By Craig Bamford
Welcome to Notables for October 17th, 2018!
First this week:
The University of Toronto (UofT) has been hailed by Thomson Reuters as Canada’s most innovative university, and one of the world’s best.
Thomson Reuters produced their yearly survey of the most innovative institutions, measuring metrics like patent volume, patent citations, and the number of scientific articles written in collaboration with industry, metrics that are intended to represent how an institution can “power new markets and industries”. The top-10 spots were dominated by the well-known and well-funded American institutions like Stanford, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One might expect that, but what’s unexpected is the University of Toronto’s stunning rise in the rankings, going up 11 spots to 35th overall. The University of British Columbia also placed on the list, capturing 61st place.
UofT’s release on the subject – which also addressed their top-spot ranking in the Macleans survey of medical and doctoral universities – proudly hailed this ranking, and noted the other international awards the University has received: Times Higher Education, QS World Rankings, Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, U.S. News Best Global Universities and National Taiwan University.
Mitacs supports students researching abroad
Second this week: Mitacs pairs with UofT to fund global research.
More news from UofT, announcing that they’ve signed a new research partnership with Mitacs. The three-year deal is a $1.4 million partnership intended to help UofT students with “formative research opportunities abroad”.
Both inbound and outbound students, in any discipline, will be able to take advantage of the funding: outbound students are eligible for $6000 in funding for research placements of at least 12 weeks, while inbound students will receive the same amount, with Mitacs providing $3,000 and UofT (or a partner institution) making up the difference.
“It will help UofT students acquire experience in “pre-eminent labs and other research settings around the world”, says Christopher Yip, associate vice-president of international partnerships at UofT. In turn, incoming students will “bring an array of cultural perspectives to campus”, and both will “nucleate new ideas and concepts”. In turn, Ridha Ben Mrad, chief research officer and associate academic director at Mitacs, said that “to succeed in the global economy, innovators need opportunities to develop their skills in international environments.”
Finally this week: reconsidering business innovation.
Peter Nicholson, inaugural president of the Council of Canadian Academies, has produced a new paper reexamining how businesses should approach innovation.
Nicholson highlights a familiar issue for RE$EARCH MONEY readers: that successive governments have attempted to promote business innovation for decades and have largely failed, and that that is partially because Canadian businesses’ success has often been decoupled from their ability to innovate. He notes that this time may be different and highlights a variety of issues that may change all this: the “great growth slowdown” affecting much of the industrialized world, where per capita GDP growth has steadily declined, the increasing complexity and difficulty of productivity-boosting innovation, the ongoing globalization of production chains (and the concomitant rise of populist protectionism), the ongoing replacement of “white collar” work with artificial intelligences, the rising challenge of sustainability, and an aging population.
Business cannot ignore these trends – though currently, Nicholson says that the situation is “not encouraging”. Like much of the rest of the developed world, Canada needs to rethink the post-1970’s neoliberal consensus, and look into how public procurement, export facilitation, encouraging user demand, and intellectual property reform can spur business innovation.
For more on Nicholson and innovation, check out the Policy Options podcast.
Notables is a weekly collection of interesting science, technology, investment and innovation reports, press releases and other news bytes from around the web. Notables are curated and written by Craig Bamford.
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The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of RE$EARCH MONEY.