Local innovations focus of Peterborough Chapter event

Fostering innovation and business development by leveraging local resources highlighted the discussion October 28, 2017 at the annual Engineering Symposium organized by PEO’s Peterborough Chapter.

The Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT) and the local chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) joined forces with the Peterborough Chapter in staging the day-long event.

Nearly 80 chapter members and guests attended the symposium, which adopted the theme “Local innovation driving success.” The symposium focused on mid-sized communities’ efforts to create innovation clusters by attracting engineering, business and entrepreneurial talent to the local region.

The event included exhibits by new start-up businesses in the Peterborough area, along with success stories of local companies. Keynote speaker Andressa Lacerda, PhD, for example, outlined the foundation and rapid expansion of Noblegen Inc., a Peterborough-based company producing “advanced ingredients dedicated to developing cost-effective, naturally-derived ingredients for the human nutrition industry.” Although she is neither an engineer nor business development expert, Lacerda described how assembling the right combination of technical talent and entrepreneurial spirit drives business success.

“Southern Ontario brings a great combination of backgrounds that include agriculture, innovation and research, while being a few hours to major city centres both in Ontario and the US,” Lacerda said. “We have leveraged this unique location, and Noblegen is now flourishing in the innovation sector.”

The symposium included a brief presentation by Maryam Monsef, MP for the Peterborough-Kawartha riding and the minister of the status of women.

Monsef urged engineers and other community leaders to promote the profession and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers as a sure way to nurture innovation and allow communities to “harvest the abilities” of its future practitioners.

Later in the afternoon, MPP Jeff Leal, Ontario minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs and the minister responsible for small business, spoke of the importance of engineers to the local economy, and cited the P.Engrole in the development of airborne drones to help farmers monitor the health and status of their crops.

Other speakers attending the symposium included Tara Wellborn, C.E.T., who described the role of engineers and technicians in the long-term success of Peterborough-based Numet Engineering and its evolution as a division of the global Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Canada Ltd.; and Kris McNeely, who outlined the expansion of CDC, a local food supplier and distillery serving the Persian ethnic market.

Presenter Ross Green, P.Eng., later shared his experience in starting up Apricity Renewables Inc. (ARI), a Canadian professional engineering firm specializing in delivering engineering services for solar and renewables projects.

Nanda Affonso, P.Eng., chair of the Peterborough Chapter’s Communications Committee, said the symposium success was a joint effort. “I was really impressed as to how well the local chapter of PEO, the IEEE and the OACETT executives worked collaboratively to bring together our annual symposium,” she said.