The Ontario government’s announcement of $20 million over three years to be invested in applied research at colleges demonstrates an important commitment to innovation and productivity, according to officials at Conestoga College.
“This is a significant boost to research that supports businesses in their efforts to become more innovative and competitive,” said John Tibbits, President of Conestoga. “This investment will allow colleges and businesses to work together to address more real-world challenges and opportunities to help businesses grow and create more jobs.”
The 2016 Ontario Budget announced the government will support competitiveness and job creation in key industry sectors by partnering with colleges to establish a $20-million fund to be invested over three years.
The fund will better connect colleges and Ontario companies on applied research projects that will result in breakthrough products and services for sale at home and abroad. The budget also responded to the colleges’ call for reforms that will help more students from low-income families and mature students pursue college education.
The measures include the new Ontario Student Grant program that will start in 2017-18 school year. The program will make the average college and university tuition free for students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less. Tuition will also be more affordable for middle-income and higher-income families, and students in families with annual incomes of less than $50,000 will have no provincial debt.
Other measures in the budget include more funding for aboriginal education and a commitment to consult on college funding as the college sector approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017. The new funding for applied research responds to one of the priorities in the college sector’s pre-budget submission to government.
Conestoga’s research activities include the Centre for Smart Manufacturing, a regional hub for applied research to support the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector. Seven dedicated labs hosted at the college’s Cambridge and Doon campuses support the development of new products and processes across a wide range of areas, including Advanced Sensors, Electronic Systems, Software, Light Manufacturing Production and Assembly, Prototype Production, 3D Printing, and Materials.
“Ontario’s commitment to innovation among businesses of all sizes is critical in this new economy,” Tibbits said. “We applaud the government for making this a priority in the 2016 budget.”