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University innovation receives government investment

Joe Oliver

Minister of Finance Joe Oliver (left, with 7DSurgical Inc. CEO Beau Standish) announced the $10.7 million investment on Monday at Ryerson's Digital Media Zone. Photo: National Research Council of Canada.

The Government of Canada is investing up to $10.7 million in Ryerson University through the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP).

Over the next five years, Ryerson University, in collaboration with Simon Fraser University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, will receive the funding to establish a national research-driven incubator network - Zones of Innovation and Incubation (ZI2) - to amplify the universities' existing research and incubator facilities and to create an expansive ecosystem which will drive technology-enabled innovation, productivity and job creation.

The announcement was made Monday at the Digital Media Zone by Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance, on behalf of the Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

The pan-Canadian project targets digital technology and gaming, leveraging deep research expertise at the partner institutions and will create soft landing support for Canadian companies going global and international companies investing in Canada.

"Digital technology and gaming are driving growth in Canada's information and communications technology sector and enabling productivity improvements and innovation in virtually every other sector whether health care, advanced manufacturing, financial services, entertainment or the public sector," said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy. "Thanks to this strategic investment by the Government of Canada, our ZI2 network will support market-driven research, deepen links to domestic and international markets, grow new ventures and create jobs.”

ZI2 will leverage and expand existing applied research and commercialization-focused infrastructure at consortium partners, all of which co-locate technology development and business space, students, researchers, businesses, potential customers and financiers.  The new CAIP funding at Ryerson will be allocated to expanding its existing digital technologies and gaming-focused research groups and incubation zones such as the Ryerson Centre for Cloud Computing which includes the Advanced Manufacturing, Design and 3D Printing Lab and the Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Science Technology (iBEST) partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital, and towards growing new gaming and simulation projects.

Over the next five years ZI2 will support approximately 375 companies, resulting in hundreds of direct jobs and indirect jobs, countless new products and services, and will be sustainable. Through this program, the institutions will be able to unlock federal and provincial investments in innovation and educational capacity through direct access to top student and faculty talent, the creators and enabled by IP and technology transfer.  They will also bridge the commercialization gap to increase the ability of startups and small to medium sized enterprises to secure management and key talent, access investment capital, and commercialize products.

Adrian Bulzacki, founder of the DMZ-based ARB Labs (which creates software to make human body language understandable for computers), praised the new initiative. “Establishing a research company and joining an incubator like the DMZ was a logical path, one that complements my original scientific contribution in automatic gesture database sorting and identification.

“I am pleased to hear that even more is being done by Ryerson and the government of Canada. Programs such as the Canadian Accelerator and Incubation Program are vital to entrepreneurs like myself.”