Niagara College Earns Top-10 Place Among Research Colleges In Canada

For the sixth year in a row, Niagara College has earned the honour of being in the top 10 colleges in the country for research funding, according to a special report released today.  

In its report called Canada’s Innovation Leaders, Research Infosource Inc. announced the rank of eight for Niagara College, based on total research funding numbers for 2019. The publication includes its national study “Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges,” which shows a steady placement of six years in a row in the top 10, since NC earned spot No. 10 in the 2014 research funding year.

“We are proud of our continued recognition among Canada’s top 10 for research funding, as research and innovation have been a growing focus for our College. These extraordinary times have served to highlight the important role of innovation in our College and our community,” said Niagara College president Sean Kennedy. “By leveraging the expertise of our researchers and capabilities made possible within our state-of-the-art facilities, Niagara College helps local companies stay competitive. We are pleased to have been providing healthcare with made-in-Niagara solutions during the global pandemic – all while equipping our students with essential applied experience.”

Looking at colleges with applied research funding in Canada, NC earned the No. 8 spot by having attracted $7.828 million in funding to conduct innovative projects involving industry partners in the food and beverage, advanced manufacturing, precision agriculture, and related environmental technologies sectors.

Niagara College also jumped to the No. 2 position in the category of completed research projects, with a total of 262. Further, the College increased its paid student researchers to 105, a rise from 83 the previous year.

Looking closely at the number of interactions with industry – small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) who turn to colleges for help on expertise and resources to innovate – NC’s total for the number of research partnerships was 208.

Marc Nantel, PhD, vice-president, Research & External Relations at the College, noted that remaining in the top 10 among research colleges is an ongoing source of pride for NC’s Research & Innovation division.

“We are delighted to acknowledge this demonstration of the exceptional work our staff, faculty and students are doing on industry partner projects,” said Nantel. “Our priority has always been to provide innovative solutions to help local companies compete, while also enhancing our students’ education through real-world research opportunities.”

Research funding allows the College to partner with SMEs in the region to conduct projects and services, which provide innovative solutions for industry. These include producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products and processes. NC Research & Innovation conducts applied research, technical services and business and commercialization solutions with industry partners through its Agriculture & Environment Innovation Centre, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, and Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre.

Niagara College also administers the funding for two multi-institutional research networks, including the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), and the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN).

The College’s innovative solutions have helped one company commercialize Canada’s first non-alcoholic gin product following a product development research project with NC’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre and industry partner DistillX Beverages Inc. Now sold in 20 stores, as well as online, Sobrii Ø-Gin (zero gin) has since received praise in national print, TV and radio media this past year.

“Expertise from Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division was instrumental to being able to sell a product that was not only superior tasting, but something I can commercially scale and replicate safely,” said DistillX president Bob Huitema. “I think it’s important to support local academic and manufacturing resources as this is a ‘made-in-Canada’ initiative.”

In the annual Canada’s Innovation Leaders publication – which includes a comprehensive listing of all categories, analysis and insight – its theme delves into how academic institutions have helped Canada combat the pandemic. At NC’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Centre, researchers produced a total of 37,000 licensed face shields, nearly half of which went to the Niagara Health System, and close to 20,000 shields were donated to other essential workers and community members throughout the province.

Captions, from left: CFWI IC Beverage: Samantha Stinellis (foreground), former research assistant and graduate (2020) of NC’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program; and Kelly Byer, research laboratory technologist, conduct testing using the Anton Paar beer Analyser. 3D Printer: Samantha Jemison, a student in NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, calibrates an FDM 3D printer as a research assistant with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) award will fund the purchase of a biomedically compatible 3D printer for the Research & Innovation division for COVID-19 related research. WAMIC Faro: Dave McKechnie, research laboratory technologist with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, captures precise measurements with the research lab’s FaroArm coordinate measuring machine. (Supplied photos)

NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division administers research funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers and assist industry partners with leaping forward in the marketplace. Students come from a variety of the College’s programs, such as Mechanical Engineering Technology, Culinary Innovation and Food Technology, Business Administration – Marketing, and Computer Programmer.

(Source: Niagara College media release)

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