Tag Archives: NCE

Creativity—Connection—Innovation—Dr. Arvind Gupta leads a City (Vancouver, Canada) Conversation this Thursday, April 17, 2014

There’s a lot of excitement about Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) upcoming City Conversation’s April 17, 2014 session featuring Dr. Arvind Gupta, computer scientist and newly appointed president of the University of British Columbia (UBC). Being held at 12:30 pm at SFU’s Harbour Centre campus, the event will be broadcast (this is a first for the City Conversations program) to both the Burnaby and Surrey campuses as well.  Here’s a description of the event and of the speaker, along with more details about the locations (from the April 13, 2014 announcement; Note: Links have been removed),,

This week’s City Conversation [titled: Creativity! Connection! Innovation!] will feature Dr. Arvind Gupta, who will discuss the world of research collaborations and innovation, and the role universities and student entrepreneurs play while bringing their ideas to market.

The event will take place at SFU’s Vancouver campus (Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St., Room 7000), from 12:30-1:30pm on April 17, and for the first time City Conversations will be simulcast and open to audiences at SFU’s Burnaby (IRMACS Theatre, ASB 10900) and Surrey (Room 5380) campuses.

Participants at SFU’s satellite locations will be able to comment and ask questions of the presenters through video conferencing, with SFU associate vice president, External Relations Joanne Curry (Burnaby) and SFU Surrey executive director Steve Dooley (Surrey) serving as moderators.

Dr. Gupta, former SFU professor and current CEO and scientific director of Mitacs [Canadian not-for-profit organization that offers funding for internships and fellowships at Canadian universities and formerly a mathematics NCE (Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada) program {a Canadian federal government program}]. Launched at SFU in 1999, Mitacs supports national innovation by coordinating collaborative industry-university research projects with human capital development at its core.

I understand from City Conversations organizer, Michael Alexander, audio will be recorded and a file will be available. I’m not sure what the timing is but the City Conversations Past Event and Recordings webpage is where you can check for the audio file.

I noticed the talk seems to be oriented to the interests of students and staff but am hopeful that some reference will be made to the impact that creativity, connection, and innovation have on a city and how we in Vancouver could participate.

One biographical note of my own here, for two years I tried to contact Michael Alexander with an idea of a City Conversation. We had that conversation March 31, 2014. It was largely focused on my desire to have some science-oriented City Conversations and this is the outcome (and fingers crossed not the last one). I am thrilled to bits.  For anyone wondering what Gupta’s talk has to do with science, innovation is, usually and internationally, code for applied science and technology.

Canadian research (and other ‘excellence’) initiatives get some competition from the European Research Council

Canadians have been throwing money at scientists for some years now (my May 20, 2010 posting about the Canada Excellence Research Chairs programme). We’ve attempted to recruit from around the world with our ‘research chairs’ and our ‘excellence research chairs’ and our Network Centres of Excellence (NCE) all serving as enticements.

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced that they will be trying to beat us at our own game at the AAAS 2012 annual meeting in Vancouver (this new ERC programme was launched in Boston, Massachusetts in January 2012). From the Agence France Presse Feb. 20, 2012 news item on physorg.com,

The European Research Council launched an international campaign Sunday to court the world’s top scientists to work in Europe with grants of up to 3.5 million euro (4.6 million dollars) over five years.

The goal of the program is to boost the number of non-European researchers to over 500. Currently, just 100 of its 2,600 grant recipients are from outside Europe, said council secretary general Donald Dingwell.

Dingwell, who after Canada plans to visit South Africa, several Asian countries, Latin America, Russia and Ukraine, the United States and Mexico, said the main condition is that recipients spend half their time in Europe and be affiliated with a European institution.

ERC’s Dec. 2011 newsletter features an article, Going global; Making Europe a prime location for the best brains, where they outline the campaign which actually started in 2007 but this latest initiative (Destination Europe) offers a renewed and more aggressive approach (and similarities to the Canadian efforts) to attracting more scientists to Europe. From the article,

The ERC Secretary General Donald Dingwell has been given a key role in this venture. Originally from Canada and with ample international experience, he will be the ERC’s Ambassador worldwide … The US is undoubtedly a hotspot for talent and thus for the ERC, but also the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and other top performers in science will be a priority in the years to come.

That’s a nice touch, having an expat Canadian lead your somewhat competitive initiative.

GRAND offers $7500 for innovative media

The Canadian government funds a set of initiatives known collectively as the Network Centres of Excellence (NCE). GRAND (Graphics, Animation, and New Media), is located in Vancouver, BC. Here’s how the agency describes itself (from the About GRAND webpage),

GRAND is a research network and commercialization engine whose goal is to address complex issues in digital media and transform multidisciplinary research into user-centred solutions. GRAND will explore the use and application of digital media in a variety of settings including entertainment, healthcare, education, environmental sustainability, and public policy.

GRAND is a federally-funded Network of Centres of Excellence supporting 34 research projects divided into 5 cross-pollinating themes involving researchers at 25 universities across Canada with more than 60 industry, government, and nonprofit partners.

Aug. 19, 2011 there was an announcement that GRAND was getting a funding boost for commercialization projects (from the Aug. 19, 2011 news release),

The Canadian government, through Western Economic Diversification (WD), announced a funding commitment to boost GRAND’s research commercialization initiatives. The two-year agreement will support technology transfer, start-up creation, prototype development and networking events.  WD’s $399,000 will be matched by GRAND and industry for a total investment of $649,000 for the digital media economies of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The program expects to develop nine technology prototypes, conduct 40 technology demonstrations and bring nine technologies to market.

Coincidentally or not, Mark Salopek, GRAND’s Manager of Technology Transfer and Commercialization, made this announcement via a Nov. 18, 2011 article by Dan Verhaeghe on Techvibes,

Grand is offering $7500 to any company that is willing to employ one of the program’s PH.D student researchers to build the frameworks of innovation towards a goal that will help Canada continue to become a world leader in the digital media industry in any of the latter sectors mentioned.

Verhaeghe’s article mentions computing, simulation, 3D, and gaming technology sectors in addition to the graphics, animation, and new media technology sectors mentioned in GRAND’s own profile.

If you are interested in getting more details, contact Mark Salopek by e-mail here. Certainly, I have a few questions, how long would you have to employ someone? Are the funds for a salary? How much work do you have to do to get this money (anyone who’s ever filled out a government grant application will tell you that it is an arduous process)? Is there some sort of reporting process for outcomes and how much work is involved with writing that up? Is there a pool of PhD students to choose from or do you go out and find one yourself? Is there a deadline? Why isn’t there any information about this grant on the GRAND website?