Red Deer College named a top provincial innovator

  • Aug. 21, 2013 4:20 p.m.

Red Deer College has landed on a list naming the province’s top innovative organizations.

Recently, RDC made the cut as one of Alberta’s Most Innovative Companies for the state-of-the-art Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing which opened in 2008. The recognition comes from Alberta Venture Magazine.

“We were surprised – just as surprised as anyone,” said Joel Ward, president of RDC. “It’s quite an honour to be singled out as one of the top 25 innovative organizations in the province. We are delighted of course.

“Our Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing is really what has been highlighted through this award. What we do in the Centre is connect ideas, people, processes and methods, but mostly we support continuous innovation for our region, and the economic, social and cultural growth of our community,” he explained.

“When we set up the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing, we combined the technical expertise that we’ve developed over many years with the creative side.

“So it’s the combination of the creative and design with the technical expertise that I think is being recognized as unique and innovative in the province. I think that’s what they saw as being very different. Imagine the creative arts in combination with technical expertise.”

And as Alberta Venture points out, the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing trains students and industry participants alike to design prototypes, rethink processes and ultimately create new and better products.

But the innovation isn’t just in the name – “It’s in creating a facility where industry, students and faculty interact through applied research,” notes the magazine’s web site. “There, they tackle industry’s real-world problems as teams, and several success stories have already resulted from the unique model.”

The Centre also supports the province’s manufacturing sector which needs skilled workers who know how to build things better.

“We have millions of dollars of equipment in that Centre, and many small and medium enterprises don’t have the capacity to take an idea or a concept, move it forward, design it and prototype it,” said Ward.

For example, RDC partnered with a Canadian doctor stationed in Afghanistan who noticed that stemming hemorrhages was often a leading cause of death and traumatic injury. “He came up with this idea of a trauma clamp. He came back (here), and he worked with us.” Eventually, a product was designed that has landed various prestigious awards.

“We do that kind of work in terms of supporting these companies and giving them access to our technology and design skill. It takes their great ideas and concepts to a place where they can take them for manufacturing and distribution world-wide.”

As Alberta Venture also explains, the emphasis on research and development is key to fueling economic growth. According to the web site, “Research in the Canadian private sector stands at just one per cent of GDP while in the United States the figure is double that.”

And that’s where RDC’s Red Deer’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing comes in, said Ward.

“If you take a look at what we offer – that amalgam of students, faculty, our technology, our great facilities and our expertise and then you bring in entrepreneurs – people with new ideas – we can be a sort of incubator for them,” he said. “We love to support their ideas and work with them. They are really the architects and designers; the initiators of these great ideas and we can add value and get them quicker to a place where they can see if that idea has any legs or not.

“So it involves research with our students, with our faculty and expertise from our technical folks and of course our great technology and facilities and equipment that we have that we make available to them.”

Others that made it into the top 25 list include a diverse range of corporations and organizations from Shell, Agri-Trend and the Calgary-based One Yellow Rabbit Theatre to the Canadian Rockies School Division and the City of Calgary.

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