A new Institute for Management & Innovation (IMI), which just opened its doors at the university’s Mississauga campus, is ready for the future. The IMI offers cross-disciplinary programs that prepare graduates to excel in science-based businesses; professions such as accounting and human resources; and organizations focused on sustainability. A primary focus on innovation will help students develop the knowledge, creativity, collaboration skills and leadership abilities to take bright ideas – theirs and others – and put them into action.
The institute will offer professional master’s programs in biotechnology, accounting, innovation and sustainability – and undergraduate programs in accounting, finance, marketing and human resource management – all existing programs that have been enhanced with a greater focus on bringing ideas to fruition. Along with a new PhD certificate program in professional development, these programs will be housed in the new Innovation Complex, a four-storey facility that will let students in different programs learn with and from each other through shared courses, joint projects, and mutual study and social spaces.
“The typical structure within a university is to divide into manageable units as departments, but this siloing often means that expertise across departments is not widely shared,” says Ulrich Krull, vice-principal of research at UTM and the person who proposed the institute. “The IMI and the Innovation Complex encourage the elimination of silos so that communication across key sectors, such as management, can be facilitated.”
The objectives and structure of the institute took shape over the last four years through an extensive consultation process among U of T’s three campuses, local businesses and the City of Mississauga. Initially accommodating about 2,000 students, the institute will perform research in areas such as health care, the energy sector, and entrepreneurship.
Students will be exposed to examples of forward-thinking practices in their fields, work with industry partners in co-op placements and participate in experiential learning activities. An example of the latter, Krull says, might involve students operating as a corporation or startup and tackling a specific challenge: developing a plan, identifying and procuring needed equipment, completing progress reports and staying within a budget. In addition, students will gain real-world experience in how innovative ideas become practical realities through interactions with corporate partners.
IMI director Hugh Gunz, a professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management at UTM, says the initiative will ultimately bolster Mississauga’s economic development. “We’re seeking to help Mississauga advance new partnerships in the business community, attract international talent and compete on a global scale,” he says.