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Meshing the innovation gears between industry and academia

New platform drives innovative partnerships between small businesses and postsecondary researchers.

Innovation is the lifeblood of every economy.

Innovation creates new products and services. It improves processes, increases productivity and generates efficiencies. It responds to challenges such as climate change, pandemics, international competitiveness and the ever-changing requirements of dynamic societies.

Small and medium enterprises are the engines of the economy.

According to the federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) accounted for 99.8 percent of all businesses in 2021, and employed almost 90 percent of the private labour market. Between 2020 and 2021, SMEs were responsible for more than 85 percent of all new job creation.

And yet, despite their pivotal role in the economy and the imperative that exists for SMEs to also power innovation in Canada, a 2023 Statistics Canada study found that only two percent of Canadian businesses invest in research and development – the main input to innovation.

eCampusOntario, the organization that convenes Ontario’s colleges, universities and Indigenous institutes in support of government priorities and industry needs, earlier this year launched a new platform to address this very challenge.

The Ontario Collaborative Innovation Platform (OCIP) is the clutch that meshes the gears between private industry and the public postsecondary sector, accelerating collaboration between them. Leveraging the research and development capabilities that exist at our colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes, OCIP creates a receptive environment in which businesses can articulate an innovation need, and researchers can respond to those needs for assessments, expertise, facilities and people resources. 

OCIP streamlines the R&D process for industry

Innovation partnerships between business and academia delivers tangible benefits to both participants while also improving Ontario’s ability to compete globally. Businesses can find solutions and support for their investment in innovation.

OCIP is open to all Ontario businesses. It simplifies the process of setting up an R&D partnership and provides businesses with access to supporting services to turn ideas and prototypes into commercial success. The platform guides businesses through the process of creating an Innovation Challenge (project proposal); helps match them with research experts and facilities in Ontario’s colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes; and streamlines access to multiple funders and programs for non-repayable grants to support student hiring, research and project expenses. 

OCIP provides support at every stage, and offers business-friendly processes and standard agreements that work with all of Ontario’s postsecondary institutions. Standard agreements simplify IP ownership decisions, giving businesses and institutions the opportunity to keep or share the IP, where appropriate. 

Postsecondary institutions and their learners gain real-world experience

Colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes across Ontario have faculty experts, specialized equipment and students eager to gain experience in industry. OCIP is the bridge between post-secondary research capabilities and economic opportunities for Ontario businesses. Institutions earn additional revenues for their programs, labs and equipment, and can also discover a path to commercialization for their intellectual property. Learners gain valuable workplace experience while solving real-world problems.

The broader Ontario economy benefits when its companies innovate, when they bring new products and services to market, and when they develop new processes that improve their productivity. As the organisation responsible for driving digital transformation within Ontario’s postsecondary sector, eCampusOntario sees OCIP as central to its mandate of fostering innovation throughout the sector and into the broader economy.  

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