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OCAD U partners with Richmond Hill & eCampusOntario to support companies in post-pandemic recovery

An arial photo of Richmond Hill with a mix of roads, cars, parking lots, grass and mid-rise buildings.
OCAD U partners with Richmond Hill and eCampusOntario to support companies in post-pandemic recovery 

OCAD University is partnering with the City of Richmond Hill and eCampusOntario to launch the Centre of Local Innovation and Collaboration (CLIC).  

This unique initiative will harness the business and design expertise of OCAD U students to accelerate post-pandemic recovery for local businesses in Richmond Hill. The new CLIC will also draw on resources from the city’s Small Business Enterprise Centre to help local businesses review operations through a design-thinking lens. 

Companies will work with OCAD University researchers to make market insights, identify service opportunities and develop potential new products. Business owners will then leverage these proposals to apply for research and development funding through various government partners. 
“This partnership exemplifies how strategic innovation design, human-centred processes and creativity are critical to business growth. OCAD U’s School of Continuing Studies and students and graduates of our acclaimed Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) program are excited to support the Richmond Hill business community,” says OCAD University President and Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano. 
Students enrolled in the innovative SFI graduate program at OCAD U come from a diversity of backgrounds as artists, entrepreneurs, social scientists and engineers. They learn how to manage organizational change by gaining design thinking skills that focus on enhancing business success and positively impacting society. 
Seventeen companies are currently piloting the business improvement program in Richmond Hill. Plans are underway to welcome additional companies in the future. 
“By partnering with a well-known educator like OCAD University we are providing businesses with an opportunity to tap into new expertise and creative thinking that can help accelerate business recovery and prosperity,” says Mayor of Richmond Hill David West. 
Richmond Hill is located north of Toronto and is one of Ontario’s fastest growing cities. Home to the largest telescope in Canada, it has a population of 200,000 that reports an annual income that is 34 per cent higher than the Canadian average. 
“We at OCAD University are dedicated to building partnerships across the GTA to power businesses and improve the lives of people within our communities as we recover from the pandemic,” President Serrano continues. 
The third partner in the initiative, eCampusOntario, is a non-profit organization that leads a consortium of the province’s publicly funded colleges, universities and Indigenous institutes that supports digital transformation and encourages innovation, collaboration and partnerships to connect Ontario’s campuses to the future of learning. 

“eCampusOntario is excited to partner with the City of Richmond Hill and OCAD University for this great opportunity. We are actively facilitating these types of engagements between Ontario businesses and higher education institutions to increase our competitive edge and support the province’s post-pandemic recovery," comments Robert Luke, CEO of eCampusOntario.

"These partnerships not only help businesses grow and invest in research and development, they provide valuable learning opportunities for students to directly contribute to strengthening Ontario’s economy,” he continues.