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May 2015 Month Theme: Getting the Most from our Universities and Community Colleges

Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship

Coalition Meeting Presentations and Other info

Universities and the Nova Scotia Community College represent one of Nova Scotia’s greatest comparative advantages. They are major employers in their communities, they generate the lion’s share of research and development activity in the province, and they increasingly function as an export sector drawing growing numbers of out-of-province and international students to our province.

Clearly, Nova Scotia gains a great deal from its universities and community colleges – but are there ways to benefit even more?

That’s the question the OneNS Coalition is working on this month: how can we get even more out of our universities and community colleges through research & development, innovation labs, and by instilling a spirit of entrepreneurship in our young people?

According to the OECD, innovative activity is the main driver of economic progress. Research and development fuel innovation. Add in people with the right skills and mindset to run with new ideas, and provide them with the support they need to ‘hatch’ new companies and grow existing ones, and all the factors of a winning combination are in place.

Post-secondary schools like Waterloo and MIT have proven that universities and community colleges can be central drivers of ‘innovation ecosystems’. An innovation ecosystem as described by Masstech is an interconnected group of many participants and resources that contribute to, and are necessary for, ongoing innovation in a modern economy. This includes entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, university faculty, venture capitalists as well as businesses.

Bringing together universities and business in ‘innovation ecosystems’ or ‘clusters’ around promising areas of economic growth is critical for success. The Ocean Innovation Centre in Dartmouth will, for example, allow researchers to work closely with industry to improve and create new products, processes and services.

One of the great things that many people do not know about Nova Scotia is that it has the most ocean science related companies per capita of any state or province in North America,” said Martha Crago, Vice President of Research at Dalhousie University. “Some of them grew out of the university. Others like Acadian Seaplants keep expanding and exporting to new markets because they do research and development.

Also important is increasing the amount of research and development conducted in Nova Scotia and then turning it into new products, processes and services.

In 2012, Nova Scotia universities generated $170 million in research funding. In 2011, they accounted for 74% of all R&D expenditures versus 38% for Canada. Private business generates more than half of this spending in Canada, but accounts for only 15% in our province. If Nova Scotia businesses are to grow and become more productive and competitive, more private sector investment in, and use of R&D from our post-secondary schools, is needed.

Accelerators and incubators – which provide the support startup businesses need to quickly get off the ground – and access to venture capital are also necessary to ‘hatch’ new companies.

More collaboration and partnerships among institutions and with the business sector and governments could have a real, practical and positive impact on Nova Scotia’s economy and on job creation. Think about the creation of the personal computer, smartphones, led light bulbs, 3D printing – and the opportunities and jobs created. And about some of the innovations right here is Nova Scotia. The hugely popular Honey Crisp apple. Acadian Seaplants products is now a “globally recognized industry leader in the processing of seaweed-based products for food, biochemical, agricultural and agri-chemical markets worldwide and in the cultivation and processing of unique seaweeds for Asian as well as global food markets.” The Brain Repair Centre has pioneered world-leading innovations that “prevent, repair and even reverse damage to cells and synaptic connections in the brain and spinal cord.” The official mobile game series Sons of Anarchy is being developed by homegrown studio Orpheus Interactive. All these innovations, made possible by research, grew economies and created jobs.

The One Nova Scotia Report on Building our New Economy calls for research funding in Nova Scotia to double to $360 million; the number of research and development partnerships between business enterprises and Nova Scotia universities and the Community College to double from an average of 1,000 per year to 2,000 per year; and a 10 percent increase in the number of working age Nova Scotians with a post-secondary certificate, diploma, degree, or completed apprenticeship.

MIT Shares Insights to Grow Nova Scotia Economy

Birthplace of biotech: Successful tech and biotech companies founded by MIT entrepreneurs thrive in adjacent Kendall Square, where innovation and intellectual capital abound. Read more…

How to build a biotech renaissance: MIT in Kendall Square. Read more…

From biotech to high-tech: Newer Kendall Square firms attribute their success to innovative ideas — and to location, location, location. Read more…

ACADIA: Tuscany, Move Over

Twenty years ago, the idea that you could produce award-winning wines in Atlantic Canada would have been laughed out of a sommelier’s cellar.

Today, the Nova Scotia wine industry boasts more than a dozen vineyards, a handful of award-winning wines, and its own appellation – Tidal Bay.

Part of this success stems from work done by Acadia’s Atlantic Wine Institute, which has helped grape growers identify suitable micro-climates and wine producers develop markets.

This partnership includes several Maritime universities, community colleges and the local wine industry.

Even Lonely Planet, the travel guide publisher, has recommended the organic white wines of the Annapolis Valley, and at least one economic development guru has compared the region to Tuscany.

Let’s raise a glass to that.

Saint Mary’s University

Saint Mary’s University Research and Commercialization section focusses almost exclusively on commercialization or research.

With a PCT and worldwide patent pending) in hand, Dr. Kevin Vessey has formulated for an inoculant to help make sugar beet a commercially viable source of bioethanol production. It is being field testing in PEI and Nova Scotia.

Dr. Andy Harvey (Economics, retired) was behind the Halifax Space-Time Activity Research Project (STAR) which used GPS technology to track daily travel data from more than 2,000 households across Halifax Regional Municipality. A license agreement with a local IT solutions provider with national and international connections enabled commercialization of the software developed by the project. The suite of software products is now being marketed in the courier, freight, field service and public transit sectors.

Universities and Community Colleges are Taking Ivany Action

Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP) five point plan: Like the Nova Scotia Government, (CONSUP) looks at its external affairs through “the lens of the One Nova Scotia Report”…

Cape Breton University

Rural-Urban Immigration Pilot:

Expansion of Aboriginal Business Education footprint in Nova Scotia:

Island Sandbox:


Future expansion of Tourism Management and Hospitality and MBA programs into Events Management: