New Construction R&D Portal provides construction-relevant research in one place

Journal of Commerce | Angela Gismondi | November 10, 2020

A new initiative is aiming to help the country’s construction industry capitalize on the $14 billion of research that occurs at Canadian universities every year and advance innovation by providing access to the most up-to-date research available.

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has partnered with Cognit.ca to launch the Construction R&D Portal and the Construction R&D Showcase speaker series.

“This is the third initiative that we have rolled out under the innovation strategy, which is to help connect our industry members to the great research that is happening so they can be aware and they can hopefully tap into some of those great ideas, get to know the researchers and understand how they can maybe benefit from that,” explained CCA president Mary Van Buren.

The Construction R&D Portal allows construction leaders to view expertise, research, facilities and intellectual property that is occurring at post-secondary institutions across Canada. The Construction R&D Showcase series aims to link industry executives and researchers with discoveries that can help the industry explore and adopt new innovations.

“We have been reaching out as part of our strategy to broaden our outreach to academia and to colleges,” said Van Buren. “They (Cognit) started to talk about this new tool they were developing, not just for construction, it’s for all the research that the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities are doing, so that they can promote the great work they are doing.”

Cognit’s website features a database of research grants, experts, pieces of intellectual property, research infrastructure and research facilities for all industries. The construction portal zeroes in on the specific needs of the industry.

“When we showed it to the folks at the Canadian Construction Association, it quickly became clear that there were some opportunities…to take the step of bringing it right to industry’s doorstep and trying to ensure that this really large dataset actually helps the construction industry specifically understand the opportunity that exists and are relevant to their industry instead of lumping all the industries in together,” said Mike Matheson, managing director of Cognit.ca.

“What we tried to do with the Construction R&D Portal is really put a sharper focus on construction-relevant research, new findings that are being published day in and day out, projects that are construction industry relevant, to really make it as easy as possible for those in the construction industry to understand where the research capabilities are, where there might be some exciting opportunities to partner on research that would help move their businesses forward.”

Learning about innovations undertaken in academia has been a challenge for the industry, explained Van Buren. In addition, it can be difficult for researchers at the universities to showcase their research. The portal helps overcome those challenges and benefits all parties involved.

“For academia, it’s a way for them to get their work recognized, to get some more interest in it,” said Van Buren. “Universities are always looking for more funders, for ways to apply the knowledge, to test it. That’s a big benefit for them if they can partner with the industry to take their research to the next level.

“For industry it’s a way to see if there is an area they are particularly interested in,” added Van Buren. “We can see what research is being done and identify if there are any gaps, things that our members are telling us they would like to know more about.”

By making the information public, Cognit.ca is hoping to help Canadian businesses be more competitive and build a stronger economy.

“Competition is fierce both domestically and internationally and ensuring the construction industry is able to see and access that research means they can build the thinking into their future business plans, integrate cutting edge new innovations into their processes and provides businesses with a competitive advantage,” said Matheson.

“We’ve taken a process that could take up hours or days of an executives time and compressed it into something that can take seconds or minutes and I think that’s a huge advantage to the industry.”

The Construction R&D Portal can be accessed at cca-acc.com/construction-rd-portal/.