DEFSEC 2016 and the CARIC Connector: 6 Questions for Duncan McSporran, CARIC’s Regional Director for the Atlantic

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DEFSEC Atlantic 2016 will hold a CARIC Connector on September 6, 2016. What exactly is the CARIC Connector?

It is a unique opportunity in the year for innovators, researchers and industrial partners to find out where the aerospace innovation is occurring in Atlantic Canada.

It’s the equivalent of innovation speed dating: in less than five minutes, industry experts and researchers present their expertise and the partners they seek. Afterward, direct discussion is encouraged, and stakeholders who wish to continue the conversation are invited to network at the breaks and during the following two days of the show.

It is a great opportunity for participants to find out more about the industry’s interests and challenges and to get a better understanding of the regional expertise which is available to meet these technical challenges.

The event allows direct targeting of potential partners and the ability to communicate with them in person.


In one sentence what is THE reason to attend?

Team building and strengthening the network for the benefit of the Canadian Aerospace sector.


How would you qualify aerospace in the Atlantic region?

Whilst we have world-leading aerospace companies in the region, our industrial base tends to be blended, with companies operating across a number of industrial sectors including aerospace and defence. Also in Atlantic Canada we have a much more distributed industrial and academic base than most regions, which is spread across the whole of Atlantic Canada. From Gander in Newfoundland to Miramichi in New Brunswick – there are aerospace partners in all corners of our four provinces and each one with their own unique capabilities. This brings a very unique challenge with an Atlantic Canadian flavor, especially in the winter!

Another significant difference that is a real advantage is that we have a unique research collaboration network, Springboard Atlantic with whom we are partnered in the region. This partnership allows us to connect directly with all the research campuses throughout Atlantic Canada – and we are putting in a lot of effort to network researchers with the aerospace teams in CARIC. The partnership with Springboard allowed us to pull together a group of over 20 University and Industrial partners at the Research Forum in Montreal earlier this year, with some really encouraging early stage developments already occurring as a result.


Any challenges to face? If so, how?

The biggest challenge is convincing many of the world-leading innovators in our research groups and small and medium enterprises that they are in the aerospace sector, and that their best interests are served by collaborating with other groups, often outside the region.


What currents project are underway in the region?

Discussions are under way for a number of collaborative projects that are at various stages of development. In particular there is a lot of work going on to launch projects in the CARIC network with regards to novel use of materials; quantum analytics for engineering; use of nano-technologies; aerospace cyber-security; advanced manufacturing technologies and a wide range of other subjects – many of which will be discussed at the Connector. At the moment I am looking forward to the connections that we get out of our event in Halifax as this will add more momentum to many of these discussions, and also to some of the visits which are being planned to develop the project discussions by CARIC members from outside of Atlantic Canada.


Now that the CARIC network is well in place, what are your goals for the future?

There is a real excitement at the moment as a single pan-Atlantic association for aerospace and defence will be formed in the near future. One of the key focuses that the new group will re-energize is that of a regional perspective on Innovation and Research & Technology.
As the new group develops, we are obviously keen to support in whatever way we can to pilot innovation in the aerospace sector for not just the region, but Canada as a whole.

If I have one other goal for Atlantic Canada, it is to encourage people to start the innovation engagement process early. We have a very well worked out engagement plan that is designed to ensure that partners and CARIC members don’t waste time and effort to search for solutions and partners. Our main role is to reduce the friction of finding the right collaborative team, and enable rapid innovation developments to overcome technology gaps. One way of doing this is by being at the CARIC Connector at DEFSEC, where we can share some of the real capacities and capabilities that we have in the region.

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