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RRC supports WCIO to catalyze industry-academic partnerships across Western Canada

April 5, 2016

brent-wennekesRed River College has joined forces with the Western Canadian Innovation Offices (WCIO) consortium as part of an effort to connect Western Canadian industry needs with the array of research and innovation resources that exist in WCIO’s nearly 40-member consortium of universities, colleges and polytechnics across the West.

The WCIO is a Western Economic Diversification (WD) Canada-funded pilot project that seeks to enhance collaboration between academic research institutions, and enhance access to these institutions by prospective industry partners. The overall goal is improved engagement between industry and academia, in order to address industry-driven needs and challenges.

“Increasing R&D investment by Canadian business enterprises is definitely an opportunity for Western Canada,” says Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research & Commercialization (AR&C), and WCIO steering committee member. “The WCIO initiative is working to be part of the solution by increasing the research and innovation-related engagement between industry and the post-secondary sector.”

RRC will support the WCIO with boots on the ground. Brent Wennekes, Research Manager with AR&C, has been seconded part-time — with direct financial support from WCIO — to perform as a business development specialist working with post-secondary institutions in Manitoba. Brent’s is one of eight such positions being created across the West.

“Brent is not only connected to Manitoba’s business community, he is also recognized by many local researchers via his experience with both RRC and Innovate Manitoba, and has developed an excellent understanding of Canada’s innovation ecosystem,” says Hoemsen.

WCIO currently has funding available for energy-related projects that include more than one institutional research partner.

“Strategically, with RRC’s research themes of sustainable technology and advanced transportation, our partnership makes a lot of sense,” says Hoemsen. “More importantly, businesses now have a go-to resource for tapping into the wide array of academic research that exist in the West.”

Under the theme of ‘Energy,’ WCIO includes the following research areas: clean tech/alternative energy, remediation/reclamation, hydrocarbons, hydroelectric, grid design and distribution, and socio-economic impacts.

The results of WCIO’s first call for proposals are expected to be announced imminently. A second call for proposals is anticipated later in 2016.

The WD funding for WCIO was initiated and is held by the University of Manitoba, the lead institution in the WCIO consortium.

Do you, or does your industry or sector,
have a problem that needs solving? Want to explore your potential for research capabilities across Western Canada?

To get started or learn more, contact:

Brent Wennekes
Business Development Specialist, Western Canadian Innovation Office
204.631.3323 |