York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit wins Best Practice Award

The following story appeared in York University’s YFile on June 12, 2012.  It is reposted here with permission. 

On June 12, 2012, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit received the Knowledge Economy Network Best Practice Award from the European-based Knowledge Economy Network (KEN). The award, which was part of a group announced by the network was presented during the network’s annual forum, which took place June 11 and 12, in Maribor, Slovenia.

KEN is an European nonprofit association that acts as a “network of 16 European regions and countries, interested in boosting their knowledge-based competitiveness, exchanging good practice, encouraging collaboration and implementing new knowledge into innovative products in response to a larger, global need to enhance and support efforts to build knowledge economy, not only at European, but at a truly international level.”

In addition to national level awards recognizing innovation in the four domains of education, research & development, innovation, entrepreneurship, plus one media award, the three Best Practice Awards announced this year went to:

  • European Affairs Fund, AP Vojvodina, based in Serbia, which KEN described as “an example of good practice in multicultural education”
  • Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University, which was cited by the network as ”an example of good practice of a new scheme run by the University and involving all triple helix [government, community and industry] partners”
  • South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, based in Croatia, which KEN highlighted as ”an example of good practice in successful regional cooperation in training and education”

“This recognition from a European agency is testament to the growing international reputation that York is gaining for its work in knowledge mobilization,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “Knowledge mobilization connects researchers and students with partners, so that their research and expertise can be applied to real-world challenges, in addition to helping to inform decisions about public policy and social services.”

Under the leadership of David Phipps, director of research services & knowledge exchange in York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, the unit has been developing and delivering knowledge mobilization services to faculty, students and their research partners since 2006. The unit has received funding from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Working with 240 faculty, 142 students and 205 partner organizations, the Knowledge Mobilization Unit has brokered more than 250 collaborations between the academy and non-academic partners. These partnerships have attracted more than $1 million in sponsored research funding specifically for York research, and over $1 million in funding for community partners.

Michael Johnny, manager of the Knowledge Mobilization Unit, supports all large-scale grant applications, which in turn has secured over $17 million in external research support for York faculty and their partners. Some of these collaborations are maturing into social innovations that help find new ways to address persistent social and economic challenges.

  • In 2009 Nottawasaga Futures, a nonprofit community development agency, called York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit to help a rural business in making green decisions. The collaboration helped launch the Green Economy Centre.
  • York supported a collaboration between graduate student Tanya Gulliver and the Parkdale Activity & Recreation Centre in 2007. Research conducted by this partnership is now helping to inform Toronto’s Heat Registry Manual, which will assist more than 2.5-million people cope in an increasingly warming world.
  • When the Regional Municipality of York called the Knowledge Mobilization Unit to seek support in evaluating how they delivered services to immigrants, York supported a collaboration between two faculty members and municipal policy-makers. The evaluation undertaken provided evidence to the regional government, which in turn informed the region’s decision to invest more than $20 million to expand the Welcome Centre program. The investment created 86 jobs and provided 48,000 services to new Canadians living and working in York Region, which is home to Canada’s fastest-growing newcomer population.

“Knowledge mobilization identifies and supports these collaborations,” said Phipps. “The Welcome Centres, Heat Registry and Green Economy Centre are examples of social innovation.”

As a result of these and other stories of the impact of research, Phipps is widely sought as a speaker on York’s model for knowledge mobilization, which is increasingly becoming recognized as a critical component of engaged scholarship and learning.

To watch Phipps’ acceptance speech for the Economy Network Best Practice Award, click here.