Industry and academia connect at OCE’s Made in Ontario Advanced Manufacturing R&D Challenge Forum

December 13, 2013

Bombardier Transportation Product Manager, Mark Willer (left), talks to Bombardier's OCE-supported collaboration with McMaster's RFID Applications Lab, during a panel discussion with Clear Blue Technologies co-founder and COO, Miriam Tuerk (centre), and ArcelorMittal Dofasco's General Manager of Metallurgy, Angela Pappin (right), at OCE's 'Made in Ontario' Advanced Manufacturing R&D Challenge Forum on December 11.  

More than 160 representatives from Ontario’s manufacturing sector and academia came together in Mississauga on December 11 to learn about an exciting $2 million R&D funding opportunity offered through Ontario’s new Collaboration Voucher Program.

The event, hosted by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Ontario (CME), and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), attracted interest from both local start-up companies and established manufacturers like ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Siemens and Bombardier Transportation.

“Today we are bringing together Ontario researchers and the manufacturing industry in hopes of creating new industry and academic partnerships – ones leading to the development and commercialization of innovative new products and processes, resulting in increasing sales to global markets,” said Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of OCE.

The forum falls under the umbrella of Ontario’s Voucher for Industry Association R&D Challenge and is the third industry association challenge voucher (VIA) awarded this year through Ontario’s Collaboration Voucher Program, run by OCE. The other two are in the aerospace and life sciences sectors.

“Ontario’s manufacturing sector has undergone major transformation over the past decade, incorporating process automation and new technologies at a rapid pace,” Tom told the forum. “This is a new and evolving manufacturing sector, one powered by innovation and disruptive technologies.”

Presenters spoke to the successes, opportunities and challenges of Ontario’s manufacturing industry and what is needed to expedite the movement of novel, high-value products to market.

Ian Howcroft, Vice President of the CME’s Ontario division, reminded the audience that Ontario’s manufacturing sector is still the key engine of the economy, generating hundreds of billions of dollars in annual output.

“We want to ensure Ontario manufacturers are aware of the enormous amount of opportunity available and can take advantage of opportunities like this one,” Ian said. 

The “Made in Ontario” Advanced Manufacturing R&D Challenge, supported by OCE, will fund five to seven qualified projects (each up to two years in length) that undertake research and development in the Ontario manufacturing sector.

Participating companies can benefit through access to new talent and reputable academic researchers, increased productivity, and the ability to solve industry challenges. Academics can conduct cutting-edge research to solve innovation challenges. Students from Ontario colleges and universities can secure new skills and ‘real-world’ experience. 

OCE will provide funding of up to $100,000 per project. To qualify, academic applicants must secure a minimum of 2:1 cash and in-kind matching from an industry partner.