Panel 314 - A Winning Formula for Building Regional Innovation Capacity: Skills, Research and Collaboration

Conference Day: 
Day 1 - November 13th 2019
Takeaways and recommendations: 

A Winning Formula for Building Regional Innovation Capacity: Skills, Research and Collaboration

Organized by: Colleges and Institutes Canada and National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations

Speakers: Pamela Gray, Vice President of Project Development, BioTalent Canada; Diane Burt, Associate Vice President, Research and Program Innovation, New Brunswick Community College; Kevin Holmes, Managing Director, Social Innovation Lab, Algonquin College; Christina Weise, Chief Executive Officer, Research Manitoba

Moderator: Jeffrey Crelinsten, CEO, Research Money


  1. Innovation is not a synonym for research. Innovation is about creating value for someone, making someone’s life better.  

  2. A successful research-industry collaboration is the Prairie Research Kitchen in Manitoba. It brings researchers at Red River College together with industry and farmers to help local companies innovate. (e.g., development of a gluten-free perogy provided a local company with local pea protein products.) 

  3. It can be difficult for students to address pressing industry or societal challenges as projects often have to align with school semesters.

  4. Labour market research can provide insight into the job-ready talent industry needs and where skills gaps are. (e.g., BioTalent Canada’s wage-subsidy programs provide funds to onboard and train new talent, providing an incentive to hire people they may not otherwise consider.)

  5. Among the challenges: how to honour and credit knowledge-keeping in indigenous communities, how to bring urban innovations to rural areas, and how to ensure each sector has training opportunities to understand how other groups work and what their needs are. 


  1. Adopt best practices that spur innovation and build regional capacity, such as:

    1. Integrate applied research into the education curriculum, including partnering within the community or with industry. (e.g., New Brunswick Community College students developed a food product from the waste materials of a lobster processing company.)

    2. Value student’s skills and perspectives to get them excited about innovative projects. (e.g., at Algonquin College’s Social Innovation Lab, students decide which projects they will work on, and connect with community organizations they believe they can help.)

  2. Use policy and funding requirements to encourage groups with different skillsets to collaborate. 

  3. Funding application processes can encourage more inclusive collaborations that are open to new approaches (e.g., social innovation), rather than being tailored only to academia or industry.



Applied research comes of age”, by Research Money