York takes the lead role in a new R & D consortium

York University has received funding from the Ontario government to lead a unique public-private partnership that will help fuel the economic development of the GTA’s creative and entertainment industries. The announcement was made yesterday by Ontario’s minister of culture

Above: Stan Shapson (left), York VP research & innovation; Caroline DiCocco, Ontario minister of culture; and Kevin Shea, Chair of Ontario Media Development Corporation. Photo by Michael Hudson.

The Consortium on New Media, Creative, and Entertainment R&D in the Toronto Region (CONCERT) has raised more than $500,000 in support from partner institutions and will now receive $300,000 in matching funds as part of the Ontario government’s Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund.

Founded in partnership with The Ontario College of Art & Design and Ryerson University, CONCERT now consists of more than 20 partners. The consortium will bring multinational, mid-sized and small companies in the entertainment, screen-based and other creative industries together with academia, government and industry associations to build a consensus on regional priorities.

“The matching funds provided to CONCERT through the province’s Entertainment and Creative Clusters Partnerships Fund are an important investment for the region,” said Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research & innovation and Chair of the CONCERT steering committee.

“Competitive pressures have placed the Toronto region at a critical juncture and CONCERT partners believe strongly that the region’s competitiveness is at risk and concerted, grassroots efforts, matched by government actions, are required immediately," said Shapson. "CONCERT will grow the region’s entertainment, screen-based and other innovation-driven creative industries into a globally competitive cluster, which will help the GTA capture a larger share of the very lucrative worldwide market.”

Patrick Crowe, co-president of partner organization Xenophile Media, said the Ontario media industry is facing a “looming innovation crisis.”

“We need a coordinated strategy if we are going to remain competitive,” Crowe said. “CONCERT will help transform research from across the province into practical and profitable commercial applications.”

The consortium will develop and release a regional plan in March 2008. The objectives of CONCERT are:

  • Determine regional priorities and a plan to achieve those through government investment, industry moves, and academic alignment;
  • Plan investments, target resources for strategic growth, and create a coherent process to help direct needed research that is focused and coordinated among academic institutions, and between academia and industry.
  • Strengthen links and working relationships between the research community and industry, and encourage the creation of linkages and the exchange of ideas/information among the academic community, private sector firms and associations, and government policymakers.
  • Pilot several industry/academia joint R&D projects.
  • Build research and development capacity and enhance the region’s ability to successfully access R&D funding.
  • Enhance the development/training, recruitment, and retention of highly-qualified people.
  • Build a sustainable long-term strategy.

"Motorola’s partnership with CONCERT shows our commitment to drive innovation and economic development in the GTA,” said Mike Hortie, president of Motorola Canada, a CONCERT partner organization. “We are excited by the consortium and the innovation that collectively we will be able to identify and deliver."

The three-year, $7.5 million Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnership Fund was launched in September 2006 to stimulate growth in Ontario’s entertainment and creative industries by promoting capacity building, marketing innovation and skills development. The Ontario government will also provide smaller cash injections to 13 other projects this year, for a total investment of $1.8 million in 2007.

CONCERT partners include:

Apple Canada
Association of Computer Animation Studios of Ontario (CASO)
Cinespace Film Studios
City of Toronto
George Brown College
Industry Canada
Motorola Canada
National Research Council – Institute for Information Technology
New Media Business Alliance (NMBA)
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)
Ontario Film and Television Studio Owners Association (OFTSOA)
Optical Regional Advanced Network of Ontario (ORANO)
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology
Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
Side Effects Software
Toronto Artscape
Town of Markham
University of Toronto’s Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI)
Xenophile Media

Visit the Ontario Media Development Corporation Web site for details.