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Niagara College receives $3.25M boost for applied research

Niagara College will enhance its applied research outputs for the benefit of businesses in the region, and augment the educational opportunities for students, thanks to a $3.25 million investment of federal funding. On October 14, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced more than $85 million for 76 grants through the College and Community Innovation program (CCI), managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The CCI program is a key vehicle for funding applied research in Canada, strengthening research links and collaborations between Canadian colleges and partners from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, other colleges, and/or universities with a common goal of creating economic, social, health and environmental benefits for Canada. “We are proud of the award-winning work we do at Niagara College,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, Vice-President, Research & External Relations. “Thanks to this investment in our research activities, we can significantly expand the collaborative work we do with local companies by bringing more researchers, students and industry partners together to address innovation challenges. The result will be the creation of more jobs for our graduates while contributing to economic growth in our region and beyond.” The impact of the five-year Mobilize grant will be felt by many SMEs, such as Niagara Pet Nutrition, based in Thorold. The high-quality pet food company needed to pivot mid-pandemic when deciding on an export market; they were initially looking at China. Thanks to a partnership with Niagara College, through the business team of researchers and students, Niagara Pet Nutrition now has a clearer understanding of its target customer demographic, a distribution strategy, and a new plan for exporting its products as far south as Mexico. “The college did a fantastic job,” said Robert Hales, Plant and Production Manager, Niagara Pet Nutrition. “They exceeded everything. They worked within the timeline they gave us, and they gave the ownership group a lot to look at and digest.” To continue growing and innovating, contributing to economic development, and enhancing NC’s student applied research offerings, the Research & Innovation division will action several key objectives with the funding over the next five years, including:
  • Establishing the Research Chair in Computer Technology with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. The Research Chair will help diversify the Centre’s offerings with Artificial Intelligence and further developed computer technologies.
  • Formalizing the current Business & Commercialization Solutions support team into a fully realized Innovation Centre, adding a full-time Research Program Manager to the team while increasing the number of researchers dedicated to this important work for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
  • Advancing the strategic direction of the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre by adding staffing resources, and an updated focus on current and future growers’ applied research needs.
  • Adding resources related to exploring new research areas, such as health, and the social sciences, to align with academic program offerings and expertise to conduct applied research projects aimed at supporting the health-care sector and vulnerable populations in society.
  • Increasing student applied research opportunities throughout the R&I division, adding another 30 students per year to work on these projects within the R&I division. Many more students will also work on projects within an academic term for course-based research, increasing their world-readiness through hands-on learning.
  • Instituting a Research Opportunity Fund (ROF), open to all faculty and staff, to encourage and grow a culture of innovation throughout NC. The first competition will be held in 2023.
View NSERC’s October 14 news release.