New CCA mentorship program connects innovators with contractors looking to test novel solutions
July 9, 2019 by David Kennedy
TORONTO—Without the direct input of end users, innovations are often little more than solutions in search of problems.
A new mentorship program organized by Canadian Construction Innovations (CCI) is taking aim at this long-standing challenge by connecting construction innovators directly with contractors capable of testing new solutions.
After running a successful pilot program earlier in the year, CCI — a non-profit affiliate of the the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) focused on fostering industry innovation — officially launched the 2019 CONtact innovator mentorship program late last month. It’s now accepting applications from firms that are developing new products or services for construction and are interested in having their latest software or equipment put through its paces in real-world scenarios. Time-saving software, novel on-site equipment and innovative apps that leverage the skills of an increasingly tech-savvy workforce are all fair game.
“Our goal is to spark innovation and accelerate the use of new solutions to improve the industry’s productivity, safety, profitability and contribution to building sustainable communities,” Mary Van Buren, president of CCA, said in a release.
“One of the biggest challenges for innovators and entrepreneurs developing new solutions is gaining access to executives in the industry to get feedback on their solutions,” she added. “Equally, it can be difficult for the industry to learn about leading-edge solutions that can dramatically improve their businesses. CONtact provides the perfect platform to overcome that challenge.”
Faber Technologies Inc., a three-year-old Vancouver-based company with technology that helps connect contractors with workers, is one of several firms that participated in the pilot as a mentee earlier this year.
“It was great,” John Reid, the company’s chief revenue officer and co-founder, said in an interview. “I think it was the fact that we were actually able to get some validity on the product.”
With the Canadian construction industry continuing to face a labour crunch, Faber Connect is set up as a two-sided marketplace designed to advance the industry beyond job boards and temp agencies. The software lets workers set up a profile, not unlike those on LinkedIn, which tracks skills and past experience. It gives contractors more insight into who they’re hiring for both short- or long-term jobs. At the same time, for workers, Reid said the platform provides a fair wage and guaranteed pay.
Faber continues to collaborate with several construction firms it worked with during the pilot program on ways to tweak its platform. Along with its base in Vancouver, the company currently serves the Toronto market, but is planning to expand into a number of other large cities in the near future.
It’s this type of scale-up environment the new CONtact program looks to foster — all while giving the Canadian construction industry a leg-up.
Backed by the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), the initiative aims to put mentees’ new products and services on the fast-track to adoption. For contractors serving as mentors, the program will provide a first look at emerging technologies that may help trim costs, increase productivity or improve safety.
Innovators and entrepreneurs interested in participating in the program have until Aug. 30 to submit an online application.
Construction companies looking to take part in the program as mentors also have until Aug. 30 to throw their names in the ring. Would-be mentors must have at least five years of industry practice or a track record of bring new solutions to market.
CCI plans to match successful applicants with mentors this October.