Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Voters must consider which candidates can advance our collective goals

Article Date: October 23, 2010

By STEVEN N. LISS

As a newcomer to Kingston and Queen's University, the start of the school year and the enthusiastic dynamism associated with the arrival of new and returning students from around the world remind me what we value in our institutions and how they contribute to the life of our community. Kingston is home to three distinctive and widely recognized post-secondary institutions; we have every reason to be proud and should consider ourselves fortunate.
The city and surrounding region is also home to remarkably talented people who contribute to the success of Queen's, RMC and St. Lawrence College. There are some who work behind the scenes, and others who bring their energy, enthusiasm and particular expertise to lecture halls, laboratories, studios and seminars in the education and training of outstanding students. They are your, and my, neighbours, friends, acquaintances, and your children's friend's parents.

Many of these individuals contribute to the cultural landscape, locally, provincially, nationally and globally, through their artistic, scholarly and creative endeavours. Others are at the frontiers of knowledge and scholarship, making advances in the natural and physical sciences, engineering, medicine, social sciences and humanities. They enjoy worldwide recognition for their accomplishments and standing in their disciplines, fields and areas of professional practice. Increasingly, their research finds a path to innovation, leading to advances that improve our lives, address important environmental challenges, and foster the development of new business enterprises and economic prosperity. Their collective efforts enrich our community and connect Kingston globally.

Richard Florida, head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, has written widely on the creative class and urban renewal. He and his colleagues, in a study reported recently in Canadian Geographer, suggest that Canadian universities, while contributing to talent, could be better connected to technology development and regional income. Many research-intensive universities largely export the research and education they foster to the most commercially active Canadian regions. This has seemed to be the challenge for the Kingston area. After all, the combination of the brightest students, exceptional faculty and staff and an idyllic smaller city setting positions Queen's and Kingston as the perfect learning environment. But can we be leaders in cultivating a vibrant innovation landscape that encourages people to stay?

Some may suggest that emphasizing innovation and commercialization would move Queen's away from its traditional core mission of educating and training students. But we are already a medical-doctoral research-intensive university with an enviable international reputation. Queen's is top ranked, both provincially and nationally, for the research intensity of our faculty members and graduate students. Furthermore, the level of government investment in research infrastructure at Queen's is amongst the highest in Canada. A strong commitment to graduate-level education is also a defining feature of Queen's.

Queen's ranks second in the province in the level of graduate students as a percentage of the total enrolment. I would argue that the expectations and values associated with Queen's excellence and quality apply equally to the scholarly and creative endeavours of our researchers, to teaching and to our learning environment.

This profile no doubt presents unique opportunities to inform innovative programmatic developments in curriculum, experiential and service learning opportunities to all students.

The university is committed to furthering our contributions to society with an emphasis on both the frontiers of knowledge and inquiry and on advancing innovation. This is important to Eastern Ontario, Ontario and Canada, but also has a global scope and impact.

Through PARTEQ Innovations, Queen's is a leader in transferring discoveries from labs and classrooms into products, services and processes used daily in industry and commerce around the world. This tradition of innovation continues with the arrival of GreenCentre Canada (GCC) in Kingston. In addition, Innovation Park at Queen's University provides a physical hub for dynamic interfaces between the university, industry partners and all levels of government.

Queen's, working with the Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) and other partners, including Novelis Global Technology Centre, is developing an important footprint within the city that enhances and facilitates relationships and business development opportunities. Moreover, Innovation Park is an important anchor for the revitalization of upper Princess Street, promising more positive economic impact for the city and region.

As the municipal election approaches, we have the opportunity as voters to consider our aspirations for Kingston and who best can advance them. Reaching our collective goals will require partnerships across the entire Kingston community that includes our institutions, business leaders, KEDCO, the city and our elected officials.