MIT’s Eric Grimson will join the OneNS coalition at St. FX University in Antigonish today, May 19, to share his insights into how Nova Scotia can better capitalize on research, development and innovation, and instill a spirit of entrepreneurship in young people.
MIT is renowned for its research and development leading to a large number of patents for innovative products. It has also had tremendous success fostering innovative thinking and entrepreneurship among its students and faculty.
If all active companies started, and still run by, MIT people were pulled together, it would be the 11th largest economy in the world. MIT integrates innovation and entrepreneurship with education and research. Students and faculty are adept at quickly starting companies.
“MIT actively fosters an ecosystem in which students and faculty are encouraged to couple academic research with innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities,” said Mr. Grimson. “By linking academic programs with opportunities to explore novel ideas, by building spaces in which students can create ideas and enterprises in collaboration with mentors and peers, by creating research spaces that break down traditional departmental boundaries, and by working with companies to build a broader ecosystem in which students and faculty can easily interact with industrial researchers, MIT has created a thriving environment for fundamental research and transition to practical impact.”
Mr. Grimson and the OneNS team, will be joined by Peter Nicholson, the inaugural president of the Council of Canadian Academies, Richard Isnor, acting vice-president of research at St. FX, and Wayne St. Amour, executive director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Nova Scotia Community College. They will focus on getting more out of universities and colleges — research and development, innovation labs and entrepreneurship.
In 2012, Nova Scotia universities generated $170 million in research funding. In 2011, they accounted for 74 per cent of all research and development spending in the province, compared with 38 per cent, nationally.
Private business generates more than half of this spending nationally, but only 15 per cent in Nova Scotia. For businesses to grow and become more productive and competitive, the private sector has to invest more, and make better use of post-secondary school research and development.
Bringing universities and business together in promising areas of economic growth is also important. The Ocean Innovation Centre in Dartmouth will, for example, allow researchers to work closely with industry to improve and create new products, processes and services. Accelerators and incubators, which provide the support startup businesses need to get off the ground quickly, and access to venture capital are also vital for new companies.
“Nova Scotia has the most ocean science-related companies per capita of any state or province in North America,” said Martha Crago, vice-president of research at Dalhousie University. “Some of them evolve from universities others, like Acadian Seaplants, keep expanding and exporting to new markets because they do research and development.”
The One Nova Scotia Report on Building our New Economy called for research funding in Nova Scotia to double to $360 million, the number of research and development partnerships between businesses and Nova Scotia universities and the community college to double from about 1,000 to 2,000 per year, and a 10 per cent increase in the number of working-age Nova Scotians with post-secondary certifications or completed apprenticeships.