UTM management program set to shake up local talent pool

University of Toronto Mississauga’s new business school is set to inject more sector-trained graduates into local companies and draw new ones to the area.

UTM vice-principal of special initiatives, Ulli Krull, said the new Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI) would provide graduate student resources to companies in exchange for more input into program curriculums and training opportunities.

Krull said small and mid-sized companies often have the inventiveness but don’t have the staff and the wherewithal to take it to an innovation. “They have a gap between having a bright idea and the physical resources, the team you need and the capital funding to bring that to something that’s commercialized,” he told YourMississaugaBiz.com.

IMI wants to fill that gap by reaching out to companies in the GTA that have an interest in turning ideas into real invention and building faculty-student teams that will help them do so. “It’s not meant to be contract research funding,” Krull explained.

A greater focus on experiential learning opportunities for IMI’s master’s students should also position them much farther ahead than other co-op or internship programs designed for undergrads. “You can imagine how industries compare a second-year student’s experience with a graduate student,” he said. “They’ve already been taught basic skill sets like communications, management tools and also has sector-specific knowledge.”

UTM started using this particular approach of education with their master’s program in biotechnology. Now it’s being extended into master’s management programs in sustainability, accounting and innovation.

“We’ve been playing around with this to ensure that graduates from these programs are actually superb in the sense of what they’re trained to do,” said Krull.

Krull hopes this platform could potentially be replicated depending on circumstances at other municipalities and academic institutions in Canada.

IMI is part of a partnership between UTM and Advantage Mississauga, a coalition of city, industry and academic officials that started about six months ago.

“The group’s focus is developing innovative talent and connecting that right talent with the needs of businesses in Mississauga to make them more innovative and productive,” explained Mississauga Board of Trade president Sheldon Leiba, who is also the group’s vice-chair.

Leiba said one of Advantage Mississauga’s operatives is working with Sheridan College and UTM to make sure there is curriculum that reflects the needs of businesses. “It’s about nurturing the talent that businesses need,” he said. “And better connecting that talent back to businesses. The new program at UTM is going to do is introduce innovation management into all kinds of different disciplines.”

Students at IMI will be exposed to curriculum where they’re going to be encouraged and taught how to be more creative, increase productivity, think outside of the box and how to collaborate better on issues.

“It really helps make sure all levels and all roles within an organization are going to have creative people.”

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