Nortel Institute for Telecommunications of the University of Toronto

Global leadership in university-based telecom research, training, education and strategic analysis

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.
-A Canadian global leader in two-dimensional physics and technology,
Wayne Gretzky

Building on an outstanding record of achievement in collaborative research and education, in 1997 the University of Toronto and Nortel Networks created the Nortel Institute for Telecommunications to mount a substantial, comprehensive and focused effort to drive the evolution of information technologies, while at the same time supporting the growth of the Canadian industry. The Institute’s interdependent missions are designed to address and respond to specific challenges, and, in so doing, propel the Institute to where information technologies are expected to intersect and merge into entirely new technologies. When fully developed as envisioned, the Nortel Institute will achieve its vision of global leadership in telecommunications research and education, creating lasting benefits for future generations.

In the increasingly competitive global economy, the Nortel Institute represents a concerted, focused and substantial effort to seize and maintain a technological advantage for Canada now and for the future. The Institute was created in response to a number of challenges and trends in Canadian society, the industry and the global economy.
These include:
  • the increasing global competition that has forced industry world-wide to retreat from long-term, exploratory research necessary to develop new technologies;
  • the critical shortage of highly qualified personnel in information technology and telecommunications (ITT);
  • the accelerating rate of change in information technology, with profound impacts on society, industry and the economy;
  • the increasing fragmentation, competition and specialization within the information technology sector;
  • the great disparity between the world-leading Canadian telecommunications industry and the scattered, small-scale, largely individual efforts in Canadian university telecom research.
Unlike other groups that are pushing the boundaries of their disciplines from within, the Institute’s strategy is to propel itself beyond such boundaries to a position where it can set and lead future trends rather than feeding them.

The Institute is responding to the challenges of change through four tightly linked and interdependent programs that are designed to support, inform and assist one another, creating value and benefits for society:

Research and development: Accelerating the advance and convergence of information technologies through the promotion, facilitation and conduct of intensely collaborative research and development;

Education and training: Preparing new generations of innovative researchers and highly qualified personnel, training and retraining students and industry personnel, and updating executives and policy-makers;

Strategic Analysis: Establishing national and international leadership through “think tank” sessions to identify and assess the scenarios, directions and paths of future technology development, producing independent, multi-perspective resources for advising industry, academic and government planners;

Information exchange: Providing two-way bridges among industry, academia and government to link up and tap into a greater mass of resources and talent.

By means of these interlinked programs, the Institute achieves its goals:
  • Creating a thriving environment and support base to attract and retain the best faculty, researchers and students, through leading-edge research in ITT, best-in-class infrastructure, and world-class talent and expertise from ITT industry and academia;
  • Providing national and global leadership in innovative thinking, strategic direction and fututre policy and standards implications of ITT, fostering intellectual effervescence and fusing industry and academia expertise through sabbaticals, fellowship, "reverse sabbaticals", think-tanks and mind-broadening forums;
  • Supporting world-class education and training for the ITT sector, including undergraduate and graduate students, domestic and international business executives and government officials, and the existing knowledge workforce.