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Funding for Niagara College’s Food & Beverage Innovation Centre will support businesses to develop and market new beverages

Niagara College is excited to share that the Food & Beverage Innovation Centre (FBIC) will receive funding of up to $200,000 from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). This support will help FBIC deliver services to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to de-risk innovation in new beverage product development, which includes prototyping, food safety guidance, testing, and producing marketable products at FBIC’s new Beverage Research & Development Pilot Processing Facility.

This NRC IRAP funding allows FBIC to connect SMEs with its highly qualified and experienced FBIC staff, faculty, recent graduates, and students, with the right expertise and equipment to meet their needs and provide solutions for industry innovation challenges.

“For the second consecutive year, we’re thrilled to have NRC IRAP’s support. Contributions such as these give the FBIC team the opportunity to work collaboratively with industry partners, impacting their bottom line, and provide real-world job opportunities for students,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, Vice-President, Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises.

“Both FBIC, IRAP and the communication between the two has been seamless. Not one part of this process was overwhelming, thanks to them. They have allowed us to design and build our product to a place we are thrilled with. Budgets and costs are even tighter in this post-COVID world, but we were able to make it happen,” said Michael Kapusty, General Manager of Dispatch Restaurant.

“Having achieved their Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, FBIC can now help industry partners to be market-ready by focusing on getting the food safety and quality parameters right at the initial stages of development, so they can prove their concept in the market, and be confident in the next steps of scaling to commercial co-packing/manufacturing. FBIC de-risks the product launch process and plugs in where industry needs the most support,” said Lyndon Ashton, Associate Director, Economic Development & Planning, FBIC.

Project intake is ongoing and open until November 29, 2024. The average project value will be $24,000 – comprised of $20,000 NRC IRAP funding and industry cash. Project values will range from $20 – 28,000. To participate, SMEs must contribute a 1:1 match comprised of 20% cash and 80% in kind, which includes such items as staff time committed to the project.

The target clients for this pilot include SMEs innovating in beverage production, including non-alcoholic, low alcohol, or alternative products (such as plant-based and functional beverages like sports drinks, etc.).

To be eligible, SMEs must be NRC IRAP clients referred by an Industrial Technology Advisor or Client Engagement Advisor.