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Senior Fellow

B.A. Amherst College

M.A. Oxford University


Nobina Robinson served from 2009-2018 as the Chief Executive Officer of Polytechnics Canada, the national association representing degree-granting and research-intensive colleges and polytechnics.  She is currently an Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.

After first joining the federal public service in 1990, Robinson worked as a political officer for the Canadian Foreign Service Officer, representing Canada at the Canadian Embassy in Havana, Cuba from 1994 to 1997.  From 1998 to 2002, Mrs. Robinson led FOCAL, a policy institute on Canada’s relations with the Americas.

As Polytechnics Canada’s CEO, Robinson successfully advocated for increasing federal research investments in the applied research and innovation capabilities of Canada’s colleges and polytechnics, extending beyond traditional academic research. She was instrumental in urging the federal government to establish the Canada Apprentice Loan program in 2014.  Robinson was also a key proponent for modernizing federal innovation programs, particularly relating to small business innovation.  During her time at Polytechnics Canada, Robinson also served as a member of the 2011 federal Expert Panel appointed by the Government of Canada to review business R&D and innovation programs. 

Robinson holds a B.A. from Amherst College, an M.A. from Oxford University (Commonwealth Scholar 1985-1988) and has pursued post-graduate studies at Yale University.

She has written numerous media commentaries about Canada’s innovation and talent challenges and opportunities for modernizing Canada’s skills and research ecosystems, and frequently contributes her thoughts through guest lectures to undergraduate students.