ResearchImpact puts the “social” in “innovation”

York KMb Unit recently presented at a national conference of university-industry knowledge brokers. Unique to the conference agenda York presented new thinking on gaps in Canada’s innovation agenda. Take home message: It’s time to put the social in innovation. But we’re not sure they will let David dance next year.
Innovation in research lingo is most often associated with advancements in science and technology and between university and industry partners to support economic prosperity through new products and services. Historic investments in research and development within Canada have reinforced this. So, it was interesting (and encouraging) to see ACCT Canada (the Alliance for the Commercialization of Canadian Technology) set Mobilization as one of its thematic pillars for their recent annual Innovation 2010 conference in Ottawa. The other two pillars were Connect and Collaborate. And with an opportunity to introduce ResearchImpact, and share the leadership York University has demonstrated in advancing an innovation agenda to support social innovation, David Phipps and Michael Johnny ventured north for three days of workshops, plenary panels and networking.
Make no mistake; this is not the traditional audience for ResearchImpact to demonstrate its services as a national network of university-led knowledge mobilization units. All the more reason to be there! With almost 700 registrants present from across Canada and throughout the world, it was a traditional conference for industry liaison offices, technology transfer offices, other professionals and leaders in the university-industry innovation sector. And York University was well represented. Michael Johnny and David Phipps worked the ResearchImpact booth to educate and inform registrants of the work Canadian universities are developing in areas of social innovation through dedicated knowledge mobilization units. We also welcomed Caroline Roger of ResearchImpact-ReseauImpactRecherche (UQAM) at the conference. In one workshop, SSHRC President Chad Gaffield, Innovator Gerri Sinclair, and York Vice President Research and Innovation Stan Shapson shared their experiences and vision toward developing a more comprehensive innovation agenda for Canada. An innovation agenda that embraced social innovation as well as innovation for the service industries. This session was moderated by David Phipps. Dr. Phipps did double duty, serving as a plenary speaker in a panel moderated by Knowledge Mobilization consultant Peter Levesque ( titled, ‘Beyond Commercialization: Turning Research into Action’. This panel also featured Yolande Chan ( and Bernadette Conant (
It was exciting to see efforts around social innovation being well received. This was an extremely important investment for ResearchImpact, a network that continues to be seen as a national leader in knowledge mobilization. With mobilization as one of the central pillars of the conference, it was worthwhile to share the message of social innovation being a critical aspect of Canada’s innovation agenda.
Here’s a summary of our metrics:
• Meaningful Conversations at the ResearchImpact booth – 25
• People present to hear Drs. Gaffield, Shapson and Sinclair speak about Social Innovation – 45
• People present to hear Dr. Phipps speak on a panel about Turning Research Into Action – 55 (not bad for last session of the conference!)
• David Phipps’ Dangerous Dancing Reputation – priceless