Advanced manufacturing is a key driver of the new economy, and universities across Ontario were at Queen’s Park this week to promote the talent, industry partnerships and innovation that are key to its growth.
The event was the second in the Council of Ontario Universities’ Policy Discussion Series, highlighting the role Ontario universities play in providing solutions to the government’s public policy challenges. The Ontario manufacturing sector accounts for 18 per cent of the province’s economy, generates $270-billion in annual sales, and employs over 12 per cent of its workforce. Labour Minister Laurie Scott, MPPs Stephen Lecce and Jim McDonell, Postsecondary Education Critic Chris Glover, and staff from several Ontario ministries came to talk with researchers in advanced manufacturing. A panel of industry experts shared their views on the benefits of collaborating with higher education institutions.
University research drives innovation by finding more efficient production processes, reducing costs, or developing new markets, industry panelists at the event said.
For Tony Chahine, CEO of Myant Inc., working with universities means the textile computing company can find employees who can marry science and technology skills with strategic thinking. Myant is one of the University of Toronto’s partners in the Advanced Manufacturing supercluster. The federal government launched the supercluster strategy, which brings together companies with academic and research institutions, to help Canadian firms become globally competitive.
At the same time, in order to grow, business needs to invest, both in training people and in research and development, said James Scongack, executive vice-president, corporate affairs at Bruce Power, and another industry panelist.
The University of Toronto has proven to be a magnet for industry investment and collaboration, with multiple research centres and labs working with the private sector to create innovative products in fields from Robotics & Automation to Advanced Aerospace Structures. Approximately 380 faculty members, 12,000 graduate students, 18 research-based start-ups, and $315-million in research funding are devoted to advanced materials and manufacturing at U of T.
The accompanying map shows a sample of U of T’s advanced manufacturing research in a variety of industrial sectors in the GTA and in regions across the province.
Advanced Manufacturing and regional impact