By Jim Hynes
Sitcoms from the 1970s notwithstanding, the expression “two is company” is normally followed by “three’s a crowd.” But the people in McGill’s Office of the Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) want to change that, at least when it comes to forming new research partnerships. Together with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and their colleagues in McGill’s Office of Sponsored Research, they recently hosted the first McGill-NSERC Industrial Matchmaking Session to help researchers connect with potential industry partners.
As the federal government continues to focus on technology and innovation, creating programs and allocating funds to encourage research and development in these areas, Canada’s granting agencies and university research administrators want to help initiate collaborative research projects between researchers and industry to take advantage of them.
On Wednesday, May 30, approximately 50 researchers from universities across Quebec, representatives from companies like Pratt & Whitney and Novo Électronique, and officials from several agencies that focus on industry-university collaborations gathered at McGill’s Faculty Club to discuss sponsored research opportunities, particularly in the areas of advanced materials and nanotechnology; materials engineering; medical devices; and mining and metallurgy.
“Many small and medium-sized businesses are not aware of the Engage Grant or other NSERC opportunities that can significantly extend their research resources,” said Janet Walden, NSERC’s Vice President of Research Partnerships. “The goal is to realize more value for business from the federal government’s investment in our university and college R&D capabilities by building stronger linkages between these sectors. These linkages benefit both the business and the post-secondary sectors – it’s a win-win.”
The event’s morning session featured a presentation by Photonic Knowledge, a Quebec-based firm delivering mapping services to the mining industry, as well as a series of roundtable meetings between granting agencies and government and industry partners.
The afternoon session, with Hélène Fortier, Research Partnerships Promotion Officer for NSERC’s Quebec Regional Office, playing the head matchmaker role, featured “speed networking” sessions in the form of organized, 20-minute meetings between researchers and businesses on specified research themes.
“Our researchers are great innovators, and every day they push the limits of knowledge and technology,” said Dr. Rosie Goldstein, McGill Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations), who delivered the opening remarks at the event. “At the same time, many of them chose to work in science and engineering in order to develop new technologies that will have a real-world impact. Events like this help our researchers refocus their approach, connecting them with companies that have immediate R&D needs as well as funding agencies and other partners who can help make advancements happen.”