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Sheridan Plays Host to Minister of State for Science and Technology and National Research Council of Canada

March 18, 2014

The Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology) -- joined by John R. McDougall, President of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Jayson Myers, President & CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters -- announced a new voucher program at Sheridan College today to connect small and medium sized enterprises with research partners to support commercialization.

Called the Business Innovation Access Program, it is a $20 million investment that will allocate up to $50,000 per project, aimed at helping SMEs to access business and technical services at colleges, universities and research centres to address and resolve barriers to the commercialization of ideas, products and services. The program will be delivered by NRC. 

Prior to the announcement, Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, President and CEO of Sheridan College provided the honoured guests with a tour of Sheridan’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT).  CAMDT is home to the most sophisticated 3D commercial printers and production system of any Canadian university or college.  The Centre was founded with a $2.5 million grant from the City of Brampton. CAMDT is also an integral partner in a consortium that has been selected by by the Networks of Centers of Excellence of Canada to go forward to a full application for 2015 to the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CERC) program. The facility has been used to create numerous advanced functional prototypes, manufacturing tools and fixtures and end use parts. 

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Photo credit - National Research Council of Canada (left to right): Farzad Rayegani, Associate Dean, Sheridan College showing a 3D-printed object to Minister of State Greg Rickford, Jeff Zabudsky, President and CEO, Sheridan College

“Innovation begins with an entrepreneur willing to take risks associated with bringing a new idea to the market,” said Minister Rickford.  “Many lack the time, resources, or expertise to conduct the research and development needed to innovate and move forward.”  He noted that this new program was designed to assist the process of innovation and commercialization by connecting entrepreneurs to research experts, who he characterized as problem-solvers. 

"Our government is positioning small and medium-sized businesses to compete and win in global markets,” said Minister Rickford. “The Business Innovation Access Program will provide SMEs with the opportunity to acquire business or technical services from universities, colleges or other research institutions. As a result, ideas, products and services will move from SMEs to the marketplace faster, creating jobs, growth and opportunities for Canadians."

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Photo credit - National Research Council of Canada: The Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State 

From Sheridan’s perspective, the new program was very positively received. “Partnerships like this one bring together the people, ideas, equipment, and facilities that help small and medium sized businesses to advance their products and processes. By involving students, we also ensure that they will become conduits that will transfer invaluable knowledge and experience to industry and society upon graduation,” said Sheridan’s President and CEO Dr. Jeff Zabudsky. 

In 2012-13, Sheridan received over $5 million from the federal, provincial and private sector for 85 applied research projects benefitting over 70 organizations.

As a graduate of both college and university himself, Minister Rickford suggested that “Colleges are a perfect place to roll out this type of program . . . these types of hands-on learning opportunities for students are irreplaceable”  He also noted that CAMDT was one of the inspirations the federal government had for creating this kind of a program.

Also on hand for the announcement were: Tom Jenkins, Chairman of Open Text Corporation and the Chair of the Research and Development Review Expert Panel that recommended the creation of this voucher program; Denise Amyot, President and CEO of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC); and dozens of CEOs and senior leaders of GTA-based small and medium enterprises.

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Photo credit - National Research Council of Canada (left to right): Tom Jenkins, NRC Board Director, Chair of OpenText Corporation, Jeff Zabudsky, President and CEO, Sheridan College, Kyle Seeback, MP for Brampton West, Jayson Myers, President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters,The Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science & Technology), Denise Amyot, President and CEO, ACCC, John R. McDougall, President, National Research Council of Canada

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