Memorial University represents an important case study of stimulating ocean-related innovation in a small, resource-based economy through engagement and collaboration with private-sector actors and government institutions. As a comprehensive university with more than 19,500 students and 5,200 faculty and staff from more than 115 countries who engage in research, education and training6 and public engagement, the university has long held a special obligation to the people of the province. As Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university, its largest campus is located in the provincial capital of St. John’s, with five additional campuses, including Corner Brook (Grenfell) and Goose Bay-Happy Valley, Labrador (Figure 6). In recent decades, Memorial University has helped to promote transformative, knowledge-based innovation with a particular focus on ocean technology and ocean-related industries. The university has fostered ocean technology start-ups, conducted ocean-focused research and trained graduates who have contributed to relevant sectors like offshore petroleum, fisheries, marine transport, and other aspects of the ocean economy.
A wide range of ocean-related activities, campuses, institutes, and entities that are connected to Memorial University (such as the Marine Institute (MI), C-Core and the Genesis incubator, among others) undertake research and support business ormation and development to solve specific challenges related to offshore industries, as well as to better understand their impacts on coastal communities and the natural environment. This comprehensive and supportive role is evident in the fact that over 40% of the research undertaken at Memorial is ocean-focused.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador nevertheless faces a series of challenges that may hinder innovation:8 the province’s population is small, declining, ageing and geographically dispersed; the make-up of the business environment is uneven, featuring a handful of large, mostly foreign-based multinational corporations in capital-intensive industries as well as small, locally owned businesses; in recent years, provincial spending has consistently exceeded revenues, which is largely dependent on commodity prices like oil.
These innovation-related challenges combine to increase expectations on Memorial University to act as a comprehensive driver of innovation, to increase the province’s human capital stock and to generate economic spin-offs. This report, with support and guidance from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Entrepreneurial Education, Collaboration and Engagement (EECOLE) network, identifies how Memorial University encourages innovation in ocean-related sectors to meet the needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
This report serves as background to an OECD final report focused on ways that place- based research has occurred through Memorial University’s Public Engagement activities and approaches to generate social and economic value in the province where it is located.
The final report will be presented to an international audience of policymakers, higher education leaders and academics in the final months of 2022. This background report is divided into two broad sections. The first provides an overview of several key innovation-related challenges that Newfoundland and Labrador faces. The second section introduces Memorial University, its unique history and obligation to the people, its activities relating to the ocean economy and more recently its role in the Canadian federal government’s ‘Ocean Supercluster’ initiative.
You can read the full report here.
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - Department of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET)
City of St. John’s
Memorial University Office of Public Engagement (OPE)