Entrepreneurial and creative society
CAFCE (Canadian Association for Co-operative Education) is the voice for post-secondary co-operative education in Canada. Co-operative education (co-op) programs alternate periods of academic study and work experience in fields that are relevant to students’ programs of study. Students are given opportunities to test their theoretical knowledge in real-world contexts, explore a variety of careers before fully entering the workforce, and earn both valuable experience and compensation.
Co-operative education is a foundational part of Canada’s reputation as a nation full of innovative, skilled entrepreneurs. When students participate in co-op programs, they develop the professional skills — communication, teamwork, problem solving — that employees and creators need to thrive in the future economy. They’re also given the chance to watch and learn from existing innovators in their communities.
CAFCE recommends Industry Canada consider the following options as a means of furthering its Innovation Agenda:
Canada Innovation Co-op Grants
Startups and innovation businesses should be encouraged to hire Canadian co-op students through the establishment of a grant program.
How would this work?
The grant program would involve the development of partnerships between post-secondary institutions and businesses meeting a set of eligibility requirements. A portion of the grant funds would be put towards a percentage of students’ salaries, making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to pursue innovation and plan for additional hiring.
The grants would be distributed across Canada’s provinces and territories based on a prorated distribution, i.e. more grants for provinces with a greater number of enrolled co-op students. The grants would also be spread equitably across the country’s various innovation sectors. A cap on eligible business size would be implemented to ensure the grants benefit startups and small businesses. The number of grant-eligible hires per fiscal year would also be restricted to ensure the grants’ reach across as many businesses as possible. Finally, an additional incentive could be implemented to encourage innovative businesses to hire students looking for their first co-op position.
What are the potential outcomes?
- The creation of ground-level partnerships between startups and small businesses and post-secondary institutions (e.g. RIM’s relationship with the University of Waterloo)
- Immediate incentives for innovation companies and startups who can support the hiring of co-op students.
- Increased opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers in Canada’s various innovation sectors.
Co-op Entrepreneurship Program
A scholarship for co-op student innovators should be established, encouraging students to spend a term developing their own ideas and/or companies with fewer financial restrictions.
How would this work?
Scholarships valued at $10,000 per work term (four months) would be offered to student innovators intent on spending their terms developing their own ideas or enterprises. The scholarships would be distributed across Canada’s provinces and territories based on a prorated distribution and would be awarded based on applications. The collection of applications and delivery of funds would be coordinated with students’ post-secondary institutions and advertised on campuses and through institutions’ co-op programs.
What are the potential outcomes?
- Canada’s innovative capacity would increase through the support and development of aspiring entrepreneurs in a co-op context.
- The program would encourage the development of students’ entrepreneurial mindsets and innovation skills while still allowing them to experience formalized co-op programs. Students who haven’t actively considered entrepreneurship could be encouraged to give it a try by the provision of a considerable scholarship.
Mitacs Undergraduate & Graduate Co-op Program
Mitacs should expand its operations by introducing a series of co-op-specific awards at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Co-op student recipients would spend a work term in a Mitacs-endorsed research environment, developing their skills and contributing to their employers’ innovative efforts. These awards would augment Mitacs’ existing efforts to expand and support research-based innovation in Canada.
How would this work?
Many post-secondary institutions already have a relationship with Mitacs because of its research funding, training, and support for international research collaborations. The new program would build on these pre-existing relationships and the associated infrastructure. The resulting co-op opportunities with researchers across the country would yield benefits for post-secondary institution, Mitacs, and its partners.
What are the potential outcomes?
- Co-op students interested in research and innovation would have a new way to pursue appropriate employment within their chosen field.
- Increased partnership between Mitacs and post-secondary institutions will reduce competition for talented students, and it can create opportunities for the sharing of knowledge and resources.
A key to Memorial’s ongoing success in supporting provincial and national innovation and prosperity has been the success of a number of university units and centres that exist to help bridge the divide between university knowledge and community needs. Consistent with the recommendations of the Jenkins Task force, these organizations work with industry, government, and community partners to help turn ideas into innovative solutions, bolster industry-led R&D, an area in which Canada lags behind other OECD nations, and form the heart of sectoral clusters.
Since its inception, Memorial has had a legislative mandate to contribute to the social and economic development of the province. This “special obligation” to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador had led to a university that is an international leader in publicly-engaged teaching and learning and research. Experiential learning, service learning, applied research, and faculty members and staff with expertise and commitment to knowledge mobilization and community-based research, typify Memorial’s leadership in partnering with industry, community organizations and governments within the province and beyond.
A key element of this success has been the establishment of boundary-spanning institutions and mechanisms that enable external partners to access the expertise and resources of university faculty and staff, and which enable research, teaching and learning to respond to needs and opportunities identified by external partners. These vehicles for innovation and collaboration also facilitate mutual identification of shared projects, ground-truthing during the research and commercialization process, and result in external partners who have commitment to apply results in real world contexts.
Drs. David Wolfe and Peter Warrian of the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School, University of Toronto, recently completed a report, “C-CORE as a Networked Industrial Policy Initiative,” highlighted this unique university-owned, entrepreneurial boundary spanner organization (elaborated upon below). Drs. Wolfe and Warrian are now embarking on a study of the Marine Institute at Memorial, another world-leading unit which links the applied training and industrial-sponsored research of a polytechnic, with the research expertise and highly trained personal of the university.
Memorial also has nationally and internationally recognized units in the Genesis Centre technology incubator, the Lesley Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, identified by the OECD as an international best practice, and the NL Centre of Applied Health Research, with a Director who reports jointly to the Dean of Medicine and the Deputy Minister of Health. Memorial is also the developer and steward of Yaffle, an on-line connecting tool being expanded to the college system in NL and to universities in the Maritimes and potentially across the country.
The federal government should work with the funding councils and the National Research Council, or establish separate departmental programing, to support such critically important boundary spanning institutions and on-line tools.
The federal government should make a strategic investment in the economic and environmental well-being of Canada through supporting the establishment of the Fisheries and Marine Institute Holyrood Marine Base Phase IIB ($25 million) and the C-CORE Cold Ocean Oil Spill Response Centre of Excellence ($35 million).
Driven, by and large, by universities, pure, or theoretical research helps to develop the knowledge breakthroughs that form the basis for new innovations. Likewise, and often more immediately, strong applied research done in collaboration with community, industry, or government partners also leads to impactful innovation. And as the range of social and economic problems grow increasingly complex, both pure and applied research will require interdisciplinary teams to contend with the entire scope of these challenges and develop the innovations that are able to address them.
Federal support, through the three research councils, should be increased, and funding program policies should be adapted to facilitate interdisciplinary and collaborative applied research projects between university, community, industry, and government partners.
In Canada’s sesquicentennial year, over one million undergraduates are entering university halls across the country. These students are the foundation of Canada’s innovative future. Canada’s universities are committed to equipping these students with the skills and knowledge they need to flourish in work and life, empowering them to contribute to Canada’s economic and social success.
We need to do better as a country to meet the aspirations and unlock the potential of Indigenous youth – their community’s future leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Currently, only 11 per cent of Indigenous peoples aged 25 to 34 in Canada have a university degree, compared to 33 per cent of non-Indigenous Canadians in the same age group.
- Universities Canada aspires to significantly reduce the gap between the university participation rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians within the next ten years, by increasing federal financial assistance to Indigenous students and institutional efforts.
- Universities Canada also recommends supporting more Indigenous students to pursue graduate and post-doctoral studies, growing the cohort of Indigenous university faculty and researchers and boosting their engagement in Canada’s innovative future.
Through work-integrated learning, hands-on research training, and global experiences, Canadian university graduates are educated in a culture of innovation and prepared with 21st century skills including flexibility, adaptability, and an openness to risk-taking.
We support the call by the Canadian Business/Higher Education Roundtable for access to work-integrated learning for 100 per cent of Canadian postsecondary students.
- To support this goal, Universities Canada, along with national business and student groups, recommends investment in new federal measures, such as vouchers and tax credits, to incentivize employers – particularly in small- and medium-sized enterprises and not-for-profit organizations – to create more paid co-op and internship placements across disciplines and address the barriers employers face in offering such placements.
Canada’s universities are dynamic and supportive partners in helping businesses and not-for-profit organizations solve their problems. One of the greatest contributions universities make to innovation is equipping their graduates with the skills, knowledge and mindset to contribute to our contemporary and future economy. Through a range of knowledge mobilization activities – hands-on learning experiences of co-op students and graduates, community service and outreach, public policy engagement, inter-sectoral partnerships, and the commercialization of research – universities contribute to innovation, prosperity and the quality of life in Canada. Such a flexible approach is needed as no one-size-fits-all approach will suit the diverse needs and capabilities across Canada’s regions. Commercialization contributions are made by universities as valued research partners and through knowledge spill-overs in the form of spin-off companies.
- Canada’s universities have proven themselves to be prolific generators of new ideas and designs, but R&D assistance is needed in the start-up phase to bridge the capital and financing gap between the initial idea and venture capital stages of the commercialization wave.
- Targeted support should also be provided to encourage incubation and acceleration on university campuses, and to facilitate access to risk capital. Our graduates abound with ideas, but help is needed to develop strong and nimble start-ups that can grow into globally competitive companies.
Universities can also provide support to young companies by helping educate business talent in areas where we know Canada needs improvement – training executive talent with the ability to scale-up small start-ups, and building know ledge of sales into the business curriculum to assist small companies to grow.
À l’approche du 150e anniversaire de la Confédération, plus de un million d’étudiants au premier cycle font leur entrée à l’université d’un bout à l’autre du pays. Ces étudiants sont le fondement de l’innovation future au Canada. Les universités s’engagent à inculquer à ces étudiants les compétences et le savoir dont ils ont besoin pour s’épanouir sur les plans personnel et professionnel, et ainsi contribuer à la réussite économique et sociale du Canada.
Le Canada doit faire plus pour concrétiser les aspirations et réaliser le potentiel des jeunes Autochtones, qui seront les dirigeants, les innovateurs et les entrepreneurs de demain dans leurs collectivités. À l’heure actuelle, seulement 11 pour cent des Autochtones de 25 à 34 ans possèdent un diplôme universitaire, comparativement à 33 pour cent des Canadiens non autochtones du même groupe d’âge.
- Universités Canada aspire à réduire considérablement l’écart entre Canadiens autochtones et non autochtones en matière de taux de fréquentation de l’université au cours des 10 prochaines années par la hausse de l’aide financière fédérale aux étudiants autochtones et des initiatives des établissements d’enseignement.
- Universités Canada recommande également d’appuyer un plus grand nombre d’étudiants autochtones pour qu’ils entreprennent des études aux cycles supérieurs et au niveau postdoctoral, d’augmenter le nombre de professeurs et de chercheurs autochtones, et d’accroître leur participation à l’innovation future du Canada.
Par l’apprentissage intégré au travail, la recherche sur le terrain et les expériences à l’étranger, les diplômés universitaires canadiens sont formés au sein d’une culture d’innovation et acquièrent des compétences du XXIe siècle, dont la souplesse, la capacité d’adaptation et une ouverture au risque.
Universités Canada appuie les revendications de la Table ronde de l’enseignement supérieur et les entreprises, qui réclame l’accès à des expériences d’apprentissage intégré au travail pour tous les étudiants canadiens de niveau postsecondaire.
- À cette fin, Universités Canada et d’autres groupes nationaux étudiant et des milieux des affaires et recommandent au gouvernement fédéral d’investir dans de nouvelles mesures, comme des bons et des crédits d’impôt, pour inciter les employeurs – surtout les PME et les organisations à but non lucratif – à créer plus de stages rémunérés dans toutes les disciplines et à résoudre les difficultés qui les empêchent d’offrir ce type d’expériences aux étudiants.
Les universités canadiennes sont des partenaires dynamiques qui aident les entreprises et les organisations à but non lucratif à trouver des solutions à leurs problèmes. Une des plus grandes contributions des universités en matière d’innovation est de donner à leurs diplômés les compétences, les connaissances et la mentalité nécessaires pour participer à l’économie du XXIe siècle. Les universités contribuent à l’innovation, à la prospérité et à la qualité de vie des Canadiens grâce à diverses activités de mobilisation du savoir. Il suffit de penser aux programmes d’enseignement coopératif qui offrent aux étudiants des expériences d’apprentissage sur le terrain, aux activités de service à la collectivité, à la participation à l’établissement des politiques publiques, aux partenariats intersectoriels et aux activités de commercialisation de la recherche. La souplesse est de mise, car il n’existe pas de démarche unique en mesure de répondre aux besoins des différentes régions du Canada.
Les universités contribuent à la commercialisation de la recherche en agissant comme précieux partenaires de recherche et en favorisant la transmission du savoir par le démarrage d’entreprises.
- Les universités sont une source intarissable de nouvelles idées, mais elles requièrent du soutien en recherche-développement (R-D) pendant la phase de démarrage pour faire le lien entre l’idée initiale et les capitaux de risque nécessaires à sa concrétisation pendant le processus de commercialisation.
- Il faut également offrir un soutien ciblé pour favoriser l’incubation et l’accélération sur les campus et faciliter l’accès au capital de risque. Nos diplômés ne manquent pas d’idées, mais ils ont besoin d’appuis pour mettre sur pied de jeunes entreprises solides et souples en mesure de devenir concurrentielles à l’échelle mondiale.
Les universités peuvent également soutenir les jeunes entreprises en offrant une formation en administration des affaires dans les domaines où le Canada peut faire mieux, soit en formant des dirigeants à faire croître des entreprises en démarrage et en intégrant des connaissances sur les ventes aux cours des programmes de commerce pour aider les petites entreprises à grandir.
Canada can and should be leading the world in social entrepreneurship; by diverting efforts and funding out of resource extraction and into entrepreneurship training programs, Canada could, at a national level, turn Canadian’s attentions away from the old economy and towards the values-based economy. The values-based economy is the ultimate vision for organizations like Certified B Corps. In this vision, businesses start to compete not only for market share, but for recognition as top “impactors.” As B Labs puts it, it is the drive to “be not only the best in the world, but the best for the world. A values-based economy is one in which the average consumer considers the values, philosophy and business practices of the organizations they choose to purchase from, before they make their purchase decisions. The Canadian Government can also provide incentives to business faculties at higher-learning facilities to change-over to values-based business teaching.
In order to lead social entrepreneurship, Canadian society needs to value green business certifications (example: LEED Certifications), social enterprise certifications (example: B Corp status) and social responsibility certifications (example: Fair Trade certification).
The Canadian Government can support this culture shift towards a values-driven economy by pledging to seek tenders from these types of certified, socially-focused organizations. Government contracts are extremely influential in the Canadian marketplace and it really matters who the Federal Government chooses to do business with. The Government can look at commitments like that of the City of Toronto (http://on.thestar.com/2cbohRw), which has committed to purchasing from more diverse organizations as a guide.
If Canadian entrepreneurs truly believe that their businesses are more likely to be successful as social enterprises rather than as traditional profit maximizers, they will structure their businesses as social enterprises. By providing opportunities to learn about triple-bottom lines, CSR reporting and social innovation, the Canadian Government can encourage social entrepreneurship.
As Minister Bains recently said, “Canada needs a bold, coordinated strategy on innovation that delivers results for all Canadians.” It is vital that in 2016, our approach to innovation is both an inclusive and coordinated one. A strategy that benefits only certain regions, industries, or disciplines will be insufficient for innovation leadership.
Without careful planning, the shift towards an increasingly tech-driven, globalized economy may exacerbate existing social disparities. An inclusive approach to innovation will make the most of the skills, qualifications, and ideas held across Canada’s diverse population, and in particular women, Indigenous peoples, and new Canadians.
Canada’s strategy must also promote new partnerships across sectors and borders, while avoiding duplication of efforts. Enhanced collaboration and greater integration among players in Canada’s innovation ecosystem must be a priority if public funds are to be invested as strategically and effectively as possible.
Mitacs supports these objectives by working with provincial, national and international partners across disciplines and sectors to improve Canadian productivity and growth. Our expansive network allows Mitacs’ innovation internships to be integrated into complimentary initiatives, avoiding duplication and presenting a simplified point of access for participants. Specifically, Mitacs has worked to support this coordination through partnerships with organizations like CIHR, SSHRC, NSERC, Genome Canada, NRC-IRAP and many more federally supported entities promoting Canadian innovation.
Finally, an inclusive and coordinated approach must recognize the continued importance of basic research. Mitacs encourages the federal government to support Canada’s granting councils, and to promote basic research at colleges, polytechnics and universities across Canada. Often, basic research leads to new discoveries, and support for untargeted research is important to our innovative future.
Take great provincial examples like BCIC Innovator Skills Initiative and the Nova Scotia Productivity and Innovation Voucher Program and create a national effort to supply students with applied knowledge and skills through working directly in startups/SMB environment. At the same time ,you will be building stronger linkages with businesses, universities, colleges and research organizations and exposure to entrepreneurship career stream.
Provinces that already have programs in place will maintain their inter-province competitive advantage and either expand scope and eligibility of students and firms. They could also have the option of providing voucher for ICT skills development of existing employees like the B.C Micro Business Training (MBT) Program.
Federal government can have the oversight to ensure all provinces all equipped at a high standard and the provinces can choose to expand scope of program or eligibility to differentiate themselves in the clusters they have deemed a priority.
Links to examples below: