“Coast to coast there are a node of networks meshed together across Canada looking to commercialize ideas products and service in the Knowledge based economy”. That’s how Dale Gann AURP President describes the Association of University Research Parks across Canada. These 26 Parks across Canada play a vital role in collaborations with local Universities and play a role in facilitating the growth of the Science & technology sector. Gann recently spoke about the evolution of the Research Parks and the desire to play a greater role at a National level.
While many of us are aware of the great institutions that we may have graduated from Victoria to Nova Scotia, the impact of the Research Parks associated with these Universities may not be as well known. Today the 26 Research Parks employ approximately 39,000 workers through 950 companies generating $3.8 billion to the Canadian economy.
Gann states that often there’s a misconception that these Parks are thought of as incubators. In the past, these parks just provided brick and mortar for the University community. Today, it’s about 1/3rd brick and mortar and 2/3rds economic development. We provide value added services to attract and retain human capital, financing and make it an environment that companies want to be a part of. That could include connections with VC, trade commissioners, University relations, Intellectual Property Lawyers or other potential collaborations.
The companies vary in size and scope from one Park to another. In Victoria, they range from 1 to 400 employees and could be Public or private part of University Tech transfer or grown organically. Generally 85% of companies are industry and 15% from University at various stages of development. There have been numerous Park successes across Canada. Research in Motion is well known for the Blackberry and based out of Waterloo, Ont. Recently, Genologics out of Victoria was successful in raising $5 million towards ongoing expansion plans and has strong relations with SAS.
AURP Canada was founded in 2007 with a mandate to work with Provincial and federal governments to support Innovations within Canada. The organization provides a unified voice among Research Parks to build awareness in support of Science & Technology infrastructure enabling all stakeholders to achieve future growth and sustainability while nurturing the economic growth of these knowledge based communities.
As part of this awareness campaign, AURP Canada recently launched CanadaNOW. Gann looks forward to upcoming meeting in Ottawa to discuss how the Research Parks can play a greater role in National strategies around Science & technology. “We have plans for 30 shovel ready project across the 26 communities. While each community is currently looking to fill a number of knowledge based positions, an investment from the government would greatly increase employment opportunities and the next phase of Research & Technology jobs across Canada,” Gann stated.