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Conducting Your Research - Promoting a Culture of Discovery & Innovation

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Experiential Learning, Discovery & Innovation

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Knowledge Mobilization & Transfer

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Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, Research Skills

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Design Thinking

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Sustainability Thinking

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Clean technology

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Healthy Communities


KPU’s Office of Research Services encourages the exchange of knowledge and expertise between academia and public/private partners that are mutually beneficial. Collaborative partnerships enable students and faculty to work on projects of interest with industry and community, while exploring real-world solutions. Such partnerships promote and expand the mobilization and transfer of knowledge to the benefit of the broader community, and provide students with job relevant skills.

Research Plan           Research Focuses and Groups

Industry and Community Research           Innovative Research Spaces

Design Thinking @ KPU

KPU has an established reputation for scholarly contributions to the social and cultural fabric of our communities through creative, fine and performing arts. Faculty, students, staff, and administrators on each of the campuses are regularly showcased and recognized for their artistic expression and contributions to their field of inquiry. The Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design is committed to educating design leaders who can ethically transform diverse ideas, produce technology for innovation, and engage with design communities locally and globally.

What might be broadly described as The Design Challenge is being addressed at KPU in several disciplines and from a number of interdisciplinary perspectives. It is reflected to varying degrees in the courses and programs on campus, as well as through the experiential learning and applied research projects occurring in the community. It encompasses a variety of methodologies and allows for the acquisition of a range of critical and creative skills.

The Research Plan broadens the conventional definition of design thinking to accommodate perspectives that are being developed by KPU where the goal is learning to design and the focus is placed on the value of the design process and skill development rather than just on an end product. In an age where information is readily available but quickly becomes obsolete, design education at KPU encompasses processes that allow for analyzing and synthesizing information in innovative and creative ways to empower life-changing ideas. This new approach will encourage and support designers to seek solutions to complex human problems through a blend of theory and praxis that enables them to explore how technology and innovation can be used to challenge the limitations of current reality, and make new realities possible.

To learn more about Design Thinking, click here.

Sustainability Thinking @ KPU 

KPU’s focus on sustainability thinking involves interaction with, and is relevant to, municipalities, school districts, community NGOs, local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the public at large. The university has two well established applied research clusters - The Institute for Sustainable Horticulture (ISH) and the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) – that are making ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of how to advance sustainable agriculture and food systems in BC and beyond.

Several program areas in the Faculties of Arts, Business, the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design, Health, Trades and Technology, and in Academic and Career Advancement have perspectives on sustainability embedded in their courses and reflected in the interest of faculty and students. Additionally, the highly regarded Environmental Protection Technology (EPT) program has been graduating students for several years into various “green” sectors of the economy.

Communities of interest who interact with faculty and students around issues of sustainability have access to a considerable and growing concentration of intellectual expertise and research capability. Through these interactions, students are gaining valuable real-world experience and potential pathways to careers during and after their KPU program. This strategic relationship between the academy and the community is significantly reinforced through these opportunities for authentic co-creative collaboration.

To learn more about Sustainability Thinking, click here.


Clean Technology @ KPU

Clean technology is an emerging and dynamic sector of the British Columbia economy that is thriving, particularly in the areas of energy supply and storage, energy infrastructure and green building design, and energy efficient technologies. Clean technology describes products and services that improve process efficiencies, optimize material resources and energy efficiency, reduce environmental pollution, and minimize waste. Research and development in this sector brings together innovations in science and technology with business acumen to address resource challenges, improve environmental conditions, and mitigate the impact of climate change. It typically explores one or more of the following areas:

-          Clean Energy

-          Clean Water and Air Quality

-          Clean Transportation

-          Waste Management and Recycling

-          Green Buildings

Significant opportunities exist to expand BC’s capabilities to develop clean technologies designed for water, air, and waste innovation. Water quality, waste management, and emissions reductions are fundamental industry needs that are currently underserviced and have significant research and development potential.

KPU is making a significant contribution to the focus on job creation in sectors such as clean technology, health technology, and sustainability, which have been identified by the BC Government. The university can leverage opportunities in the Cleantech sector based on existing and emerging programs that provide students with critical thinking and problem solving skill sets.

A partnership established between KPU, the City of Surrey, and Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre in 2014 will help build clean technology innovation in BC and beyond. Foresight is a provincially funded, not-for-profit, structured venture acceleration program designed to help early stage Cleantech companies with guidance, networks, and experience. KPU has direct access to Foresight’s clean technology incubation space near KPU Surrey. Through this partnership, faculty and students will be able to connect easily and quickly with industry leaders in this high growth sector.

The City of Surrey accounts for approximately 10% of BC’s Cleantech sector, with approximately 40 companies located around the Surrey Fraser Docks, and in industrial zones close to the US border. The region’s natural competitive advantage for clean technology of relevant KPU courses and programs (e.g. initially in business, design, and science and horticulture) to Foresight’s Challenge Dialogue will expose students to a range of industries and experiences before graduation, and potentially to employment.

Working in the clean technology sector requires global systems thinkers who understand the complex relationships between the environment, economy, and people. As this sector matures in the region, KPU with its partners will become a champion for innovation in clean technology, and a leader in Western Canada in advancing sustainable technologies and practices for Canada’s resource sector.

To learn more about Clean Technology, click here.


Healthy Communities @ KPU

Rapid population expansion and a concomitant growth in critical health care needs in British Columbia have created a pressing demand to bring together medical technologies, independent living technologies, and digital health technologies - with business and market expertise, clinical product development, and patient outcome solutions - to improve the health of individuals, and to build and sustain healthy communities across the region. A significant investment in research and development is being undertaken to understand and deploy health technology and to train more people in its use. This research will be a collaborative process involving multiple areas of expertise from the health sector, post-secondary institutions, and the private sector.

The City of Surrey has embarked on an ambitious strategic initiative - Innovation Boulevard - a health-technology oriented research and business corridor that will bring together leading health science practitioners, health service providers, and more than 180 health organizations in one square kilometre of Surrey City Centre. This new initiative will create a world-class hub to enhance patient care and boost economic growth. Health Tech Connex (HTC), a new building directly across from Surrey Memorial Hospital on Innovation Boulevard, will bring together hospital, health care development, and key business services to quickly and effectively produce health technology solutions and products for market (e.g. medical technology and digital health accelerators) and integrate them into Surrey Memorial Hospital’s suite of health and community care services.

KPU, will join a network of health institutions, universities (UBC, SFU, and BCIT), and companies in HTC in 2015. Involvement in HTC will raise the university’s profile in the community and provide access by researchers, students, and alumni to a range of research opportunities around the theme of building healthy communities. Exposure to real-world collaborations where health, academic, industry, technology, and community-living experts creating innovative design solutions is a unique opportunity for KPU faculty and students. Currently, KPU has some expertise in the health and life sciences areas, but the HTC space will give the university an opportunity to expand faculty and student access to hospital-embedded medical technologies, as well as technical and business expertise that can help commercialize research and development. The expansion of experiential learning and applied research opportunities at HTC will reinforce our polytechnic university mandate and strengthen KPU’s presence in the health sector in the region.

HTC aligns with KPU's strategic, academic, and research goals by cultivating a supportive, collaborative, and exceptional learning environment that blends together relevant community engagement and academic expertise in order to explore concepts in community health, design thinking, and business concepts/skills. Innovation Boulevard represents a unique opportunity for KPU to blend theory and practice, integrate teaching and learning with research and scholarship, and build institutional capacity for faculty champions and highly motivated students in the Health Sciences, Design, Business, and Arts. The thematic focus of HTC will allow KPU to draw faculty and students from across disciplinary boundaries into a systematic, structured, and cumulative approach where experiential learning opportunities can be integrated with applied research opportunities to producing significant contributions to building healthy communities in southwest BC.

To learn more about Healthy Communities, click here


Experiential Learning & Discovery and Innovation @ KPU

KPU supports a series of linked strategies through which experiential learning (teaching and learning) and discovery and innovation (research and scholarship) can come together in applied ways that are relevant to KPU’s diverse communities of interest. This focus recognizes and encourages both curiosity-driven research by individual scholars as well as applied research centred around institute and thematic clusters.

As a regional polytechnic university driven by teaching and learning, KPU is inspired by solving problems through research and engagement with communities of interest south of the Fraser River and beyond. The university is paying close attention to priorities being set by the rapidly growing municipalities in the region, emergent labour market demands, and the challenge of creating communities that are healthy, safe, prosperous, and sustainable. Our program priorities are intended to increase post-secondary participation, credential attainment, and career preparation and advancement to support economic and social development in our region. Our graduates have the skills, knowledge and attributes needed for success in a 21st century economy.

KPU has always had a core of research-engaged scholars, reflecting strong community engagement in departments such as Psychology, Criminology and Sociology in the Faculty of Arts, as well as in the Faculties of Academic and Career Advancement, Health, Science and Horticulture, Trades and Technology, and in the Schools of Business and Design. A positive by-product of being a multi-campus institution is the opportunity to offer program concentrations with experiential learning tailored to the strengths and interests of the communities we serve, and connects faculty and students directly with economic and cultural leadership.

To learn more about Experiential Learning & Discovery and Innovation, click here.


Knowledge Mobilization and Knowledge Transfer @ KPU

There is a growing trend among academic institutions to incorporate knowledge mobilization strategies (KMb) into their applied research and community engagement. This includes creating compelling narratives that describe the diverse range of research and scholarship that universities are doing with community and industry partners.

The focus of KMb is on the transformative impact of collaborations between non-commercial research and expertise in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The work is often inter-disciplinary, technology-enabled, involves breaking new ground, and is heavily relationship based.

Knowledge Transfer (KT) allows for the results of these collaborations to be broadly exchanged and disseminated in the community as well as being a key source of input for the university to update and enhance teaching and learning.

Elevating the profile of research and scholarship through KMb and KT strategies will help to advance the university’s profile with government, industry, and community partners. It supports students by exposing them to real-world contexts to enhance their learning and provides real time opportunities for current and future employment.

KPU employs a variety of academic and social media outlets to showcase the curiosity-driven and applied research findings that form a major part of the university’s KMb and KT strategies in the design, sustainability, healthy communities and social innovation fields. Considerable effort has gone into building partnerships within British Columbia by strengthening KPU’s role in the BC Applied Research and Innovation Network (BCARIN), and across Canada through membership in ResearchImpact (a consortium of 14 universities committed to maximizing the impact of academic research for the public good and in support of global communities), as well as an on-going commitment to Colleges and Institutes Canada (formerly ACCC). The ORS is constantly building profiles, videos, and infographics to highlight KPU scholars and students, and broadly disseminating their work through our consortia partners. - Check out the “Translating Research and Scholarship into Action” tab to view.

To learn more about Knowledge Mobilization and Knowledge Transfer, click here.


Skill Sets

Students engaged in experiential learning & discovery and innovation in the four areas of applied research (design thinking, sustainability thinking, clean technology, and healthy communities) will develop creative thinking, critical thinking, effective communication, and research skills, which they will take with them as they enter the work force.

From the perspective of faculty and mentors engaged in this process, the skill sets are outcomes which emerge from experiential learning & discovery and innovation with industry or community partners in real-world settings.

To learn more about Skill Sets, click here