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					40                                                                                                                                                                                                                 THE HILL TIMES, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2009

                                                                                          INNOVATION POLICY BRIEFING

                                                                                                                                                                        Key to robust
                                                                                                                                                                        innovation lies
                                                                                                                                                                        in effective
                                                                                                                                                                        matchmaking
                                                                                                                                                                        between scientists
                                                                                                                                                                        and stakeholders
                                                                                                                                                                        The knowledge transfer between research and its
                                                                                                                                                                        beneficiaries, advocates, and stakeholders is essential
                                                                                                                                                                        to protect project development and stimulate innovation
                                                                                                                                                                        at a time when it is most needed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Researchers can’t do this job from their
The Lavalife of Science: Kathleen Bloom says Canada has a real opportunity here to nurture scien-                                                                                                                      laboratories. And news items of recent
tists who can foster the exploitation of R&D and put knowledge to work for Canadian innovation. Put                                                                                                                    discoveries written for the general pub-
in the words of To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch, the knowledge transfer specialist has to be                                                                                                                     lic don’t lead directly to uptake and
able to climb inside the skin of both the researcher and the innovator. Effective knowledge transfer                                                                                                                   innovation.
understands the creation and the usefulness of the research from both points of view.                                                                                                                                      Put in the words of To Kill a Mock-
                                                                                                                                                                          BY   KATHLEEN BLOOM                          ingbird’s Atticus Finch, the knowledge
                                AN EMBASSY REPORT                                                                                                                                                                      transfer specialist has to be able to climb

                                                                                                                                                                        W      ATERLOO, ONT.—When budgets
                                                                                                                                                                               are tightened in industry and
                                                                                                                                                                        government, research laboratories are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       inside the skin of both the researcher
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       and the innovator. Effective knowledge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       transfer understands the creation and
                                                                                                                                                                        traditionally the first to feel the effects.   the usefulness of the research from both
                                                                                                                                                                        I believe that knowledge transfer              points of view.
                                                                                                                                                                        between research and its beneficiaries,            The second challenge that goes
                                                                                                                                                                        advocates, and stakeholders is essen-          hand in hand with institutional bar-




                              Peace,
                                                                                                                                                                        tial to protect project development and        riers is the problem of research and
                                                                                                                                                                        stimulate innovation at a time when it is      organizational “silos.” Knowledge trans-
                                                                                                                                                                        most needed.                                   fer is a contact sport. One knowledge
                                                                                                                                                                            But efficient knowledge transfer and       transfer specialist I know, a former
                                                                                                                                                                        uptake of research findings is not so          wet-bench immunologist, refers to his
                                                                                                                                                                        easy to achieve. As a result, research         present work as “the Lavalife of Sci-
                                                                                                                                                                        outputs can be choked and wasted. For          ence”: matching the right researcher

Food Production,                                                                                                                                                        example, in the face of more than a mil-
                                                                                                                                                                        lion research articles published annually
                                                                                                                                                                        in medical and health journals, it is esti-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       with the right stakeholder. Knowledge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       transfer specialists facilitate dialogue
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       in which researchers can learn what
                                                                                                                                                                        mated that 30 to 45 per cent of patients       question the stakeholder is really ask-
                                                                                                                                                                        do not receive evidence-based care, and        ing and how the findings will be used.
                                                                                                                                                                        around 25 per cent receive care that has       Stakeholders learn how to frame their
                                                                                                                                   UN Photos




                                                                                                                                                                        been shown by science to be useless or         needs as questions that research can
                                                                                                                                                                        even harmful.                                  feasibly address, or might have already


                         Climate Change
                                                                                                                                                                            To paraphrase economist and politi-        answered. This is how we build capac-
                                                                                                                                                                        cal scientist Réjean Landry, knowledge         ity for innovation. This is how we keep
                                                                                                                                                                        transfer is about getting research findings    research departments alive.
                                                                                                                                                                        and products into the hands of people who
                                                                                                                            Photograph by Jake Wright, The Hill Times




                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The impact of knowledge transfer
                                                                                                                                                                        can use them to solve problems. It is also     will increase by training a new breed
                                                                                                                                                                        about using research to inspire people to      of scholars who are able and eager to
                                                                                                                                                                        think and act differently.                     do this work. There are two reasons for
                                                                                                                                                                            Cultural barriers present two chal-        my optimism. As a university professor,
                                                                                                                                                                        lenges to research uptake and innova-          I know that students come to graduate
                                                                                                                                                                        tion. First, research is typically con-        school because they want to make a dif-
     Issue Date: December 2, 2009 • Booking Deadline: November 27, 2009                          (Noon, Ottawa Time)                                                    ceived, conducted, and disseminated            ference. As a consultant in knowledge
                                                                                                                                                                        by scientists, not by the very people          transfer, I know too that nearly 50 per

 L   eaders from around the world will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Dec. 7 to discuss the most pressing challenge
     facing humanity: climate change. They will attempt to negotiate an ambitious post-Kyoto Protocol agreement that, if
 successful, will have major economic, social and political ramifications, and could reshape our way of life.
                                                                                                                                                                        who can put the findings into action.
                                                                                                                                                                        It is the industry planners, research
                                                                                                                                                                        managers, executives, policy-makers,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       cent of those grad students will not take
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       traditional research positions. We have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       a real opportunity here to nurture sci-
                                                                                                                                                                        practitioners, and researchers in other        entists who can foster the exploitation
 Yet if they are unsuccessful, it could have equally significant effects that will see economic devastation, damage global                                               fields who need accumulated evidence           of R&D and put knowledge to work for
 food security, create large refugee populations, and lead to instability on a scale not seen since the Dark Ages.                                                      unearthed, evaluated, and summarized           Canadian innovation.
 In its Peace, Food Production and Climate Change special
                                                                                                                                                                        in their own languages and for their               Kathleen Bloom is a professor at
 report, Embassy will feature exclusive interviews and stories
                                                                                                                                                                        own purposes. Journal articles won’t           the University of Waterloo special-
 examining the two divergent paths the world could take if real
                                                                                                                                                                        cut it.                                        izing in methods that make academic
 action to curb greenhouse gas emissions isn’t taken.
                                                                                                                                                                            Who can do this work of strategic          research more useful to decision-
                                                                                                                                                                        knowledge translation? It requires             makers. This column was originally
                                                                                                                                                                        individuals who are trained in science         published at The Mark News, Canada’s
   For more information or to reserve your advertising space in this issue,                                                                                             but have the capacity and will to under-       online source for news analysis and
        contact Embassy display advertising at 613-232-5952 ext. 213                                                                                                    stand the uptake side of research and          debate www.themarknews.com
                                                                                                                                                                        speak the language of the stakeholder.                        The Hill Times

				
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