David Muir has spent decades matching innovation with industry in the private and public sectors. He has learned first-hand the power of collaboration.
On Feb. 1, Muir will bring his expertise back to Western – where he earned two degrees in chemistry – as the university’s first-ever associate vice-president for innovation and strategic partnerships.
In this role, he will provide leadership to existing WORLDiscoveries and Western Research Parks teams, while helping connect research and industry, governments, community organizations and social enterprise to commercialize new ideas in a new strategic-partnership group.
“The university has a mandate for teaching and research and translating that research into societal impact, whether it’s research in the social sciences and humanities, or research in science and engineering and medicine,” Muir, BSc’89, PhD’94, said.
At the same time, governments and industry are eager to bring that innovation to life, he added. “The collaboration among those three entities – industry, academia and government – is critical to advancing the impact in our local and national communities.”
Muir’s new role aligns with the university’s new strategic plan, Towards Western at 150, which calls for forging more, and deeper, world-changing connections.
“Connecting the research we do to policy-makers, to industry and to our broader communities is a key way universities have impact and improve the world around us,” said Lesley Rigg, vice-president (research) at Western. “We’re excited to have David work with faculty, students, trainees and with external partners and groups to develop a shared plan for innovation at Western.”
“He brings innovative ideas, is a proven relationship-builder and has significant experience across sectors within the research and development landscape,” Rigg added.
Bringing innovation to life
Muir comes to the role from the National Research Council of Canada, where he drove numerous partnerships as director of research and development for the automotive and surface transportation portfolio in London, Ont.
His two decades of work before that in various senior roles at 3M Canada embedded him into the complexities of research, product development, manufacturing, commercialization and business.
His new work includes overseeing the daily operations of the research parks and WORLDiscoveries and, in the medium- and long-term, to help forge more partnerships.
“Western has this great combination of research, expertise in idea generation and commercializing intellectual property, and the physical space to incubate, collaborate and scale up strategic partnerships,” Muir said.
Muir discovered he loved research while earning his BSc in chemistry from Western in 1989 and carried that drive into his graduate work, earning his PhD in synthetic organic chemistry in 1994.
“I never would have dreamed myself in this role at the time. I’m not sure I knew a role like this even existed. But I think we as a university and as researchers now have a broader vision, a vision of the role universities can play in forging a greater societal impact when connecting excellence in research with strong, complementary partnerships.”