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Ontario urged to invest in college based applied research that fuels innovation

January 27, 2016

Sheridan is adding its voice to a call by Colleges Ontario, the provincial advocacy organization representing the province’s 24 colleges, for an increase in up-front funding for applied research projects at its member colleges.

“Ontario must strengthen its commitment to innovation,” said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario.  “Investment in applied research at colleges will develop real-world innovations for a greater number of businesses.”  The organization is requesting an investment of $30 million by the government into market-driven research to promote industry clusters throughout the province.

Sheridan has for the past 15-plus years embraced applied research as a cornerstone of its mission, both for its enrichment of the student experience and impact on community economic development.  In 2015, Sheridan was ranked first among colleges in Canada by Research Infosource Inc. for number of projects completed (225) with industry partners.

The projects in the ranking included a number of federally and/or provincially funded initiatives, as well as capstone projects completed by senior students across the college as part of the curriculum.

Sheridan’s conception of applied research has expanded in recent years to encompass scholarship and creative activities as an integrated approach that encourages creativity and innovation.  “Whether it’s developing a new computer program, improving a business process for a client, or creating an audible hockey puck for the visually impaired, our projects are rooted in teamwork, interdisciplinary thinking and creative problem solving,” said Cindy Gillett, Acting Director of Undergraduate Research.

Applied research at Sheridan is primarily undertaken at four Centres of Expertise:  The Centre for Elder Research; Screen Industries and Research Training Centre (SIRT); Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT); and Centre for Mobile Innovation (CMI).

“Increased up-front funding from government will enable Sheridan and other colleges to expand our partnerships with industry to innovate, support business growth and create new jobs,” said Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, Sheridan’s president and vice chancellor.

Examples of Sheridan Applied Research Projects:

  • A research team from FAST’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT) helped local start-up Air Xposure create a cost-effective drone for professional-grade aerial cinematography – one that could support the weight of a 15lb cinema camera and handle high winds and vibration.
  • CAMDT researchers are also working with battery recycling technology firm Raw Materials Company (RMC) to remove two major bottlenecks from RMC’s battery recycling process. The team is devising a clean and efficient method to eliminate garbage and other waste from the sorting stream of household batteries as well as determining methods that would eliminate any risk of fire or shorting of post-sorting non-alkaline batteries.
  • Cinema Suite Inc. partnered with researchers from Sheridan’s Screen Industries Research and Training Centre (SIRT) to develop a proof-of-concept that aims to demonstrate that it is possible to have two separate Microsoft Kinects working together to obtain motion capture data. This technology will enable game developers and filmmakers to add low-cost motion capture to their computer-generated characters.