SMEs in Eastern Ontario need access to research and innovation, forum hears

Research from the University of Toronto is helping small and medium-sized businesses in Ontario scale up and find new markets, an audience in Peterborough heard last week.

In a panel discussion, representatives from Peterborough start-ups, the regional economic development office, and U of T-associated researchers and leaders shared experiences about the impact of universities and colleges on their companies’ trajectories.

The discussion was part of a series analyzing the recommendations of the OCC’s new report on The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario's Regional Economies. Universities and the talent and research networks to which they contribute are important building blocks for regional economic growth, the report argues.

In Peterborough, local companies are turning to universities to develop distinct products that give them an advantage in global markets, said Diane Richard, Director of Product Development for Charlotte Products and President of Diatom Consulting and Professional Training Inc.

Charlotte Products collaborated with researchers at U of T’s Yip Lab and Kelley Lab to develop new technology that is revolutionizing infection prevention in hospitals, seniors’ centres and daycares. 

The conversation was moderated by Derek Newton, Assistant Vice-President, Innovation, Partnerships and Entrepreneurship. MPP Stan Cho spoke about his own family’s journey to becoming small business owners in Canada.

“Going to postsecondary was the best idea I ever had to get my business started and it continues to open doors,” said Dylan Trepanier, a recent college graduate and founder of a network of on-campus eye care clinics.

The last stop of the roundtable discussions will be in Hamilton — the session will highlight how postsecondary institutions in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region are collaborating to improve congestion and transportation in the area.