The Most Influential Knowledge Broker in Canada

The following blog story was first published on the United Way York Region blog on November 22, 2011. It is reposted here with permission.

In a recent bulletin from York University, David Phipps, who is the director of York University’s Research Services and Knowledge Exchange, was named the most influential knowledge broker in Canada. We’re lucky enough to be able to work with David as part of our partnership with York University.

David received his Ph.D. in Immunology from Queen’s University and has built a career managing academic research at the University of Toronto Innovations Foundation, Canadian Arthritis Network and Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In 2001, he completed his MBA from the Rotman School of Management at U of T. In his current role at York, David manages all research grants and contracts, including knowledge and technology transfer.

David is also leading York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit that provides services to researchers, community organizations and government agencies who want to use policy and practice related research to inform public policy.

Working in partnership with United Way of York Region provides community credibility to the brokering efforts of York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

Both partners act as mutual knowledge brokers to bridge the academic and community sectors to support knowledge translation (KT) activities so that university research and expertise can inform community level health related policies and practices. Through this collaboration, York Region residents and vulnerable populations can receive health and human services that are informed by academic research.

The partnership also includes the hiring of a Knowledge Mobilization Officer, who was recently employed to work on site at United Way to develop research initiatives that will examine how living conditions (the social determinants of health) affect health. Jane Wedlock is currently working in this role, which will certainly enhance the partnership’s overall goal to inform and support the public across the region.

Of the partnership, David notes that UWYR provides a valuable community perspective to the research and knowledge mobilization activities of York University. “In order to be relevant to York Region we need to ground our work in the experience of York Region. UWYR is the principle community convener in York Region. Our partnership with UWYR is invaluable in our efforts to be York Region’s research university.”

Doing something that matters is what David says brings him the greatest satisfaction from his involvement with United Way. “Research is important but isn’t valuable unless it’s engaged with people and organizations who can take that research and apply it to more effective social programs and more responsive public and community policies,” he adds. “Our partnership with UWYR helps make York University’s research matter.”

CU Expo 2011, May 10-14, 2011 / CU Expo 2011, du 10 au 14 mai 2011

We are excited to announce the upcoming CU Expo 2011 taking place in Waterloo this May, which will focus on Community-University Partnerships: Bringing global perspectives to local action. ResearchImpact will be leading a session on tools for knowledge mobilization on Friday, May 13th- hope to see you there!

Nous avons le plaisir de vous annoncer la tenue prochaine de la conférence CU Expo 2011. Cet événement aura lieu en mai, à Waterloo, et portera principalement sur les partenariats milieu-université, des perspectives globales à l’action locale. Le Réseau Impact Recherche organisera à cette occasion un atelier sur les outils de mobilisation des connaissances le vendredi 13 mai. Au plaisir de vous y voir!

CU Expo 2011 is a Canadian-led conference designed to showcase the exemplars in Community-University partnerships worldwide, and together to introduce creative ways of strengthening our local communities.

The conference is expected to draw over 800 people from Canada and around the world who are passionate about the power of community-university partnerships as a vehicle for social change. Students, community leaders, researchers, educators, funders, policy makers and others invested in community-building will be in attendance.

The CU Expo movement began in Canada as a response to individuals involved community-university partnerships needing a forum to share experiences, strategies and ideas. CU Expo 2011 will address the conference objectives, themes and streams through a variety of session offerings and opportunities for dialogue.

CU Expo 2011 will be held at Wilfrid Laurier University and throughout the Waterloo Region community from May 10 to 14, 2011.

Check out the programming schedule here.  Click here to register.

York University Climate Change Policy and Research Day

This is an invitation to an upcoming event as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project.

You are warmly invited to take part in the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. The goal of this event is to profile some of the climate change related work being done at the municipal and regional level, have a discussion on the existing research gaps and needs, and explore opportunities for collaboration between local policy makers and York researchers.

Presenters from the City of Toronto; the Regions of York, Durham, and Peel; Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; and the Weather Water Gateway project will be joined by a panel of York faculty members with research expertise and interest in climate change related topics.

This event will also allow graduate students to hear from policymakers about potential career paths and speak to them directly about the Climate Change summer internships being offered by York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. To get full details about the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change Internship competition, please go to this link.

Date: March 1st, 2011

Time: 8:30am-3:00pm

Location: Harry Crowe Room, 109 Atkinson

York University

For full details of scheduled activities, please see the event agenda by accessing the following link. Seating is limited. Please register for your ticket by going to the following Eventbrite link. Breakfast and lunch will be served.This event is generously supported by funds from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Partnership Practices Call for Posters

Shawna Reibling (ResearchImpact – Guelph) announces a call for posters for the upcoming Partnership Practices: Working with Community, Industry and Government event. See below for full details:

As a new mobilizer at the University of Guelph, I want to get to know the projects, ideas and practices, especially in the area of partnerships, that are on-going within the Colleges and Departments on campus.

Therefore, I am lucky enough to be involved in the Partnership Practices: Working with Community, Industry and Government event. As industry, community, government and university researchers work together in various ways to address complex issues, the need to learn from examples of successful partnership structures, processes, and outcomes, as well as examine challenges and outcomes of complex research collaborations is evident.

We invite poster submissions that have a link to the University of Guelph and have a strong partner, industry or community focus, identify strategies in partnership skills, structure and processes, and will provide clear understanding of the management and outcomes of their work. I hope that many people will submit posters by January 22nd, however please email me if you need an extension:

As an extra bonus to allow people who maybe have not submitted a poster before, assistance will be available to selected submissions to produce the final poster. The full call for proposals is available at

Hosts and Sponsors

This event is hosted by the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES), the Business Development Office (BDO) and Co-operators Centre for Business and Social Entrepreneurship (CBASE) at the University of Guelph. It is supported by the Agri-Food and Rural Link KTT program, funded under the OMAFRA-U of G Partnership.

ResearchImpact puts the “social” in “innovation”

York KMb Unit recently presented at a national conference of university-industry knowledge brokers. Unique to the conference agenda York presented new thinking on gaps in Canada’s innovation agenda. Take home message: It’s time to put the social in innovation. But we’re not sure they will let David dance next year.

Innovation in research lingo is most often associated with advancements in science and technology and between university and industry partners to support economic prosperity through new products and services. Historic investments in research and development within Canada have reinforced this. So, it was interesting (and encouraging) to see ACCT Canada (the Alliance for the Commercialization of Canadian Technology) set Mobilization as one of its thematic pillars for their recent annual Innovation 2010 conference in Ottawa. The other two pillars were Connect and Collaborate. And with an opportunity to introduce ResearchImpact, and share the leadership York University has demonstrated in advancing an innovation agenda to support social innovation, David Phipps and Michael Johnny ventured north for three days of workshops, plenary panels and networking.

Make no mistake; this is not the traditional audience for ResearchImpact to demonstrate its services as a national network of university-led knowledge mobilization units. All the more reason to be there! With almost 700 registrants present from across Canada and throughout the world, it was a traditional conference for industry liaison offices, technology transfer offices, other professionals and leaders in the university-industry innovation sector. And York University was well represented. Michael Johnny and David Phipps worked the ResearchImpact booth to educate and inform registrants of the work Canadian universities are developing in areas of social innovation through dedicated knowledge mobilization units. We also welcomed Caroline Roger of ResearchImpact-ReseauImpactRecherche (UQAM) at the conference. In one workshop, SSHRC President Chad Gaffield, Innovator Gerri Sinclair, and York Vice President Research and Innovation Stan Shapson shared their experiences and vision toward developing a more comprehensive innovation agenda for Canada. An innovation agenda that embraced social innovation as well as innovation for the service industries. This session was moderated by David Phipps. Dr. Phipps did double duty, serving as a plenary speaker in a panel moderated by Knowledge Mobilization consultant Peter Levesque ( titled, ‘Beyond Commercialization: Turning Research into Action’. This panel also featured Yolande Chan ( and Bernadette Conant (

It was exciting to see efforts around social innovation being well received. This was an extremely important investment for ResearchImpact, a network that continues to be seen as a national leader in knowledge mobilization. With mobilization as one of the central pillars of the conference, it was worthwhile to share the message of social innovation being a critical aspect of Canada’s innovation agenda.


Here’s a summary of our metrics:


• Meaningful Conversations at the ResearchImpact booth – 25
• People present to hear Drs. Gaffield, Shapson and Sinclair speak about Social Innovation – 45
• People present to hear Dr. Phipps speak on a panel about Turning Research Into Action – 55 (not bad for last session of the conference!)
• David Phipps’ Dangerous Dancing Reputation – priceless

Playing in the KMb Climate Change Sandbox

Here are some fresh updates about the ‘KMb for Climate Change’ project. We have discovered that, when you build a sandbox for researchers and policymakers to work together, chances are, they will come and play!

November has been an exciting month for the SSHRC sponsored ‘KMb for Climate Change’ project, as we are now half a year old!  We are very excited about the level of enthusiasm and engagement from all project participants. The past two weeks demonstrate just how much the project has started to pick up momentum.

Last week, we held a project update meeting with our policy partners. The meeting included Karen Kraft Sloan, who is the Principal Investigator for the research project, along with David Phipps, the co Principal Investigator. We were also happy to be joined by Stewart Dutfield, our climate change colleague who is the Communications Manager for the Climate Consortium for Research Action and Integration (CCRAI). The meeting gave us a chance to profile some of the work already done on the project. Three of the highlights include:

  • Running a successful competition to hire a recent York Masters graduate for a Researcher position with the Region of Peel to study the economic opportunities and threats posed by climate change.
  • The completion of 15 ResearchSnapshots based on climate change related publications by York faculty members.
  • Organizing a KM in the AM in partnership with The Gateway Project and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).

We were also able to speak in more detail about developments on the horizon for the project. Some great ideas were exchanged, including the plan to develop policy relevant case studies and organizing panel discussions on climate related topics most relevant to a given policy partner.

This week on Nov 9th, we held our first KM in the AM for the project. The event focused on the topic of: Climate Change Risks to Storm Water Management. It proved to be an exciting and well-attended event. Held in the Archetype Sustainable House at the Kortright Centre, this KM in the AM was co-led by the Gateway Project, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, and TRCA. The KM in the AM featured presentations by the Dr. Quentin Chiotti (Gateway), Ryan Ness (TRCA), and Dr. Kaz Higuchi (York University/Environment Canada). The event was attended by municipal stormwater engineers as well as staff from our project’s partner municipalities.

“It is important for those of us in the physical sciences to understand the scientific needs of the stakeholders, particularly in such a socio-economically important field as climate change” said Dr. Kaz Higuchi, who did a presentation on climate modelling at the event. Dr. Higuchi is an Environment Canada Scientist and an Adjunct Professor at York (see his faculty profile here). You may see slides from Dr. Higuchi’s presentation here: Kortright Centre Presentation (Nov 2010).

Our goal has been to develop a space where ideas may be exchanged and research collaboration may happen between York researchers and municipal policymakers in the area of climate change. We informally call this space the ‘Climate Change KMb sandbox’. We are really excited that our partners are starting to come and play in this sandbox and want to continue its growth and development.

Knowledge Translation and Transfer at U Guelph and OMAFRA

ResearchImpact is pleased to welcome this contribution from our KMb colleagues at OMAFRA and University of Guelph. UGeulph and OMAFRA are collaborating on a program of knowledge translation and transfer (KTT). This work complements the work of the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship who are part of the ResearchImpact network. This piece first appeared in the OMAFRA-University of Guelph Research Yearbook. Thanks to Guelph for permission to re-post this piece authored by Alycia Moore. To all our friends in Guelph – welcome to Mobilize this!

The University of Guelph has a long history of working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the forefront of research and agricultural knowledge extension.

“It’s essential to get this research out to where it’s most useful,” says Bronwynne Wilton, who along with Evelyn Allen, joined the OMAFRA-U of G Partnership management group this year as knowledge mobilization program managers, popularly called “knowledge brokers.” In these roles, they manage Agri-Food and Rural Link, a hub for knowledge translation and transfer at the university.

One of their key responsibilities is matching the appropriate researchers with stakeholders who can use research results. That service is just one example of a wide range of knowledge translation and transfer (KTT) activities that accelerate the transfer of knowledge into use.

KTT, an important component of the partnership, also emphasizes the importance of demand-driven research, in what OMAFRA research analyst Elin Gwyn describes as a “push-pull knowledge exchange.” Stakeholders’ needs determine the research that needs to be done, while researchers disseminate the information using a variety of unique communication channels.

OMAFRA research analyst Duff MacKinnon says stakeholder engagement is essential for effective KTT program formation. “That includes setting research priorities and incorporating user involvement throughout the entire research process,” he says.

One of Agri-Food and Rural Link’s main programs is a call for project proposals for new KTT initiatives. This program is expected to lead to increased collaboration and communication between researchers, industry and the wider community, as they use KTT principles to reach out to audiences through established knowledge transfer methods as well as in innovative and unexpected ways.

The call is open to all OMAFRA and University of Guelph staff and faculty members, although collaboration with other universities, industry groups and businesses is encouraged. There will be calls for proposals three times this year.

“The Agri-Food and Rural Link program will improve the accessibility of research knowledge outside the traditional academic community,” says Wilton.

Mobilizing Minds Community Partnership Forum

What happens when community groups learn about young adult engagement and about research and knowledge mobilization? Mobilizing Minds: pathways to young adult mental health engaged community partners to bring community agencies and advocates into the Mobilizing Minds project and inform them about engaging youth in their own organizations. Young adults need a voice in mental health agencies. Community partners need a voice in research.

Mobilizing Minds is a $1.5M CIHR/MHCC funded knowledge mobilization grant that pairs young adults with adult researchers and seeks to develop knowledge tools and products that are derived from academic research but presented in the right format, at the right time, to the right people to inform decisions about mental health. Tara Syed (young adult leader) and Jenn McPhee (project coordinator) along with their community partner Mind Your Mind hosted 21 people from 16 community agencies in a conversation about youth engagement and getting involved in KMb for mental health. The half day event was held at York University on October 27, 2010.

You can see a mash up of all the Mobilizing Minds Community partner logos and photos from the event are posted here.

Before you do anything check out the overview video produced by a few of Mobilizing Minds young adult leaders…and make sure you stick around to see Mark Leonhart’s bloopers (after his expert use of the word “mobilize”). The video provides a great overview of the project from the perspective of young adults.

After Jenn and Tara described the project and the community members got a brief overview of KMb by David Phipps. The group also heard a keynote by David Kelly, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs and Member of the Minister’s Advisory Group for Mental Health and Addictions. The group then got down to work. They discussed how the goals of the project intersect with a number of other projects and initiatives underway.

The group got a lot of information and were charged with staying in touch on Mobilizing Minds O3 site about two things:

  1. how each organization might be able to be involved as channels for dissemination of the knowledge products to be developed by Mobilizing Minds and
  2. how each organization can include young adults in their programming and planning.

Tara Syed (Young Adult Leader, Mobilizing Minds) echoed these goals. “I am glad we’re getting our project out there and that we’re one step closer to disseminating our resources in the right way to the right people. I am excited to meet the young adults who will join our team from the community partners and engaging more youth!”

York University’s KMb Unit and ResearchImpact were pleased to be there at the beginning. Mobilizing Minds can trace it’s history back to the very first KM in AM in November 2006 when Henny Westra (York University, Department of Psychology) met Mary Lynne Porto (Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region). It was through those discussions that the desire to find a pathway to young adults mental health was formed. We have blogged about Mobilizing Minds previously on February 5 and 24, 2010 and June 8, 2009 and we are pleased to see Mobilizing Minds grow into a project that is now engaging community organizations to get information to young adults.

Madalyn Marcus (PhD student, Clinical Psychology, York University) said, “This community partnership forum is directly related to my research. It is vital in moving forward with dissemination of these findings to get feedback from those in attendance today”.

Commmunity partners have tons of knowledge and experience; their value to university research and KMb projects is huge. Christine Garinger (Mind Your Mind) summed up this contribution and the energy of the group. “What wisdom we bring! What energy we bring! We don’t want to duplicate or waste time. We want to move forward in action. Awesome!

Congratualtions to Jenn, Tara and Mind Your Mind for a great partnership event.

KMb Team Canada

ResearchImpact – Réseau Impact Recherche continues to grow with the addition of three new knowledge brokers, with more to come.

I recall clearly my excitement in February 2006, when conducting a scan of university KMb activity I learned there was a third person who was working in Canada as a university-wide knowledge broker. Joaquin Trapero of the University of Victoria and myself had been hired through the support of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Intellectual Property Mobilization (IPM) grant. We discovered David Yetman, formerly of the Harris Centre at Memorial University and who is now at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), was working in a similar capacity. This expansion of our cohort by 50% was encouraging and enlightening. The three of us communicated regularly, sharing good practices in KMb, and as a result created a university-based Community of Practice (CoP) for the emerging work of KMb led by Canadian universities.

Fast forward over four and a half years later and the three of us remain engaged in knowledge mobilization in some capacity (delivery, strategic leadership, practitioner and researcher). However, our emerging and loosely constructed CoP has now germinated into an active national network covering regions from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. Our network has expanded by 100%, as we now work with three other universities within the ResearchImpact – Réseau Impact Recherche (RI-RIR) network. In addition to the University of Vicortia, York and Memorial, who has just hired Bojan Fürst, we now work with the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), University of Guelph and University of Saskatchewan. And to demonstrate the power of this brokering network, UQAM is hiring two brokers (welcome Luc Dancause and Jérôme Elissalde) and Saskatchewan is exploring similar capacity. Guelph is also hiring a broker to work with Linda Hawkins and UVic is hiring a KMb Coordinator to work with Joaquin.

September 23 and 24 saw RI-RIR leaders meet for two days to discuss strategic and operational opportunities. The KMb brokers were joined by the Vice Presidents of Research from York, UVic, USask and UQAM as well as the Dean of Social Sciences from University of Guelph. We spent Thursday developing a shared vision for ResearchImpact – Reseau Impact Recherche. Thursday evening the brokers went out for dinner and drinks and Friday we rolled up our sleeves to put operational meat onto the strategic bones the VPs built for us.

In the quiet moments between conversation and presentations, it was nice to reflect back to that February day when the national broker network grew by 50%! We continue to grow, and the excitement for me remains high. What seemed like an ideological vision that every university in Canada would have an institutional knowledge broker is now grounded in possibility based on almost five years of activity, research and development, recent growth and a shared vision by more and more universities in Canada.

It’s exciting times for university knowledge brokers in Canada! We are now pleased to introduce you to KMb Team Canada. Bienvenue à tous nos courtiers MdC.

Andrei Sedoff (York U)                 Bojan Fürst (MUN)            Caroline Roger (UQAM)

Dominique Robitaille (UQAM)      David Phipps (York U)        Jennifer Adams Warburton (MUN)

Joaquin Trapero (UVIC)                      Jérôme Elissalde (UQAM)            Krista Jensen (York   U)

Linda Hawkins (U Guelph)                                                     Luc Dancause (UQAM)

Laura Zink (U Saskatchewan)                        Michael Johnny (York U)

Susan Blum (U Saskatchewan)

United Way and York University launch Change Inc. to address complex social issues in York Region

ResearchImpact-York is pleased to be part of Change Inc., a social innovation incubator. Change Inc. is a partnership between the United Way of York Region and York University that will build capacity for social innovators, remove policy barriers, incubate new ideas and mentor new social entrepreneurs so that the best and new ideas in York Region are supported to a point where investments can be bought to bear to support scale up of the innovations. York’s knowledge mobilization unit will connect these new ideas to research, expertise and graduate students to support and sustain these new approaches to complex social issues.

Thanks to YorkU Research for posting this release.

Collaboration to incubate new ideas and support social entrepreneurs

United Way of York Region and York University have launched Change Inc., a collaboration that will incubate and invest in promising innovations to tackle complex social issues and build capacity in York Region.

Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way, and Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation at York University, made the announcement at Deloitte’s head offices in Vaughan as part of United Way Week (Oct. 4 to 8).

“We are proud to announce Change Inc. − a critical strategy in United Way’s impact agenda − in collaboration with York University and our advisory group of business leaders,” said Zanotti. “For our region to be great for all residents, we need a new infrastructure to incubate ideas and shift the way we solve social problems.”

“Change Inc. is transformative for York University, for United Way and for capacity building in our community,” said Shapson. “Change Inc. will provide seed funding, space and support services to social innovators and entrepreneurs. It will provide better access to York University’s research, graduate students and the programs − such as knowledge mobilization − that support their work with the region. It will match social innovators with business-leader mentors. This approach advances and broadens York University’s innovation agenda, builds on our strong partnership with United Way, and engages York Region’s corporate leaders in social innovation, which is a persistent gap in Canada’s innovation agenda.”

Change Inc. will work with its Innovation Advisory Board, established in June, to actively develop a sustainable strategy. Co-chaired by Zanotti and Shapson, its current members include:

  • Charles Beer, board chair, United Way of York Region.
  • Anthony Gallo, vice-president, Social Media, OpenText
  • Pat Horgan, vice-president, Manufacturing, Development and Operations, IBM
  • Debora Kelly, editor-in-chief, York Region Media Group
  • Young Park, sector vice-president, CGI
  • Avi Pollock, head, Applied Innovation and Strategic Planning, RBC

“Change Inc. builds on the United Way’s Strength Investments announced earlier this week,” said Zanotti. “Together with our current program funding, Strength Investments and Change Inc. provide a continuum of support for people, groups and agencies doing good work across York Region.” Information about the Strength Investments is available on the United Way’s Web site.

“Congratulations to United Way, York University and the business advisory board for disrupting the status quo with the announcement of Change Inc. − an opportunity to research, try and scale new ideas to address social challenges,” said Lorrie King, partner, Deloitte, and member of the 2010 United Way Campaign Cabinet. “Deloitte is a champion of United Way and a champion of innovation. At Deloitte, innovation is at the very cornerstone of our corporate strategic directions, and our own leading-edge research, across all sectors, clearly identifies innovation as the driver of long-term success and sustainability.”

Over the coming months, Change Inc. will announce its office location and release information about a community innovation summit, pilot projects and funding opportunities.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin