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.