Ontario’s 24 colleges will now play an even stronger role in fueling innovation through their applied research activities and strategic collaborations with industry thanks to an exciting new, $20-million commitment by the provincial government for applied research and development.
At an event at Conestoga College in Kitchener Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne introduced the Colleges Applied Research and Development Fund (CARDF), a college-based innovation and collaboration fund that will drive competitiveness and the creation of high-quality jobs in Ontario’s key industry sectors by supporting industry/post-secondary applied research projects. The fund is in partnership with Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and Colleges Ontario on behalf of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS) as a part of the province’s Business Growth Initiative.
“This is great news and a clear indication of how much the Ontario government values the contribution our colleges are making to advancing innovation in the province,” says OCE’s President and CEO Tom Corr. “Through our work at OCE supporting industry/post-secondary collaborations, we have seen how greatly industry values its partnerships with colleges. By increasing the capacity of colleges to apply their expertise and creativity to meeting challenges faced by industry, Ontario is again demonstrating its commitment to continuing to build an innovation-driven economy.”
CARDF will provide support to colleges across three program streams. The Strategic Sector/Cluster/Technology Platform Projects stream will support start-ups, SMEs and large companies on projects with Ontario colleges that focus on sector or technology challenges that have demonstrable global market potential. Through the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (VTA) stream, student teams guided by college faculty will apply their skills and training to solve business challenges. The College Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP) stream will help Ontario companies develop, implement and commercialize technical innovations by supporting industry/post-secondary collaborations.
“As Premier, it is my job to make sure that students in Ontario are prepared for today’s economy and job market. By increasing access to experiential learning opportunities, where students can solve real-world challenges, we are giving them the tools they need to thrive in the workforce,” said Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario.
With a proven and measurable record of both successful program delivery as well as bridging the gap between industry and post-secondary institutions to promote collaboration and commercialization of breakthrough research, OCE has been entrusted by the government with delivering CARDF in partnership with Colleges Ontario. As a major supporter of colleges through projects across its program portfolio, OCE will leverage its long-standing relationships with the colleges to ensure CARDF has maximum impact.
“The College Applied R&D Fund is a great addition to Ontario’s innovation ecosystem, and one that will directly support experiential learning for college students while connecting them to the needs of the industries and economies of the future,” adds Dr. Corr. “Aligning college-based expertise with the challenges facing Ontario companies will help Ontario generate high-value jobs and support its competitiveness around the globe.”
Full program details can be found on the CARDF webpage.