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Building Canada’s Strengths: Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Canada's productivity depends on greater adoption of ICTs

 This story is taken from the NCE anniversary report "Building on 25 Years of R&D Excellence."

ICT has grown faster than the overall Canadian economy over the past five years, created 32,000 jobs between 2011 and 2012, and performed 33% of all private sector research and development in 2012. Yet to remain competitive, Canada needs to connect innovative firms to sales opportunities globally, promote linkages between firms to advance business-to-business market opportunities, and leverage government investments to benefit hundreds of small and medium sized firms.

Building blocks

ICT is one of Canada’s most innovative sectors, and a priority area for the federal government and for NCE programs. In 2009, the NCE funded the Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND) Network, which supports a broad range of multidisciplinary digital media research and innovation spanning 27 universities. GRAND addresses complex issues in digital media and transforms multidisciplinary research into user-centred solutions.

Also launched in 2009, the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) connects Canadian technology companies to a national network of 28 digital media acceleration hubs. It produces Canada’s biggest digital media forum (Canada 3.0), strengthens regional ecosystems and solidifies Canada’s position in the global digital media ecosystem.

Wavefront received CECR funding in 2011 to provide small- and medium-sized wireless companies with access to commercialization resources and market linkages normally beyond their reach. It also connects academic researchers with commercially viable innovations to suitable industry partners. This approach to commercialization strengthens domestic collaboration, grows companies and creates jobs.

Taking collaboration to the next level

Shared expertise and collaborative governance

  • The leaders of Wavefront, GRAND and CDMN collaborate on an operational level by serving on each other’s boards of directors and contributing their strategic advice.
  • Key partners, such as the Chairman of OpenText Corporation and Chief Technology Officer of Christie Digital Systems Canada Inc., sit on both the GRAND and CDMN boards, as do the President of OCAD University and Vice-President Research of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Accelerating commercialization

  • CDMN and Wavefront participate in GRAND’s ongoing industry workshop series, which connects entrepreneurs to university researchers involved in a broad spectrum of digital media application areas. Similarly, GRAND researchers have a wealth of opportunities to take part in networking and discussion forums at these commercialization centres.

Knowledge translation and networking opportunities

  • GRAND and CDMN hosted a Brazilian delegation at the 2012 Canada 3.0 conference that led to the creation of the Brazil-Canada 3.0 conference, held in 2012 and again in 2013. This is Canada’s main international summit devoted to boosting ICT cooperation with Brazil.
  • In 2013, Wavefront hosted 34 technical and business training events in five provinces, attracting 1,865 attendees. Hands-on training was delivered in person by industry experts as well as academic organizations such as GRAND and Mitacs.
  • CDMN and GRAND are supporting partners of the Wavefront Wireless Summits, which have become the marquee machine-to-machine conference in North America.
  • The inaugural Gamification conference in 2013 hosted by University of Waterloo Stratford Campus was co-sponsored by GRAND and CDMN, and attracted industry and academic professionals interested in human motivation and the power of “gameful” design and digital games.

Wavefront works with its accelerator and association partners across the country to identify and select export ready ICT companies that qualify for Wavefront’s market linkages program, which accelerates their entry into global markets.

– James Maynard, President and CEO, Wavefront

Co-locating our conferences provided a wonderful opportunity for students to talk with potential commercializers of their work, and for faculty members to get ideas from industry about how to focus their research on finding solutions for Canadian organizations engaged in the digital media sector.

– Kellogg Booth, Scientific Director, GRAND

It’s the future employees and prospective employers who really benefit from these collaborations. Companies need skilled individuals who have a creative arts education, along with computer science, business and marketing expertise. That’s a dynamite combination that companies like ours can really benefit from.

– Tom Jenkins, Chair, CDMN Advisory Board; Executive
Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, Open Text Corp.