Applied Research and Innovation Centre

Applied Research and Innovation CentreInnovation is the ability to turn ideas into new and improved products, processes and services. The Applied Research and Innovation Centre (ARIC) helps small and medium sized companies solve real world, market-driven challenges and bring new ideas to the marketplace.

Having grown from a handful of applied research projects a decade ago into a vibrant experienced technology transfer centre, ARIC is preparing Centennials’ graduates for innovation and entrepreneurial leadership in a rapidly changing and complex global environment. With over 60 industry, academic and government partners collaborating on over 100 successful R&D projects, our multi-disciplinary teams in new media, business, engineering, health, manufacturing and sustainable energy are ready to work with you to find solutions to your innovation and technology challenges.

Have a look at some of ARIC’s recent initiatives:

SpongeLab Interactive – Biotechnology Scavenger Hunt – 2009
Funded by Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII)
Principal Investigator: Paula Demacio

Engaging today’s digitally-driven youth in educational pursuits relies on the creative production and integration of innovative teaching technologies in the classroom. Centennial College and Spongelab Interactive, a Toronto-based educational game design and production company, are collaborating to produce an interactive, biology-based game that will assist teachers in effectively bringing technology into their classroom and provide users with an immersive biology learning experience. Genomics Digital Lab: History is an educational game designed around a Flash interface to provide the user with an interactive, story-driven experience about the history and significance of the genomics revolution and the scientists who contributed to the field. The game’s innovative scavenger hunt approach will engage learners in a curriculum-based, immersive, and interactive learning environment.

Centennial College students were intimately involved in the production of a custom game engine, the background research and storyline development, and the creation of stunning artwork. The award-winning game, produced by this collaborative effort between Centennial and Spongelab, is now available in 70 countries and has been integrated in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics curriculum at the middle, secondary and post-secondary level at schools around the world.

Citizen Researcher – 2009 – 2010
Funded by the Centennial College Applied Research and Innovation Centre and Colleges Ontario Network for Industry and Innovation
Researchers: Atack, L., Demacio, P., Mallory, D. and Shipwright, S.

Results from numerous studies suggest that students typically view research courses as boring, anxiety-provoking and irrelevant; a serious problem when the ability to read and use research is a critical skill in today’s society. A research and development team from Centennial College developed an online graphic novel called Citizen Researcher (CR) as an innovative way to address the skills gap. The graphic novel was designed to provide context, interest and motivation for the research literacy learning activities that are integrated with the novel.

A pilot study was conducted with CR in Fall 2009 using surveys and interviews with students from a range of programs. Results from a course satisfaction survey suggest that most students had an enjoyable, worthwhile learning experience. Students reported that the graphic novel format acted as an incentive to read and learn. Students made statistically significant gains in their research literacy competency scores. They made the greatest gains in detecting bias and critical thinking skills, reflecting the major theme of the novel. They also reported gaining skills in searching the online research databases and citing reference articles.

The results of this study strongly support the continued development and integration of the graphic novel into college curriculum. The Citizen Researcher graphic novel has the potential to help students learn valuable skills that will help them to make the transition from high school to college. The graphic novel holds promise in education, however, it should be used selectively, and further work is needed to identify how it can be used most effectively with different curricula and student groups.

GENOMEPAD: A collaboration with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research – 2009-10
Funded by Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII)
Principal Investigator: Paula Demacio

With the rapid development and release of powerful mobile computing devices, performing bioinformatics tasks on the go is becoming increasingly feasible and useful for busy scientists. In collaboration with Francis Ouellette, at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Centennial College bioinformatics students, Jagruti Joshi and Juan Aguilar, have developed GenomePad as one such mobile bioinformatics application. GenomePad takes advantage of many features and qualities from both the iPhone and the genomic maps from the UCSC Genome Browser to make portable browsing of the UCSC possible on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

GenomePad was developed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, and is freely available at as well as from Apple’s iTunes Store.

IDEAS at Work – 2009 – 10
Funded by: Health Force Ontario

Recognizing the need for increased inter-professional communication and data interchange during large and small scale emergency situations, Centennial College developed the Inter-professional Disaster Emergency Action Studies (IDEAS) Network to stage high fidelity emergency and disaster simulations. Since its inception in 2005 the IDEAS Network has completed seven full-scale multi-disciplinary community simulation exercises involving an extensive collaborative network of more than 3,500 students, faculty and public/private sector professionals across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Through participation in these simulation exercises and analysis of the resulting data, the applied research team at the Centennial College Applied Research and Innovation Centre (ARIC) identified a critical need for applied research across the continuum of prevention, response and recovery.

The project involved the development and testing of three versions of a surge capacity educational program for clinicians and managers. This was particularly relevant in the Winter of 2010 with the outbreak of the H1N1 pandemic, and in the spring of 2010 when many facilities prepared their emergency management plans for the high-security G20 summit.

Our proprietary Disaster Strikes! multi-player online event simulation environment creates a virtual multi-participant emergency operations centre. Participants engage in major event simulations developed by subject matter experts and are compelled to work effectively together in teams to make effective mission-critical decisions, manage scarce resources and minimize human and economic impacts. @storyartscentre