December 18, 2018
If you are following along with our Bridging the Gap series you’ve had a chance to read about the amazing technologies that our Innovation Mobilization (IM) fund supports. But there is another category of IM funding that is equally important to the commercialization process, and that is Industry Engagement (IE). Engagement with existing businesses offers researchers potential licensing partners, and new research and development collaborators. The IE funding enables researchers to get out of their labs to engage directly with industry; making the first contact that leads to fruitful long-term partnerships and new projects for the researcher.
In simplest terms, IE funding offers an avenue to help researchers market their labs, their expertise, and their ideas to industry. With that goal in mind Synapse (our commercialization partner at UPEI) applied for funding for their researchers to attend the CARIC National Forum. CARIC is the Consortium of Aerospace Research and Innovation Canada; a national organization focused on supporting the research needs of Canada’s booming aerospace and defense industry. UPEI’s unique sustainable design and engineering faculty was interested in engaging with the broader national industry and the CARIC Forum was the perfect platform for their initial foray into that space.
Originally meant as a research trip this event turned into much more than that for UPEI. It was directly from this event that Dr. Trung Ngo sparked an ongoing research partnership with A&K Robotics. Dr. Ngo and his team are now working with A&K to support their work in developing autonomous robots for airports. To date, the project has been awarded $85k in research funding 25k from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Engage program, and 60k from MITACS. The company is very committed to the project and interested in building their relationship with Dr. Ngo’s lab long term.
The Industry Engagement funds that Springboard provides are critical. Aside from NSERC there are not many other avenues that support researchers to do industry outreach and relationship building. This type of engagement is essential to the strong long-term applied research partnerships that help companies develop new products and drive their competitive advantage in the marketplace.
We are excited to see this project #springboarding forward and will track the progress of this ongoing collaboration in the years to come.