Building a Culture of Innovation

More than technology push is needed to drive innovation

Ryerson partners with industry, government and community organizations to make things happen. Our unique cross-disciplinary approach not only drives the creation of new technologies, products, services, and ventures, but also examines the drivers and impediments to change in existing organizations.

Research in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is necessary butinsufficient. We need social sciences and humanities research to better understand user needs, organizational drivers, factors shaping personal preferences and behaviour, aesthetic and content design, as well as policy, legal, and ethical issues. We need to understand the demand side as well as the supply side to drive innovation.

Take, for example, the Ryerson Centre for Cloud and Context-Aware Computing (RC4), which partners with industry to develop leading-edge technology and tools. RC4 also examines the impediments and drivers of mobile technology adoption and develops evidence-based strategies to promote them, tailoring them to specific vertical markets such as entertainment, financial services, manufacturing, health care, and transportation. Research shows that while Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the drivers of economic development, they often do not have the time or money to devote to new technologies that could help drive their growth and success. Through our action-oriented research, and partners like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, we help SMEs to develop the absorptive capacity to innovate and remove barriers.

Research at Ryerson provides many examples of how a multidisciplinary perspective brings new ideas and perspective to solve societal problem. Our new Social Media Lab offers leading-edge technology and deep social science insights to understand and predict behaviour. The work of psychologist Frank Russo uses music to stimulate the brain and promote rehabilitation in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Computer scientist Alex Ferworn has integrated the functionality of robots with the instincts of dogs to devise a unique approach to urban search and rescue. Photographer Edward Burtynsky, a Ryerson alumnus, is working with Ryerson’s Advanced Manufacturing, Design and 3D Printing Lab to explore the frontiers of additive manufacturing and 3D design in domains as diverse as architecture, health care, aerospace, and culture. He is also hosting Toronto’s first comprehensive conference on the subject of 3D printing on October 23 and 24. Engineering professor Bala Venkatesh, academic director of the Centre for Urban Energy, is forging a new partnership with Schneider Electric to provide mission critical back-up power through microgrids.

Ryerson is leading the development of Canada’s innovation ecosystem by daring to go where no one has gone before. Bridging disciplines and building strong partnerships to solve real societal needs, Ryerson researchers combine excellence and relevance in exciting new ways.

For more information, check out: innovation Issue 17: September/October 2015