Valorization / Valorisation

David Phipps, RIR-York

Valorization is a term that was recently used to describe social innovation. I think it describes what some seek to accomplish in knowledge mobilization quite well. Trouble is the term “valorization” is no easier to understand than the term “knowledge mobilization”.

La valorisation est un terme qui a été utilisé récemment pour décrire l’innovation sociale. Je crois que cela décrit ce que certains tentent d’accomplir par la mobilisation des connaissances également. Le problème est que le terme « valorisation » n’est pas plus facile à comprendre que celui de « mobilisation des connaissances».

Innovation 2012 is Canada’s academic innovation conference. It started as the Canadian conference of the Association of University Technology Managers. It then became the annual conference of the Alliance for the Commercialization of Canadian Technology. For the last few years, Innovation Partnerships has welcomed a broader definition of innovation beyond traditional university-industry liaison and technology transfer. Every year for the past few years ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) has exhibited and has hosted a session on social innovation. This year there were four sessions linked to social innovation and RIR was involved in only one of them – that in itself is story enough, but wait…


In the session titled “The intersection of social innovation and commercialization” Heidi Falckh (Hospital for Sick Children) hosted a panel comprised of Allyson Hewitt (Director, Social Entrepreneurship, MaRS), Angus Livingston (UBC) and Amit Jhas (MaRS Innovations).  One of the terms used was valorization. This term is in common use among Francophone technology transfer offices (such as Univalor) and is known as creating or extracting value from university research; however, the term hasn’t had much play in Anglophone Canada.

Miriam Webster defines valorization as enhancing or trying to enhance the price, value, or status of goods.  Wikipedia mentions that the European Commission defines the term as “a process of exploiting project learning and outcomes… with a view to optimising their value and impact in existing and new contexts”. Optimizing value and impact…sounds like knowledge mobilization.

Angus defined valorization as translation of research for social and economic impact. He cited the Veterans Transition Program as an

Angus Livingston

Angus Livingston

example of social innovation supported by his University Industry Liaison Office. This not-for-profit venture began in 1999 and uses group work to help veterans better integrate into life and employment after returning from combat. The program has recently received funding from a variety of sources and is planning on expanding into a national Veterans Transition Network. Angus’ team is experienced at launching and sustaining university spin off companies and they are helping the valorization of this program by adding value and helping it expand across Canada.

Valorization. That’s what we do in our knowledge mobilization practice. Trouble is, Michael Johnny (Manager, Knowledge Mobilization at York University; @MobilizeMichael) always says his mother has no clue what knowledge mobilization means.  Good luck then with valorization, unless she’s French and works in technology commercialization.

Valorization and knowledge mobilization – they both make research useful to society.

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