OCAD University’s Campus for the Connected World on Toronto’s waterfront will be an interdisciplinary zone for creative and disruptive design solutions to today’s urgent social, economic, technological and environmental challenges. It will situate design thinking, strategic foresight and digital media at the centre of emerging capabilities in Big Data, the IoT, clean technology and cognitive computing.
The CCW will enable industry and community leaders to partner and collaborate with student and faculty researchers from across OCAD U’s multidisciplinary programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The Campus for the Connected World will foster a flow of local, Canadian and international people, ideas and commerce through its seven principal activities:
- Business and industry
- Incubation and acceleration
- Experiential learning
These activities are central to the CCW, a facility that will generate viable innovation by connecting start-ups, scale-ups and companies at all scales that need to match design firms, legal and business services with students and faculty researchers.
A Design Service Bureau comprised of OCAD U faculty and students will support design excellence and user-centricity. Examples of design services include: data visualization, infographics and data materialization; 3D printing, model-making; wearable technology design; computational textiles and smart materials consulting; media production, including augmented and virtual reality; design thinking and other consulting; UI/UX design; app development; product design; and branding and advertising.
The CCW will support applied research with industry and will offer industry partners access to cutting-edge technology and new knowledge essential to competing in today’s emerging economy in big data. Industry will be able to access the Big Data Design Laboratory (BDDL) where applications with human, environmental, cultural, social and economic dimensions will be designed and created.
BDDL will use data sets provided by partners, building on the long-standing practices of OCAD U’s Visual Analytics Laboratory. Outcomes will have the potential to improve urban planning, create new market opportunities for cultural products, develop new designs and experiences and create new understandings of the Big Data phenomena.
The BDDL will also offer a unique interdisciplinary laboratory which will facilitate sharing of Big Data Design and creative application research and inventions across sectors in a highly collaborative manner adjacent to a technology incubator. This environment will accelerate the commercialization of research with significant opportunities for existing and new firms to bring strategic value to Ontario.
3. Incubation and Acceleration
The CCW will build on OCAD University’s history of expertise and leadership in translating student and faculty research projects into economically viable products, services and businesses. At its core will be the Imagination Catalyst entrepreneurship hub, a provincially and privately funded suite of programs that support research commercialization and new business development. Programs include design services, a campus business incubator, a seed fund established in 2014 with a $1-million investment from Relay Ventures, Scotiabank’s Design Thinking Studio, IBM’s Design Thinking incubation program, as well as DesignJam tools and workshops and OCAD U-generated companies.
The CCW will welcome start-ups and scale-ups that need design-centric talent to thrive. More established companies will be able to rent the space to sprint on projects — for example, companies can send out a team to use the space for a designated period of time as a way of tackling a specific challenge and accelerating development. Or, existing companies might send teams to ‘act’ like a start-up and/or make connections to start-ups, allowing them to tackle a problem in a different way.
The CCW will house a Data Materialization maker lab for fabrication and experimentation; maker benches and necessary materials and tools; 3D printing; and a sophisticated usability testing capacity. The Big Data Design Laboratory will provide state-of-the-art mobile and media production equipment, including a sound-recording lab and augmented and virtual reality game and mobile laboratories. These industry-focused facilities will support the design and development of new products and services for rapid and iterative prototyping and market entry.
The CCW will also hold world-class studio spaces. These experiential learning-and-making spaces will provide fundamental tools that support a design-focused incubation and acceleration environment. High-speed networks will ensure connectivity points for Big Data manipulation and analysis throughout the facility. Additionally, Phase 1 of the CCW is adjacent to the Artscape Launchpad, a creative industries incubator and co-working space, and permeability will be developed between the two environments.
As well, OCAD University will lease office space and laboratory access to key companies that overlap with the university’s strengths. Plans for small-scale retail, fabrication and manufacturing capacities will mutually benefit local businesses and the university.
Experiential learning spaces at the CCW will provide companies with the opportunity to access and hire emerging talent and students with opportunities to learn and practice skills and competencies in industry contexts. Students will be able to develop marketable projects in partnership with industry partners and researchers in Canada and abroad. A flexible and interdisciplinary suite of residencies, incubators and internships will ensure that students develop professional skills and expand their networks as they enter into communities of professional practice.
The CCW will be an open-concept space able to accommodate installations, exhibitions, presentations and demonstrations by resident companies, collaborators and OCAD U community members. The facility will incorporate professional and customized presentation facilities, including a gallery space for large-scale installations and feature projects; a commercial gallery for industry partners and incubator projects; mobile external exhibition capacity for work that can be presented on the larger site. Digital and physical presentation surfaces will be integrated along a circulation tract throughout the entire facility, enabling presentations, performances and demonstrations.
The CCW will include meeting and social spaces to facilitate working relationships among industry and professionals from different sectors with students and researchers. CCW residents will have access to dedicated meeting and breakout rooms, and they will also be able to reconfigure space to suit their needs through movable partitions, modular furniture and flexible design components intended to maximize space and foster dynamic social interactions. The open design and presentation capacities the CCW will be well-suited for hosting industry, cultural and educational gatherings, including symposia, presentations and panel discussions.