary advancement with CCAE

The Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) is bringing together post-secondary advancement professionals for its second summit exploring strategies in donor research, relationship building, volunteer engagement, and accountability! Wednesdays from October 13 to November 10.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that Northlands College is preparing to launch a new Elders Advisory Council that will guide the college’s commitment to a shared understanding of the historical, social and economic realities of the people it serves? Members of the council will each represent one of the college’s locations in Saskatchewan: the Far North, northwest, northeast and central. Northlands College is also a signatory of our Indigenous Education Protocol. Ensuring governance structures recognize and respect Indigenous peoples is one of the protocol’s seven founding principles!


Grande Prairie Regional College appointed Dr. Vanessa Sheane vice-president, Academic and Research.

Justice Institute of British Columbia appointed Cindy Dopson vice-president, People & Culture.


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Leadership Institute for French-speaking Managers
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Perfectionnement pour les responsables internationaux
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Submit a nomination for the WFCP fifth annual Awards of ExcellenceAll CICan member institutions are eligible!

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.