In October last year, Medicine Hat College launched the Centre for Innovation (C4i). A resource for the business community, C4i connects industry with research expertise, new tools and technology and space they can utilize.
Manager Chelsey Ehresman says, “Lots of our businesses are small and medium sized so it doesn’t financially make sense for them to have research and development capacity inside their own organization. Applied research at colleges is filling that need so they can grow, adapt and change, but not have to pay for it in house.”
Funding options for applied research through the provincial and federal government can be explored and possibly paired with funding from industry.
“It’s not necessarily an all-free service. Depending on what they are working on, if it fits lots of priorities for the government, the funding options could be greater,” said Ehresman.
Kinetisense Motion Research Lab was the first to access space at MHC, located in the Cultural Centre, for testing. MHC biomechanics students take classes in that same space. This provides a nice crossover between education and industry with students getting to experience first-hand the tech side of health.
This year is a time to explore options and do lots of small projects to see what sticks. Digital health and health technology is one area of focus. Technology in age care is also of interest as society figures out how to support an aging population with fewer people available to work in the industry.
C4i is also exploring agricultural technology and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS or drones).
“My office is working alongside APEX Alberta and they are part of the regional innovation network and have funding through Alberta Innovates to do a study of RPAS in the province,” said Ehresman. “Looking at what is being offered in terms of research and training at colleges and what industry is using it, and where they expect to be using it in the next five to 10 years to see the gaps, where we need to support that industry as it grows.”
While health, agriculture and RPAS are the three big clusters being explored this year, projects are coming in from all over, whether it is carbon capture or new film technology.
“Lots of conversations are happening but I wouldn’t say we have a clear foot in any of them yet.”
Ehresman worked as the copyright specialist in the MHC library and has always been interested in innovation. She has a master’s in communication and technology and when this position came up, was excited to move in a new direction.
She is interested in talking to people in the region working with industry who want support to grow, innovate and change.
“I would love for them to reach out to me. It’s about building an economy here in southeast Alberta that will attract people to come to it and ensure we will prosper in the future.”
If you are interested in learning more, contact Ehresman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News