Skip to main content
Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

UOIT researcher asks: Why does Canada trail the U.S. in commercializing new technologies?

Blancride carpooling app launched by Dr. Hamid Akbari, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology, and his research team in November 2014. Inset image: Relative value vs time of Canadian companies (Blancride, Wattpad, BlackBerry, Nortel) vs U.S. companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple). Source: Dr. Hamid Akbari.
Blancride carpooling app launched by Dr. Hamid Akbari, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology, and his research team in November 2014. Inset image: Relative value vs time of Canadian companies (Blancride, Wattpad, BlackBerry, Nortel) vs U.S. companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple). Source: Dr. Hamid Akbari.

It’s hard to imagine what life in 2015 would be like without the many modern conveniences our society enjoys. But there was a time when there was no Internet, no smartphones, and no automobiles.

“It’s easy to forget that in the beginning, all of these things were exclusive to a few pioneers who were willing to experiment with a new invention,” says Dr. Hamid Akbari, a strategic management researcher at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). “These innovators believed the impossible to be possible. And yet, somehow a way was found to commercialize their ideas. Markets were created. There are two sides to innovation: supply and demand. But without both, the circle of innovation is non-existent.”

Dr. Akbari, an Assistant Professor with UOIT’s Faculty of Business and Information Technology (FBIT), has published a new study that examines why Canada struggles to successfully commercialize inventions.

“Canada has the potential to have its very own Silicon Valley, but great technologies don’t always become popular here,” says Dr. Akbari. “This leads to ideas being commercialized elsewhere, or permanently remaining on the drawing board. Even though the technology may work, people tend to only see the full benefits after there is consumer acceptance.”

In 2014, Dr. Akbari’s research team launched Blancride: an innovative carpooling platform that matches passengers with drivers who share the same travel needs (link to original UOIT story about Blancride). Blancride targets the need at UOIT for an eco-friendly, convenient, and cost-effective commute.

“Those who adopted app early on understood the difference a transportation technology such as this could make, not just for students, but for solving broader issues such as traffic gridlock and decreasing carbon footprint. Within eight weeks, about 1,200 people – roughly ten per cent of commuters in the campus community have adopted Blancride. This means we may have the critical mass of users needed to allow this new technology to evolve.”

Dr. Akbari believes a collective hunger to try new things and push the frontiers of technology is what made a success of Silicon Valley – now home to big names like Google, Apple, Intel and Facebook. 

Canada vs USA technology (value over time)

“Silicon Valley has a high adoption rate of new technologies. That high demand invites and attracts invention. Building an entrepreneurial community is vital; this leads to new companies which create high paying jobs.”

He believes the idea and implementation of innovation is ever-present at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, where a new spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is alive and well. The early results for Blancride are a good sign. Dr. Akbari hopes everyone at the university will continue to keep thinking big.

“Does UOIT have what it takes to become the next regional cluster for innovation, not just for Durham Region, but for Canada? Do we have a community of innovators and early adopters, whose sophisticated demand drives inventions and economic prosperity? Only time will tell.”