Yesterday, I was honoured to be named British Columbia’s first Chief Advisor: Innovation Network, and to be appointed to the Premier’s Technology Council.
The announcement was made at DarkVision Technologies in North Vancouver, a terrific example of a BC-born, innovation-driven company.
As Chief Advisor, I will work with leaders in industry and post-secondary education and research to transform BC’s innovation ecosystem into an innovation network – a network that collaborates, communicates and advocates in ways that support us all.
It is my hope that in working together to establish this network we will find new ways of collaborating and aligning ourselves.
For example, with closer ties, we can work more effectively to promote stronger linkages between the BC companies who depend on the availability of highly talented people, and the colleges, technical institutes and universities that are responsible for training and educating our students to take on those jobs.
We can work to create seamless, two-way channels between the innovation-driven industries who are trying to push the boundaries in their fields, and the institutions that have the facilities and the expertise to help them make it happen.
And we can identify new ways to align the interests and aspirations of our already established communities of technology leaders and conveners.
I look forward to meeting with the province’s innovators and innovation champions as soon as possible.
(You can find out more information about BC’s technology strategy at https://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca and the premier’s technology council at http://premierstechnologycouncil.ca). My statement regarding the appointment can be found here.)
Last week, I had the chance to see how innovation is thriving in BC’s Okanagan region when I attended a meeting of UBC Okanagan’s External Community Advisory Council. The council – comprised of business, government and community leaders in the Okanagan – meets regularly to provide input on strategic initiatives and identify opportunities for the Okanagan campus to establish critical links with the community. Ably led by co-chairs Deborah Buszard and Theresa Arsenault, it includes local mayors, entrepreneurs, and leaders of social agencies.
The meeting was an opportunity for members of the council to get to know me, but, just as important, it was a chance for me to get to know them and to listen to their concerns and ideas.
Universities are often thought of as being inwardly focused – concerned mainly with scholarship, research, and teaching. But universities are also part of a larger community. The UBC campus on Point Grey is a significant presence in the Lower Mainland, and the UBC campus in Kelowna has a perhaps even larger impact in the Okanagan. With close to 9,000 students and 1,000 faculty and staff, UBC-O has an annual economic impact of approximately $1.5 billion.
Our decisions – whether around planning, enrolment, research priorities or programs – affect the local community.
In the meeting, I heard about how important UBC-O is for the Okanagan. I listened to suggestions about what we should be teaching, how we should grow, how we should complement and enhance local initiatives. I was reminded of the important role post-secondary institutions play in shaping the future of the province and as partners in creating the ingredients for positive regional economic and social development.
I look forward to further engagement with the members of the External Advisory Committee and other friends of UBC in the Okanagan.
In closing, I’d like to wish you all the best for the Lunar New Year. Whether you prefer Gong Hay Fat Choy, Gong Xi Fa Cai Xin, Sae-hae bok mani badeusayo, Chúc mừng năm mới, Kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimas or Happy New Year, I wish you a prosperous and healthy Year of the Rooster.
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor