Innovation and BC’s 2020 Economy. A great topic and well-covered by the third session — a panel discussion entitled: Tomorrow’s Technology Today: Innovation and BC’s 2020 Economy.
The final panel of the summit was well moderated by a pro — Dr. David Turpin, President of the University of Victoria. Dr. Turpin started off the session with a succinct summary of the report that he and some colleagues authored for the BCBC on Universities and the Knowledge Economy (http://www.bcbc.com/Documents/2020_200909_Turpin.pdf) which emphasizes the important role that graduate students can play in the research team –especially their role in knowledge transfer.
Which led into comments from the founder of MITACS (Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems) Arvind Gupta — Dr. Math (those of you who read the Vancouver Sun will remember the great series on the importance of math — and Arvind’s approach to helping parents (and students) learn to love math). But Arvind was on the panel to talk about what it takes to build a knowledge economy — basically knowledge workers. And what we need to do to make BC attractive to the best possible students from around the globe.
MITACS operates a kind of “dating service” between research programs/students and industry. It matches up graduate student expertise with identified problems from industry. Money is matched and the outcome is often a job in the end for the student. The Provincial government put in $10million into the internship program several years ago (Accelerate BC) and the program needs another infusion soon to keep these matches going.
Dr. Michael Gallagher, President and CEO of Westport Innovations Inc., talked about the vision of Westport to promote natural gas as an alternative fuel to oil. Westport is one of BC’s poster companies for global success in terms of rate of growth and potential in the clean-tech landscape. Michael emphasized three themes — the importance of commercialization of research results, the challenges that face companies as they grow such as intellectual property issues and finding skilled employees, and the importance of partnerships with other businesses (like Terasen (natural gas) and Cummins (engines).
The last panelist was Jayson Myers, President and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. Jayson talked about the importance of the commercialization process — how do we generate something of economic value? He talked about new solutions, new products, re-engineering existing businesses and differentiating our various products and services. He also called for leadership from both business and government to tackle these challenges.
So now a plug for Chapter Three: Positioning for Prosperity: Commercial and Industrial Opportunities for a New BC Economy. Tuesday October 20 7:30am-12:15pm. That is one busy week in Vancouver — Outlook 2020, the Gaining Ground conference, and various other activities!