Prepr is a Global Lab Network that connects students and startups to employees and employers to co-LEARN. co-LAB. co-SOLVE® real-world challenges and create business opportunities.
Prepr creates innovative learning experiences using its signature PIE® method, an interdisciplinary problem-solving framework that combines Project leadership, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship to provide learners with both the skills and digital capabilities needed to become workforce-ready while creating meaningful work-integrated learning experiences. We do this by enabling individual learners to gain micro-credentials associated with team-based, project-based, and challenge-based learning.
Prepr’s team of passionate changemakers, collaborators, and growth engineers have a mission to strengthen collaboration between the public and private sectors through key challenges that affect communities, organizations, and governments all around the world. Its goal is to create lasting and impactful solutions for organizations by building up innovation capacity and redefining culture through a more diverse and inclusive approach to learning and innovation. Prepr equips organizations with the programs, tools, resources, and expert advice needed to accelerate business growth, competitiveness, productivity, and job creation.
Prepr has developed strategic relationships with key partners and stakeholders across the globe, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Linux Foundation, Magnet, Mitacs, University of Toronto, York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, Fasken, MarS Discovery District, Open Innovation Vietnam, Indiegogo, and SingularityU Canada.
The case for bridging workforce development & innovation capacity
Ten years ago, Prepr set out to explore the cross-sections of open innovation and open education. The groundwork of this research and development led us to discover the roles and interactions of various actors who impact the Canadian education and innovation economy. Public sector organizations such as post-secondary institutions, and community entrepreneurship support organizations are responsible for the development of research and innovation through various programs, departments, and campus-led incubators and accelerators, while private sector organizations look to connect innovation to pilots and funding – with government being the glue in the middle. Government funds innovation and skills development through conduits such as NCEs and RDAs to fund, establish or scale incubators and accelerators. Other forms of research funding are provided through IRAP-NRC, SSHRC, NSERC and other initiatives such as the Innovation Super Clusters established in 2017-2018.
In charting this ecosystem, we realized how disconnected the various actors in both public and private sectors are in their triangular cooperation with government, and the ineffectiveness of mobilizing knowledge for commercialization. This laid the foundation for the development of an Open Lab Network to connect the innovation and education ecosystems together, allowing them to act symbiotically in charting Canada’s competitive future and positioning in the global knowledge economy.
How do we create Impact?
With the pandemic, we need to accelerate digital skills development through challenge-based learning. We’ve accelerated this work through open science with the support of 30+ partners including AWS in our Beyond Covid-19: Global Open Innovation Challenge. The groundwork for this started a year prior through our inaugural Industry Future Challenge Series in 2019/2020.
Most recently, through the launch of our Flexible Upskilling Network (F.U.N) Program, we partnered with Linux Foundation, Network for the Advancement of Black Communities, and Magnet as part of an Employment Ontario project partially funded by the Government of Ontario and Government of Canada. The goal was to accelerate both digital innovation skills and workforce readiness using an interdisciplinary learning method geared towards project management, leadership, innovation, design thinking, business acumen, and commercialization. Through multiple design experiments of using this method in a six-week pre-work placement training to a 10-week combined work-placement training, the results showed 71.8% completion rate, engaging 47.8% women, 24.8% youth from black communities as well as 35 employers.
To scale this work nationally, we’ve partnered with Magnet and Orbis Communication to expand the Prepr Network and ensure all students, regardless of their status, background, gender, ethnicity, race, colour or creed have an equal opportunity to build the skills and capabilities they need to succeed and become ready for the future of work, today.
This is exemplified by our most recent launch of the Industry Future Challenge Series 2020/2021, in partnership with AWS, Linux Foundation, and Magnet, to ensure all students can access these learning and co-innovation challenges while getting support from Prepr and its network of partners to build their portfolio, receive micro-credentials backed by real work vetted by industry experts, and meaningful incentives to help scale the solutions that can potentially help Canada’s industries through recovery and growth.