Looking ahead: Our 2016-2017 priorities

Federal Government Reviews and U of T Strategic Research Plan

This coming year is likely to be pivotal with respect to the form research and innovation support and funding in Canada will take for years to come. In March 2016, the Federal government announced several research funding and structural reviews that will serve to shape research and innovation policy.  To help ensure that Federal support for research, including through the granting councils, is strategic and effective:

  • the Minister of Science will undertake a comprehensive review of all elements of Federal support for fundamental science;
  • the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development will define a new national Innovation Agenda.

Given the importance of Federal research funding for U of T, the VPRI portfolio will engage the U of T community to ensure appropriate input into the Federal government reviews. As we look ahead, in 2017 we will also be developing a new University Strategic Research Plan. This will present an opportunity to ensure that our Plan is aligned with any new directions that are set as a result of the Federal reviews.  Our work, coupled with the immense talent, energy and dedication of the research community at U of T, will enable us to continue to build upon past accomplishments while also expanding successfully into new areas and enhancing our reputation nationally and internationally as a hub of research and innovation excellence.

Enabling Research and Innovation Success

Though we have been quite successful in securing research funding from a variety of sources, the increasingly competitive nature of the research funding environment means that we cannot be complacent. Given the depth and breadth of research expertise and the world-class character of our researchers, moving forward we will focus on increasing both the amount of private- sector research funding and U of T’s market share of Tri-Agency funding. Accordingly, building and sustaining major institutional initiatives that advance our research and innovation agenda on the world stage will continue to be a focus for us.

We have made significant advancements in supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and will continue to undertake initiatives to build upon U of T’s successes, including supporting the development of a regional innovation corridor that captures key academic institutions. As well, this year BBCIE enhanced its capacity and knowledge base by adding an Academic Director, and submitted a second application to the Ontario government to secure funding to continue to support U of T’s CLAs. The Centre is also developing plans to launch ONRamp, a 15,000 square-foot collaborative networking space in the BBCIE that will provide space for student startups from U of T and other Ontario universities including Waterloo, Western, McMaster, and Guelph. That initiative will be accompanied by a new emphasis on social innovation and entrepreneurship and an expanded focus on engaging humanities and social science students.

Collaborative Research Opportunities

The VPRI must continue to provide the support and guidance needed to enable individuals and teams to be successful with large, collaborative research opportunities that are multi-divisional and often multi-institutional. The Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) program is a prime example of the need for nimble and strategic coordination across disciplinary, divisional, institutional, sectoral and geographic boundaries. The opportunities presented by the program are outstanding and U of T is extremely well-positioned to capitalize upon them. To that end, the VPRI will be pursuing the following:

  • The second CFREF competition: U of T has developed a proposal entitled Data-Driven Solutions, which involves collaboration across U of T and with external partners.
  • The 2016-17 CFI Innovation Fund competition; especially the opportunity for closer collaboration with our partner hospitals.

Three Priorities

We will continue to support the Three Priorities: Reimagining Undergraduate Education, Leveraging Our Urban Location, and International Impact.

Providing Information More Effectively

Effectively communicating with members of the U of T research community is essential to the VPRI’s ability to fulfill its mandate successfully. We are always looking for ways to improve the flow of information and strengthen research communications. To that end, with support from University of Toronto Communications, we are in the process of revamping the VPRI website to make it more user-friendly and better able to serve both our internal and external communities.