Monday, November 9, 2020

Connecting Partners for COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Today marked the announcement of a new research partnership model developed in partnership with the City of Toronto, the 8 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Greater Toronto Area, eCampus Ontario, along with our research funding partners Mitacs, OCE, NSERC, NRC-IRAP and Magnet. The announcement was conducted by Mayor John Tory, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Research and Innovation Ali Ehsassi, and Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano. 

When COVID-19 struck the City of Toronto and the eight Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Toronto started working together to support Toronto rebuild and recovery efforts. This includes mobilizing the capacity of the faculty and students at GTA HEIs to support capacity development for the City of Toronto and GTA businesses. The City of Toronto Mayor’s Task Force for Economic Support & Recovery — HEIs, led by Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, convened the Academic Institutions Task Force. One key remit of this Task Force was to develop partnerships between HEIs and the City of Toronto to support local businesses and organizations. In order to meet this objective, the partnership model was put forward as a solution to rapidly connect the expertise in the HEIs to City of Toronto COVID-19 research needs.

Under the direction of Manjit Jheeta, Director, Toronto Office of Partnerships, the eight GTA HEIs established the Toronto Collaboration Platform (TOCP) to support City of Toronto recovery and rebuild efforts, leveraging the design work conducted to date. The Collaborative helped to source faculty and student experts from across the eight HEIs to support City of Toronto staff in addressing important and urgent project needs.

An important facet of this partnership is that students are participating in all aspects of projects, from conducting the R&D activities under the supervision of our expert faculty, to project management, teamwork and communications. Students are paid as research assistants, and also receive a micro-credential as part of their participation.

It was a natural fit for eCampusOntario to help coordinate this important technology-enabled effort between three levels of government and Toronto’s colleges and universities. We are connecting our city’s best expertise to help mitigate the impact of COVID 19 on its citizens.

eCampusOntario not only helps bring together partnerships like these, but also designs and manages the technology that connects our brightest higher education researchers with our municipal leaders.

As the convenor for Ontario post-secondary education, eCampusOntario helps connect and support this kind of research and experiential learning that is essential to help in our province’s pandemic recovery.

Together we can build effective solutions for our current challenges that will help create jobs and keep people safe.

Read more about these projects on the City of Toronto website.

More information on the innovative Toronto Collaboration Platform is at this website.

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