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Clear signals

Collaborative forum to help connect provincial innovation ecosystem

By Rebecca Cohoe and Jeff Green

A Memorial initiative aims to bring together Newfoundland and Labrador’s thriving innovation ecosystem to build on recent successes and to set a solid foundation for the future of innovation in the province.

The Signal Initiative co-ordinates a group of members of the provincial innovation ecosystem and Memorial for discussion and collaboration, all with the goal of supporting and strengthening innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It’s the next step in Memorial University’s internationally recognized work in innovation and entrepreneurship.

From the Ocean Frontier Institute to the university’s pivotal role in the launch of the Ocean Supercluster in Atlantic Canada to the launch of the Emera Innovation Exchange on the new Signal Hill Campus, Memorial is embracing its special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, providing a unique forum for key players to communicate and work together.

Led by Memorial’s Office of Public Engagement and Office of the Vice-President (Research), and co-chaired by Dr. Rob Greenwood, associate vice-president (public engagement and external relations), and Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), the Signal Initiative will provide mutual benefits to both Memorial and the larger innovation community.

Identify gaps, seize opportunities

Members, including representatives from governments, industry and academia, will share insight and advice on how to maximize Memorial’s innovation-related programming and investments for the benefit of both students and the companies that will eventually hire and/or collaborate with them.

“The Signal Initiative is the type of post-secondary, government and community collaboration needed to foster increased innovation across all sectors.” — Norm Dimmell

The initiative will support dialogue between Memorial and other actors in the innovation ecosystem, sharing information and collaborating to identify gaps and seize opportunities.

Meeting N.L.’s needs

As the only university in Canada with a Senate-approved Public Engagement Framework, Memorial views partnerships with industry, community and governments as central to advancing teaching and learning, research and creative activity.

One of the framework’s objectives (1.4) calls for the university to “Mobilize knowledge, expertise and resources in support of innovation and economic diversification.”

“The story of innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador is closely tied to innovation at Memorial University,” said Dr. Greenwood. “Collaboration between the two is not a new idea; however, the Signal Initiative will provide a more systematic, forward-looking mechanism for collaboration.”

Dr. Bose says Memorial is committed to fostering innovation across the disciplines and supporting the next generation of business leaders.

As one of Canada’s top 20 research universities, coupled with our recent record high growth in total research funding, Memorial is cultivating a vibrant ecosystem and supporting our leading-edge creators and discoverers,” he said. “Memorial is proud to play a key role in the future of innovation in this province. Our research and expertise are contributing daily to the creation of a more diverse, sustainable economy and society.”

Dr. Paula Mendonça, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Memorial, is facilitating and supporting the university’s initiatives to strengthen its entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. She says those efforts complement the Signal Initiative.

“Opportunities such as these provide a significant way to engage with our communities, industry, and government and align Memorial with the economic and social needs of the province.”

Partnering for success

“The Signal Initiative is the type of post-secondary, government and community collaboration needed to foster increased innovation across all sectors,” said Norm Dimmell, president, N.L., Emera, after the initiative’s first meeting this week.

“We are pleased to be part of this conversation, both as participants and through Emera’s 2018 contribution of $7 million in support of student programming in innovation and entrepreneurship at Memorial University.”

Signal Initiative membership

Rob Greenwood, associate vice-president, public engagement and external relations, Office of Public Engagement, Memorial University; Neil Bose, vice-president (research), Memorial University; Norm Dimmell, president, N.L., Emera; Ashley Noseworthy, president/CEO, Edgewise Environmental Ltd. (representing N.L. Environment Industry Association); Ellissa Hull, vice-president, finance, Verafin (representing TechNL); Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Ocean Supercluster; Karen Skinner, vice-president, ACOA, N.L.; Ted Lomond, deputy minister, Industry, Energy and Technology, Government of N.L.; Mark Dobbin, president, Killick Capital Inc. (representing N.L. Innovation and Business Investment Corporation); Allan Cramm, vice-president, innovation, Novamera Inc.; Joe Teo, CEO, HeyOrca (representing a Genesis graduate firm); Roshayne Mendis, graduate student, Grenfell Campus; Mike Long, associate vice-president, applied research and innovation, College of the North Atlantic; Dave Murrin, director general, ocean, coastal and river engineering, National Research Council; Kim Crosbie, manager, operations and strategic projects, Harris Centre; and Paula Mendonça, director, innovation and entrepreneurship, Office of the Vice-President (Research).

To learn more about Innovation Memorial, please visit the website and follow @InnovationMUN on Twitter and the #InnovationMemorial hashtag.

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