Nemy Banthia, CEO and Scientific Director of IC-IMPACTS, and Professor K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisory to the Government of India shown at the Special Session on IC-IMPACTS as Gateway to India, Innovation, and Economic Development

On June 13, 2018, K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India (Prime Minister Modi), was the first keynote speaker to address attendees at the Special Session, reflecting on the strength of IC-IMPACTS’ bilateral model of collaboration and role as a gateway to India and future opportunities for India-Canada partnerships.

Hosted at the Cecil Green Park House on UBC Vancouver Campus, the event brought together NCEs, industry, universities, NGOs, and government representatives for the purpose of exploring opportunities to scale up international economic development opportunities through IC-IMPACTS in its role as a gateway to India.

These ideas were initially broached at the NCE Annual Meeting 2018 in March, where IC-IMPACTS appealed to NCEs seeking collaborations with India to consider approaching IC-IMPACTS to develop research partnerships and explore opportunities to disseminate technologies in India.

Setting the stage for future opportunities

Nemy Banthia, CEO and Scientific Director of IC-IMPACTS, and Barj Dhahan, Board Chair of IC-IMPACTS, at the Special Session on IC-IMPACTS as a Gateway to India, Innovation, and Economic Development
Left: Barj Dhahan, Board Chair, IC-IMPACTS. Right: Nemy Banthia, CEO and Scientific Director, IC-IMPACTS

IC-IMPACTS Board Chair Barj Dhahan welcomed attendees and advocated stronger India-Canada ties in the areas of science and technology as a way to face challenges and solve real-world problems in both countries.

CEO and Scientific Director of IC-IMPACTS Nemy Banthia outlined the successes of the centre in the first five years and the achievement of matching funding and equal participation by Canada and India. Banthia reflected on where IC-IMPACTS is headed in the next five years, discussed upcoming projects with a focus on First Nations communities and expanding partnerships with Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCEs).

Whatever research comes out of the [IC-IMPACTS] research program actually gets deployed into communities. And that’s our strength. That’s our signature strategy… putting those data out there and helping communities in terms of bringing those research findings into solving everyday problems. —Dr. Nemy Banthia

Focusing on First Nations

Banthia outlined two new calls for proposals to solve common problems facing Canada and India. One is a collaboration with the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) on improving occupant survivability of buildings during fires. This is of particular concern as people in First Nations Communities are ten times more susceptible to die in house fires than the population at large.

A second is a collaboration with the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and IIT (BHU) Varanasi on rejuvenating a stretch of the Ganga River in Varanasi. Any IC-IMPACTS technologies used to treat Ganga River in Varanasi will be used in a parallel body of water in Canada’s First Nations Communities.

In addition to launching these joint calls for proposals, IC-IMPACTS will be hosting a focus group in Ottawa on resilient housing in First Nations communities in July 2018. Planned with the Assembly of First Nations and supported by UBC Applied Science, this focus group will lead to a call for proposals on smart, resilient housing technology in First Nations communities.

Expanding partnerships with NCEs

Bill Barrable, CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute, at the podium in front of an audience at IC-IMPACTS Gateway to India, Innovation, and Economic Development
Bill Barrable, CEO, Rick Hansen Institute

These First Nations initiatives are in keeping with the role that IC-IMPACTS aims to expand: as a gateway for NCEs and other centres to Indian partnerships and international commercial development.

This role has already borne fruit: after the NCE Annual Meeting 2018 in March, the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI) approached IC-IMPACTS about forming partnerships with Indian spinal cord research institutes. The organizations have since formed a partnership with the Indian Spinal Injury Centre, whose aim is to improve the lives of those with mobility challenges. IC-IMPACTS is also developing a collaboration with the Kids Brain Health Network, a Network of Centres of Excellence hosted at UBC, to bring their technology to Indian communities.

Mobilizing IC-IMPACTS strengths

Four keynote speakers from Canada addressed attendees, bringing new ideas forward to strengthen opportunities for IC-IMPACTS partnerships with India and to find avenues to bring research innovations to market. These speakers were:

  • His Excellency Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada
  • Gail Murphy, VP Research and Innovation, UBC
  • Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation
  • Alfred LeBlanc, VP Communication, Corporate & International Affair8s, NSERC

Creating opportunities: IC-IMPACTS as a catalyst for improving trade and enhancing lives

Arvind Gupta, Professor of Computer Science, UBC, and IC-IMPACTS Board Member moderating panel on IC-IMPACTS as Gateway to India, Innovation, and Economic Development with seated panelists Christian Hansen (Regional Director and Senior Trade Commissioner for the Pacific Regional Office of Global Affairs Canada), Bill Barrable (CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute), Ravi Sinha (Professor, Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay), and Alfred LeBlanc (VP Communication, Corporate & International Affairs, NSERC)
Arvind Gupta (at podium) moderated panel with (left to right) Christian Hansen, Bill Barrable, Ravi Sinha, and Alfred LeBlanc

Two panels followed the keynote speakers: one on finding opportunities to scale up economic development opportunities in India with NCEs and other research centres and the other on mobilizing Canada-India strengths to address social and economic challenges.

Arvind Gupta, Professor in Computer Science at UBC, moderated the first panel, which featured the following panellists:

  • Christian Hansen (Regional Director and Senior Trade Commissioner for the Pacific Regional Office of Global Affairs Canada)
  • Bill Barrable (CEO, Rick Hansen Institute)
  • Ravi Sinha (Professor, Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay)
  • Alfred LeBlanc (VP Communication, Corporate & International Affairs, NSERC)

After dynamic presentations, Gupta direct questions to the panellists, who offered ideas on improving trade and co-innovations that could improve the lives of people in Canada and India. While IC-IMPACTS has a successful track record of training HQP, developing innovations, creating patents, and launching start-up companies, there was broad agreement among panellists that one area that could be strengthened was commercializing innovations that result from research projects.

Shapoor Marfatia, COO, IC-IMPACTS, as key in mobilizing Canada-India strengths to address social and economic challenges with seated panelists P.K. Singh (Professor and Head, Civil Engineering, IIT Varanasi), Gautam Shroff (VP, Chief Scientists and Head of TCS Research), Rickey Yada (Dean, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC), and Joy Johnson (VP Research and International SFU)
Shapoor Marfatia moderated panel with (left to right) P.K. Singh, Gautam Shroff, Rickey Yada, and Joy Johnson

Mobilizing Canada-India strengths to address social and economic challenges was the topic for the second panel of the day. Moderated by Shapoor Marfatia, COO of IC-IMPACTS, the panel featured four speakers:

  • Joy Johnson (VP Research and International, SFU)
  • Rickey Yada (Dean, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC)
  • P.K. Singh (Professor and Head, Civil Engineering, IIT Varanasi)
  • Gautam Shroff (VP, Chief Scientists and Head of TCS Research)

The Special Session was a great success, prompting an exploration of new opportunities with NCEs and others to advance international economic development with India. The range and diversity of speakers and participants all served to contribute to dynamic discussions and opportunities for future partnerships. IC-IMPACTS would like to thank all attendees for their participation.

Attendees of the June 13, 2018 Special Session of IC-IMPACTS— Gateway to India, Innovation, and Economic Development stand on steps at Cecil Green Park House at the UBC Vancouver Campus
Attendees of the June 13, 2018 Special Session of IC-IMPACTS as a Gateway to India, Innovation, and Economic Development (at Cecil Green Park House at the UBC Vancouver Campus)