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SFU Beedie and the Vancouver Economic Commission launch new industry-academia research lab

Mar 05, 2021


New Economic Transformation Lab will leverage research & business innovation to future-proof Vancouver’s economy

The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) and Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business (SFU Beedie) today launched the Economic Transformation Lab (ETL), a platform for collaboration between industry and academia that researches the seismic trends anticipated to impact Vancouver’s economy in the coming decades. The program’s objective is to develop actionable goals, programs, or insights that shape policy advocacy and will help future-proof Vancouver against these trends.

“The Economic Transformation Lab builds on VEC’s foundational strength as an industry convener, researcher and advocate for some of the most pressing topics and issues in Vancouver’s economic development,” says Eleena Marley, acting CEO at VEC. “While its foremost purpose is rooted in preparing Vancouver for anticipated paradigm shifts, the leading-edge nature of ETL and alignment with global issues means many of its projects could inform strategies of regions far beyond Vancouver.”

The Economic Transformation Lab is a partnership between SFU Beedie and the VEC

In addition to helping build resilience in the local economy, ETL projects involve or respond to critical global drivers over the next 10–15 years, such as climate change, technological advances or demographic shifts. Simon Fraser University has already committed to a second ETL project researching the circular economy of local food systems, and VEC is working with the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) to explore an ecosystem study of advanced and zero-emission, social purpose aviation along the Cascadia Corridor.

“We are excited to collaborate with VEC on this ambitious program,” says Andrew Gemino, SFU Beedie’s dean pro-tem. “It represents an important opportunity to put our faculty’s world-class research into practice and to contribute to our community’s economic success. The planned projects align closely with our goals and values, and I look forward to seeing the impact they will have.”

Although VEC is responsible for managing and publishing ETL projects, participating academic subject matter experts play a critical role in scoping and shaping the deliverables. An example of this collaboration is the Affordability Guide published in October 2020, for which SFU Beedie finance professor Andrey Pavlov introduced a novel approach for benchmarking housing affordability in the region.

“Support from academia has always been crucial to industry and policy innovation, and SFU Beedie has been an early and instrumental partner in ETL’s development,” says Marley. “We hope other academic institutions will soon join us in the journey to future-proof Vancouver’s economy.”

Representatives from academic institutions or industry stakeholders interested in proposing, collaborating on or otherwise supporting Economic Transformation Lab projects may refer to the Vancouver Economic Commission website for details, existing projects and criteria.