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Plans and solutions

Industry Engagement Day to help transform N.L. into innovation hub

By Jackey Locke

Engaging industry representatives and university researchers to exchange ideas to help solve some of industry’s most challenging problems.

People sitting at tables in a large conference room.
Delegates at Industry Engagement Day at Signal Hill Campus recently.
Photo: Jackey Locke

That was the focus of an event hosted by Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at the Emera Innovation Exchange, Signal Hill Campus, recently.

The Industry Engagement Day facilitated discussions and fostered partnerships on innovation and technology development to help transform Newfoundland and Labrador into an innovation hub.

A white woman with short light hair smiles at the camera. The background is blurred out.
Dr. Octavia Dobre
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

More than 120 delegates representing more than 30 companies and organizations attended, which included representatives from the technical industry, the federal and provincial governments and Memorial University.

Sessions held throughout the day encouraged attendees to engage with each other and focus on problem-solving.

“The day was a huge success with industry representatives and university researchers showcasing their development and research, initiating discussions around current issues and committing to future collaborations to develop plans and solutions,” said Dr. Octavia Dobre, interim dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.


Dr. Dobre and Dr. Tana Allen, acting associate vice-president (research), gave opening remarks.

A white woman with blonde hair smiles at the camera. Book shelves are behind her.
Dr. Tana Allen
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“When Memorial supports entrepreneurs, strategic thinkers, creators and future business leaders, we are ensuring our innovation ecosystem continues to flourish for years to come,” said Dr. Allen. “Thank you to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science for hosting such an important event for your faculty, the university, the province and beyond.”

Plenary speakers also provided inspiring talks.

Andrew Parsons, minister, Industry, Energy and Technology, spoke about the priorities of the provincial government and available resources for industry.

Minister Parsons said that the Newfoundland and Labrador government is interested in understanding the goals and issues of academia and industry. He also said that communication is key to enforcing positive change.

Dr. John Hepburn, CEO, Mitacs, shared that, to date, Mitacs has offered more than 20,000 internships and has numerous collaborations with Memorial. He also said that Mitacs wants to help drive innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador by helping to solve industry problems and that industry-university collaborations are “critical” for that to happen.

Benjamin Boehm, senior vice-president, PAL Aerospace, spoke about the company’s current and future R&D plans and how they are inspiring partnerships and technological advancements.

“We look forward to growing our relationship with industry to raise the province’s international profile as a true innovation hub.” — Dr. Octavia Dobre

Mr. Boehm also said that his company is interested in further collaboration with Memorial. He talked about opportunities for Memorial engineering students that could lead to work term and post-graduation opportunities, to ultimately help with some knowledge gaps in the field of aerospace engineering.

The final speaker of the day, James Bond, director, Polar Research and Government Business Development, American Bureau of Shipping, highlighted the success of the Harsh Environment Technology Centre partnership and shared news regarding other developing partnerships and collaborations with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, which include scholarships and work-term opportunities for Memorial engineering students.

“Thank you to everyone who supported and participated in the first annual Industry Engagement Day,” said Dr. Dobre. “It was an exciting day to learn about the positive impacts happening between the university and our partners. We look forward to growing our relationship with industry to raise the province’s international profile as a true innovation hub.”

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