Bridging the Innovation Gap: Reflecting on UNB’s Innovation Map
It’s no secret that innovation is a key factor in economic growth, especially in a province like New Brunswick, which has already demonstrated the value of bringing innovation into sectors like smart-grid and cybersecurity.
But understanding who drives the research and development (R&D) efforts of the province was not entirely known - until now.
In November, the folks over at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) took on this initiative and, through the Global Advantage Consulting Group, released a report that maps out New Brunswick’s innovation ecosystem.
The goal of the map was to identify the key drivers of New Brunswick’s innovation economy and how it stacks up to the rest of the country.
The details of the map, which were revealed at an event and panel discussion at Planet Hatch, shows where R&D is taking place in the province and gives recommendations on how the community can collaborate more efficiently and effectively, using the resources available.
“There is a significant innovation gap our province is experiencing,” said Dr. David MaGee, UNB’s Vice President of Research, in a statement from the university. “The percentage of government and private R&D investments is remarkably lower here when compared to the rest of Canada.”
According to the map, $354 million of R&D was performed in New Brunswick in 2016. This is about 1% of the $34.5 billion spent on R&D in Canada.
The map also shows that New Brunswick’s share in the Canadian economy is declining, with the province’s share of Canada’s real GDP decreasing by about $1 billion from 2013 to 2017.
Though these figures may seem disheartening, UNB’s attitudes towards the map’s findings are nothing short of optimistic. By mapping out who and where the drivers of innovation are in the province, academic institutions, such as UNB, are more informed and better prepared to tackle this innovation gap.
The report shows that higher education performs 53% of all R&D in New Brunswick. Recommendations call for an increase of investment for higher education research and innovation and suggests more collaboration between the Province’s post-secondary institutions and industry.
Enter Springboard Atlantic.
Springboard Atlantic works with our members at UNB’s Office of Research Services to support them in making new R&D deals, partnerships and industry connections.
“Springboard is the conduit of integration between academic and the private sector; therefore, their role is integral in helping us address the innovation gap,” said MaGee in an email.
“Springboard serves as the entry point for researchers or innovators who are new to the region and need to find a research network. To improve, we need to continue to build the connections we have and look for opportunities to collaborate and work together to be a voice for Atlantic Canada on a national stage.”
There will be a greater emphasis placed on industry engagement and collaboration as Springboard moves ahead into its next phase this Spring. The results of UNB’s innovation asset map lets, not only the New Brunswick ecosystem, but also pan-Atlantic organizations such as Springboard, clearly see where and how we can better support the R&D capabilities of the province.
Said Dr. MaGee: “Springboard is the thread that connects us and gives us capacity that individually we would not be able to deliver on our own […] They’re integral in advancing our applied research.”