Conestoga news

March 4, 2011 2:37 PM

Conestoga partners with local businesses for research and innovation

More local businesses will soon benefit from Conestoga’s exceptional research facilities following an Information Workshop held by Conestoga Applied Research and Innovation (CARI) on Thursday February 17.

College faculty spoke about the school’s connection with FedDev Ontario and how it could help small and medium-sized enterprises throughout southern Ontario. A recent grant to Conestoga from the project will assist the school and local businesses to take on new projects together.

Conestoga partners with local businesses for research and innovation

FedDev is a pilot initiative established to bridge the gap between research and commercialization between Ontario's post-secondary academic institutions and small- and medium-sized enterprises. FedDev Ontario will commit up to $15 million for projects in 2010 under the Initiative.

Likening the partnership to a marriage, CARI director Robert Taweel emphasized the benefits of utilizing the one-time grant to develop connections into the future.

“What we’re doing here is building a relationship,” Taweel said in his presentation.

Twenty-nine companies from fields including health, technology and business received insight on the benefits that Conestoga’s schools can offer.

“We’re here to help,” said Mitch Wawzonek, Engineering & IT and Trades & Apprenticeship chair, in his presentation alongside chair Julia Biederman.

Business and Hospitality executive dean Frank Mensink as well as Health & Life Sciences and Community Services executive dean Marlene Raasok also explained potential opportunities within their schools.

Partnerships with the college will offer businesses the opportunity to explore such areas as prototyping and simulation; testing and analysis; and business modeling and planning that may be beyond their existing capacity.

According to representative Chuck Bokor, FedDev is filling the gap in the country by initiating the program in southern Ontario, one key location where the program was missing. The FedDev head office is located in Kitchener, a rarity in federal government, where home base tends to be the nation’s capital.

Potential partners and faculty mingled at a casual reception following the presentation, an opportunity to create relationships that could ultimately lead to greater opportunity for students and businesses alike.

CARI project consultant Greg Roberston said that students would ultimately reap the benefits of more industry connections. But first, he said, it’s important to get businesses on board.

Companies have until March 31, 2011 to apply for FedDev funding with CARI. Projects must be completed in one year.

One of Canada’s premier polytechnic institutes, Conestoga College is recognized as a leader in applied education and research. A comprehensive range of programs prepares graduates for success in business, industry and the community.

Story by Lindsay Johnston, a first-year student in Conestoga’s Print Journalism program.