Goals and missions

The Waterloo Institute for Complexity & Innovation (WICI) is a research hub that promotes the rigorous transdisciplinary study of innovation within — and the resilient and beneficial transformation of — the complex adaptive systems essential to human well-being.

Under this overarching mission, WICI aims to:

  1. Pursue leading-edge research that significantly advances complexity science and its practical application to humanity’s problems;    
  2. Create a vigorous university-wide research community in the field of complexity and innovation studies;
  3. Link this community through research projects and exchange of knowledge with the global complexity-science community; and,
  4. Establish the University of Waterloo as a world leader in efforts to use complex-systems ideas to promote innovation to solve multi-scale, systems-level global problems.

Within the University of Waterloo, WICI acts as a “centre of centres” for research on complex systems. Within southern Ontario, WICI activities bring together scholars, practitioners, and policy makers working on both theoretical and applied complex systems problems. Beyond the immediate geographic scope of southern Ontario, WICI uses online and interactive technologies to disseminate its findings and to engage vigorously with complexity researchers around the world.

Research goals

The institute’s research goals are:

  1. To combine existing ideas from complex-system studies with complementary ideas from relevant fields — including theoretical neuroscience, systems engineering, economic geography, theoretical physics, and climate science — to develop enhanced and integrated conceptual frameworks and methods for the study of complex natural and social systems; and
  2. To apply these integrated concepts and methods to stimulate rapid innovation that either:
    1. enhances the resilience of complex systems vital to human well-being that are economically viable, socially equitable, and ecologically sustainable, or;
    2. hastens the beneficial transformation of complex systems with irremediable and fundamental flaws.

Community development goals

The institute’s community-development goals are:

  • To encourage the synthesis of disparate knowledge on the University of Waterloo campus through collaborative research, seminars, workshops, conferences, and high-quality publications;
  • To draw together the expertise of researchers from existing university departments, centres and institutes and associated institutions to create a community focused on using complex-systems ideas to promote innovation to solve practical problems;
  • To develop a shared foundation in concepts and research tools;
  • To provide university-wide training and support in the use of complex-systems research and modelling tools; and
  • To act as a hub for graduate students across campus and related institutions who are studying complexity and innovation.

Waterloo Institute for Complexity & Innovation (WICI) logo.