As collaboration outside of the academy becomes increasingly important for research impact, expanding its network of industry and community partners is a strategically important goal for the University of Windsor, and the research administration team is responding.
Launching on May 1, the new Office of Research Partnerships will add critical support to the UWindsor research ecosystem for researchers working with off-campus partners. From inception to implementation, Research Partnerships will offer supports for industry-researcher collaboration, community engagement, networking and outreach, intellectual property and commercialization, and innovative knowledge transfer to aid researchers in growing their research impact.
The Office of Research Partnerships will be headed by Tom Schnekenburger, who has been working with the Office of Research and Innovation Services since 2020. Schnekenburger started his career in Kitchener-Waterloo’s start-up ecosystem with a smart city technology company and worked with state and local governments on the West Coast of the U.S. to learn how to adopt innovative technologies. He joined the University of Windsor in 2020 in a shared role with Invest WindsorEssex and St. Clair College working to advance strategic partnerships in automobility and building on the strength of the regional ecosystem to further Windsor-Essex as a place to stay, learn, work and play.
In his new role as director of research partnerships, Schnekenburger will provide strategic direction on campus research partnerships, and leadership in expanding the networks available to UWindsor researchers. He will be responsible for cultivating relationships with industry, government agencies, and community partners who are positioned to put research outcomes into practice and keep a finger on the pulse of their needs to better support matching the right researcher to the right partner. He will also lead the identification and development of new and strategic partnerships that will keep the University on the leading edge of technology, arts, science, humanities, and social sciences research.
Supporting the office will be Nicole Roberge (BComm 2020), who joins the Research Partnership team from Finance. She will take on the role of innovation administration co-ordinator, looking after the UWindsor intellectual property portfolio and supporting networking with prospective off campus partners. Roberge will also work with colleagues in the Office of Research and Innovation Services to develop grants that will support commercialization of innovative technologies. Roberge has worked in the University's Finance Department for several years. She was a projects accountant on such major capital projects as the Toldo Lancer Centre and Transforming Windsor Law.
The Research Partnerships team is rounded out by contract/technology transfer manager Vesna Kaps (BComm 1996, JD 1997), whose legal expertise and wealth of knowledge about UWindsor research has long played a pivotal role in securing research contracts.
Together, the Research Partnerships team will play a key role in promoting UWindsor research and building its reputation for excellence. They will also expand the impact of this research by helping to make sure it gets into the hands of those who can put it quickly into practice for better, more resilient local, regional, and national outcomes.
The Office of Research Partnerships is part of the Office of Research and Innovation Services under the leadership of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.