Researchers at CCRI discuss university and industry collaborations at the “Working with Industry” workshop held Feb 24, 2012


Regular communications stood out as being key to effective collaborations between industry and academia at the workshop at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Catalysis Research and Innovation (CCRI) on February 24th. The event featured speakers who approach industry-university partnerships from different perspectives, but who were quite aligned in their message to researchers on how to develop successful research collaborations.   The workshop entitled “Working with Industry” featured the following presentations:

  • Landscape of Business – University Partnerships (Dr. Howard Alper, CCRI uOttawa & STIC),
  • The Xerox Research Centre of Canada: An Overview (Jordan Wosnick – Xerox Research Centre of Canada),
  • Relationship Management (Dr. Adi Treasurywala, ArrowCan Partners),
  • Making it Easy to Do Business with Business (Lynn Léger, GreenCentre Canada),
  • Technology & Research Partnerships: The uOttawa Experience (Mark Pearson, uOttawa TTBE, OTTN)  

Dr. Howard Alper, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Chemistry, and the Chair of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) Canada gave the opening address by providing an overview of the business – university partnerships landscape. He highlighted the diverse reasons why industry collaborates with universities, which includes access to expertise (including talented future employees), complementing in house research and development, access to technology and infrastructure, and connection to cutting edge research that may impact the company in the future.

Universities also benefit in many ways from the research collaborations with industry by enabling the research to become more relevant to society and enhancing training to students. Partnerships are essential to bridging the divide between academia and industry, enabling awareness of university research within industry, and resulting in practices and products that more directly affects society.  

Mark Pearson (uOttawa Technology Transfer Business Enterprise Office and OTTN) highlighted recent research and technology partnerships at CCRI including a three year collaboration (NSERC CRD) with an Ontario company to study applications for their novel chemicals, to a six month research collaboration with a local firm (Fed Dev Ontario) seeking to add compounds to their product to address new market opportunities.   The recent renewal of the NSERC CRD for an additional three years demonstrates a mutually beneficial partnership with successful outcomes for the company, the researcher and the granting agency.

OTTN and TTBE are committed to helping researchers and industry connect and develop partnerships; to facilitate new collaborations and to identify opportunities for researchers and businesses to work together.

Start-up Garage Participants learn how to employ human resources in an early stage company

Start-up Garage participants learn the basics of employment law

A successful business relies on the dedication and hard work of the team behind it. Developing the team, and keeping it engaged, while protecting the results of the team is essential. In our fifth Start-up Garage learning session, students vying for one of eight positions in the 2012 Start-up Garage received valuable advice from Melanie Polowin, a partner at Gowlings, one of Canada’s top law firms.

Melanie has plenty of experience advising Start-up Companies and the investors that fund them. She led our student entrepreneurs directly to the two most important employment issues facing their ventures:

  1. Protecting Intellectual property by making sure the company owns it.
  2. Protecting scarce resources by ensuring a start up can make changes to the team when required to keep the venture growing through challenging times.

 This means having appropriate agreements, and following proper process in getting those agreements signed with everyone that touches the business, including founders, unpaid workers and volunteers, independent contractors, and  employees. Agreements that are drafted, and signed in a manner that is consistent with the laws where the company and its employees work are essential. These are normally not agreements downloaded from the internet.

If all this sounds like too much expense, and too much trouble for your small start-up, then Melanie provided practical advice for our entrepreneurs. This included finding a firm that deals with Start-up companies in your region that may provide you with templates, and instructions on how to use them for a nominal cost. Start-up Garage offers an environment for companies with similar needs to pool resources for a variety of products and services to help the ventures grow.   

Student entrepreneurs get advice from industry experts at Start-up Garage

The participants of last night’s event now have the opportunity to take this new insight into their Start-up Garage applications and demonstrate to our review panel that they have thought about their team, and how they will engage it in their businesses through the summer of 2012. Applications are due February 22, 2012, and results will be available in March.