Conestoga news

January 25, 2024 9:29 AM

Conestoga's new social innovation lab provides comprehensive support for research

Conestoga has launched a new initiative that will facilitate and support research into key issues facing communities today. Based in the college’s Applied Research Hub in Cambridge, Ontario, the Conestoga Social Innovation Lab (CSIL) provides assistance and insights for those who are positioned to drive solutions such as cooperatives, nonprofits, social enterprises and various changemakers.

CSIL believes in a growth mindset approach when providing research support, which involves building an environment that is conducive for success and a team that is supported through the process.

The lab draws upon the expertise of Conestoga faculty and staff to provide support in areas including background research, placemaking, opinion research, problem solving, and knowledge transfer. CSIL also offers consulting on the efficiency and effectiveness of board and organizational structures.

“CSIL is using a broad definition of social innovation as essentially, we are looking to support applied research that has a positive impact on our communities,” said Dr. Anthony Piscitelli, who will serve as the inaugural director of CSIL while on secondment from his role as a professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. “My role at CSIL is to provide support to the talented faculty and staff researchers at the college so they can focus on working to aid our community partners as they create positive social change.”

Piscitelli’s previous partnerships include work with the Beasley Neighbourhood Association in Hamilton, Ontario, where he helped to survey residents and gain insights into their concerns which informed grassroots activities and lobbying of municipal government. Piscitelli also researched the barriers faced by those looking to enter into first-time home ownership, and presented findings to industry partners to help them better understand how to meet client needs in a challenging real estate market.

“Conestoga has been partnering with nonprofits, cooperatives, social enterprises, and other changemakers for quite some time. CSIL is a continuation of this work, providing a formal structure to expand our community-based applied research partnerships.” said Michelle Chretien, associate vice-president, Research and Innovation.

Chretien added that CSIL is another initiative of Conestoga in positioning itself as a leading Canadian research institution. Conestoga ranked 17 among Canada’s Top 50 research colleges in 2023.

Conestoga’s Office of Research Services is the central hub for research partnerships among industry and community partners, faculty and students. The office offers comprehensive support throughout the entire research project lifecycle to ensure successful project outcomes by bringing together multidisciplinary expertise, state-of-the-art resources, and collaboration to tackle real-world challenges and address the needs of industry.