Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Local Innovation; Global Impact

Today at the Collision Conference I was pleased to join David West, Mayor of Richmond Hill, Ana Serrano, President of OCAD University, and Walid Mowaswes, CEO of PharmaGuide at the launch of the City of Richmond Hill Centre for Local Innovation and Collaboration (CLIC). CLIC is an innovative approach to supporting local businesses by matching business needs with the design expertise at OCADU. eCampusOntario has been working with our member higher education institutions to support research partnerships using a model pioneered with the City of Toronto in 2020 and 2021. A key difference with CLIC is in the support of businesses through the Small Business Enterprise Centre in Richmond Hill. 

The model here is simple: figure out the innovation needs of companies through a simple diagnostic and match them to the expertise in one of Ontario's leading higher education institutions, in this case OCADU. 

Through CLIC businesses access funding opportunities, tailored solutions, and a network of businesses and organizations to support their short-term, mid-term and long-term needs.

I had a great conversation with Walid about his experience in CLIC. He made the great point that engaging students as interns was a real value add for his business, as it helped expose him to new thinking, in this case about the power and value of user experience design. And this is important - the stats are a bit old now but the Design Value Index some time ago showed that design-focused companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 228%. This is significant. 

With the proven success of the first CLIC cohort, we are ready to scale and expand this model across Ontario. We will continue to support Richmond Hill companies through CLIC to tap into the expertise of OCAD U’s students and faculty, as well as Ontario’s network of higher education institutions.

CLIC is an excellent example of how higher education institutions like OCADU can help businesses to thrive. And by giving students the opportunity to work with businesses we are future proofing Canada”s capacity for innovation. That’s worth celebrating. 

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