COMMENTARY BY MARILYN LUSCOMBE, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF NBCC
Applied research and innovation is an essential element of the education offered at New Brunswick Community College, and is am important ingredient to growth in New Brunswick. It enriches the learning experience for students, and also helps businesses and communities solve problems and seize opportunities.
As a leader in applied learning, NBCC is well-positioned to be responsive in meeting the practical needs of industry. Our faculty maintain strong connections and bring deep practical experience from their sectors.
In addition to helping businesses and community organizations address challenges, improve productivity and transfer technology, applied research activities at NBCC impact the provincial economy – creating employment and increasing purchases of equipment, supplies and services.
In 2017-18, 40 staff and 141 NBCC students participated in applied research and innovation projects with 75 industry and community partners. NBCC’s applied research currently generates over a half million dollars in added income for the New Brunswick economy on an annual basis, and that will grow as our college grows in experience and with increased support from funding agencies and partners.
Recently, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced an investment of nearly $45 million in research projects at 94 colleges across Canada through the College and Community Innovation Fund (CCI). The three NBCC research projects being funded through the College and Community Innovation Fund will positively impact New Brunswickers’ health, their communities and the technology sector:
- Our pulmonary rehabilitation project is increasing access to this life-saving therapy for patients in the Saint John region, saving health care dollars by lowering the number of hospital visits and giving our students the practical, hands-on learning experience.
- Through a partnership with Brilliant Labs, One Change, Pathways to Education and Living SJ, NBCC student mentors inspire youth in priority neighbourhoods to consider education and careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) sectors, while building their own community leadership capacity.
- In collaboration with key partners in New Brunswick’s tech sector, NBCC’s NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing is partnering with companies to use technology to make our communities smarter, safer and healthier.
NBCC appreciates that the federal government has recognized the value of applied research at colleges through programs such as the College and Community Innovation Fund. Since becoming eligible for tri-council funding in 2012, NBCC has received investments from all three councils – NSERC, the Social Sciences and Human Research Council, and the Canadian Institute of Health Research. However, to fully realize the potential of applied research and innovation at NBCC, enhanced funding programs and improved eligibility criteria – criteria that recognize the unique nature of the college sector, are required.
NBCC’s applied research and innovation efforts will be enhanced by increasing college-specific research funding at both the federal and provincial levels. The federal government has made progress in recognizing the value of college research, and we are working with provincial counterparts for increased funding so federal investments can be leveraged for the benefit of New Brunswick.
With the right investments from federal and provincial governments, the potential of Canada’s publicly-funded colleges can be unleashed to strengthen Canada’s capacity to innovate and prosper. NBCC is committed to working with government, industry and community partners so that the talent and expertise of our students and staff can be further benefit New Brunswick.