Research event raises key issues of funding, productivity and impact

Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning. Photo courtesy of SickKids

Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning. Photo courtesy of SickKids

The Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) held an Ontario conference with the theme of Funding, Productivity and Impact. The event took place on Nov. 16 and 17, and with close to 200 participants, it was one of the largest regional CARA conferences.

Hosted by the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), CARA was held in the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, a setting well-known in the research and health care sector for its innovation and engagement. It was co-chaired by David Phipps, executive director, research & innovation services, and Angela Zeno, manager, research accounting, both of York University.

David Phipps (left) with Angela Zeno

David Phipps (left) with Angela Zeno

“This event was an important opportunity for York research administration to build their skills to better serve the needs of researchers in an increasing diverse and continually changing research funding landscape. For York, recognition among our peers that we can lead such a key conference speaks to the quality of our services to researchers,” said Phipps.

Event offered unique opportunity for academic and hospital research entities to collaborate, learn from each other

This two-day event was unique in that it sought to be a joint, collaborative venture where university, hospital and college research entities were equal participants. It offered an opportunity for regional research administrators to interact with notable individuals tasked with the administration of complex research operations. Steering committee members were SickKids, Seneca College, Ryerson University, George Brown College, OCAD University and York University.

“Our landscape is changing,” Phipps said in his remarks. “The scope of research administration at universities, colleges and hospitals is increasing. Our roles are broadening beyond funding to include productivity such as research outputs – I refer, here, to scopus, SciVal and PlumX data in our applications to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC); the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF); and the National Centres of Excellence (NCE).”

In this context, impact is becoming increasingly important. The impact that research makes on the economy, society, health, culture and the environment. This includes including knowledge mobilization and commercialization strategies in grant applications and end-of-grant reporting. “Simply put, researchers need funding to be productive. Researchers need to be productive to have an impact. Research administrators must support them all,” Phipps said.

Conference included key information sessions and updates from CIHR, OBI, NSERC, OCE and more

Conference events on Nov. 16 included a Tri-agency update by Karine St-Amour, deputy director, compliance of transfer Payments Programs; and Pierre Cote, manager, Financial Operations & Procurement, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The conference also included a presentation on the Role of Research Administrators in Enabling Big Data Initiatives by Christa Studzinski, manager, Research Programs, Ontario Brain Institute (OBI).

Participants had the chance to learn about updates from Ontario funders the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Ontario (NSERC); OBI; Smart Computing for Innovation (SOSCIP); the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE); and the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI).

Second day highlighted by VP Panel: Seneca, George Brown, OCAD University, SickKids, and York University

Nov. 17 featured a Partnership Vice President’s Panel, which included Moderator Vanessa Williamson, dean, Applied Research & Innovation, Seneca College; Dawn Davidson, associate vice-president, Research & Innovations, George Brown College; Robert Luke, vice-president, Research & Innovation, OCAD University; Rulan Parekh, associate chief clinical research, Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute; and York University’s Robert Haché, vice-president Research & Innovation.

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