Red Deer College’s new director of applied research and innovation says universities no longer hold the key to unlocking innovation.
Naveen Anand said RDC has already developed a niche in prototyping and machining, as well as health research.
“It is now being recognized that colleges are great sources of innovation, especially when it relates to problems which exist in communities and societies around them,” Anand said.
“Red Deer College is known for good customer service, being able to help small and medium-sized enterprises which we have a lot of here in Central Alberta. It’s also known for prototyping with 3D printing and machining which is what industry requires.”
Anand, who has worked as a research scientist, consultant and executive, with the universities of Windsor, McGill, Saskatchewan and Northern British Columbia and in the private sector, said Canada is very good at early stage research, but not so good at translating it into practical solutions.
He said one reason he is at RDC is to be at a college to work on practical solutions that are applicable to regions like Central Alberta. There is an opportunity to think of oil as something other than what goes into a tank.
“It’s also a source of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are the building block of everything we use from clothes, to fences, to houses. There’s a whole gamut of stuff. If we change our paradigm thinking, and that’s what innovation is, I think we’ll be able to diversify our economy.”
And applying the skills of oil field workers, like welding to build big rigs, to construction in other sectors, is another exciting possibility that can be pursued at the college, he said.
“Innovation happens at the college in every facet, the question is how do you capture, how do you bring it up, and how do you use it for the benefit of society. That’s what interests me.”
He said Red Deer College has partners, like the province, which is supporting post-secondary institutions to the extent that it can under current circumstances.
“(The province) has realized this is probably the engine of future transformation and growth so they have invested in the sector which I find very refreshing.”
Red Deer will also turn to other colleges to access skills that will compliment the work at RDC, Anand said.
“We can’t own everything. We can’t hire everybody on a limited budget. But by following these kinds of strategic partnerships, we’ll get somewhere. Stay tuned.”