By Anne Kershaw
Close to 160 researchers, entrepreneurs and representatives of the aerospace industry participated in a partnering forum this month designed to identify collaboration opportunities.
Hosted by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), the event marked the launch of OCE’s second Aerospace R&D Challenge.
The initiative involves partnerships with the Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC), the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
This R&D Challenge, which is being offered through OCE’s Voucher for Industry Association R&D Challenge Program, aims to support collaborative research and development projects by Ontario industry and academic research partners.
A $2.5-million initiative, it will support areas of technology that are strategically important to the Ontario aerospace sector. The primary goals of the program include development of technological breakthroughs and new enabling technologies with significant economic benefit for Ontario, including jobs and revenues.
“This event is all about ensuring that the success of the aerospace sectors and its highly competitive, global positioning continues -- and grows even stronger,” says OCE President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr.
“OCE is pleased to have this opportunity to work with our partners to drive industry-academic collaborations aimed at producing innovative new technologies that will excite global markets.”
In recent years, OCE has been playing an active role in supporting industry-academic collaborations in aerospace. OCE and OAC have worked together in supporting collaborative R&D through a previous $2.5-million program investment supporting technology of strategic importance to Ontario’s aerospace sector.
This has resulted in industry-academic collaborations being funded by OCE and NSERC in areas such as converting to more reliable and greener aircraft and making plane travel more comfortable through improvements to seating, lighting, airflow noise and vibration.
Earlier this year, within a few months of the federal government announcing CARIC, OCE and OAC partnered to sign an MOU with CARIC to lead the CARIC regional office in Ontario and work together to identify and develop R&D projects, bringing together potential industry-academic collaborators and leveraging provincial and federal resources and funding.
“This was a great event,” says Richard Worsfold, Business Development Director at OCE and Ontario Regional Director for CARIC. “We had strong representation from small and medium-sized businesses and a good balance of industry with academia and government.”
“OCE’s partnership with OAC and CARIC worked extremely well. And, in sharing our success stories, we were able to demonstrate how partnerships can work towards producing significant outcomes.”
The Partnering Forum event directly followed CARIC’s national conference held the previous day.
“I was impressed by how well run these conferences were,” says attendee Chris Ouslis of Redtree Robotics. “Things were on time, the durations were enforced, and OCE did a great job connecting industry and academia. I've never seen a cross-functional conference operate so beneficially.”