NC receives federal funding to assist local manufacturers through its Industry Innovation Centre

Niagara College will continue to expand its services and equipment for Niagara’s manufacturers as a result of today’s announcement of $1.75 million over five years for the Industry Innovation Centre at Niagara (IIC@N).

The Honourable Ed Holder Minister of State (Science and Technology) delivered the Media Releases as part of a nationwide announcement of grants through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). During today’s event Minister Holder also announced another $287795 in funding for equipment for Niagara College’s research and innovation division Niagara Research which runs the Industry Innovation Centre.

“Moving ideas efficiently from the laboratory to the marketplace is key to driving Canadian innovation forward. Our government is strengthening partnerships between colleges and local businesses to improve business and college innovation while creating jobs and prosperity for Canadians” Minister Holder said during the announcement.

“This is exciting Media Releases for us as it allows us to formalize the work begun a year ago” notes Marc Nantel Associate Vice-President of Research Niagara College. “With this funding we will be able to ramp up our activity and better serve the manufacturing industry with increased equipment and services as well as by hiring a centre manager a full-time researcher and a dedicated technologist.”

“The Niagara region has more than 800 small- and medium-sized manufacturers who are working hard to be competitive yet in many cases they do not have in-house research and innovation capacity” adds Dan Patterson President Niagara College. “That’s where our research division comes in. Our faculty and students work with local manufacturers to improve their products and efficiency. These projects then contribute to job creation and the overall revival of the manufacturing sector in the region.”

Located at the Welland Campus the Industry Innovation Centre at Niagara (IIC@N) will also provide support services and mentorship to hundreds of companies as a result of training and networking opportunities. IIC@N provides small regional manufacturers access to needed facilities equipment technical expertise – including 3D printing and 3D scanning of objects as small as a dime and as large as a whole factory – and services to assist them in product development technology adoption expansion into new markets and commercialization.

The centre was launched in May 2013 thanks to funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s Prosperity Initiative fund and support from the Province of Ontario and key regional partners such as Niagara Economic Development and the Niagara Industrial Association.

The minister’s announcement was made at Nova Scotia Community College’s Waterfront Campus and included nearly $40 million in grants to colleges across Canada to support applied research and development activities with industry.

The additional $287795 was awarded by NSERC from the Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grants (ARTI) to support the purchase of applied research equipment and installations to foster and enhance the ability of colleges to undertake applied research innovation and training in collaboration with local companies.

The Niagara College grants include $130096 for equipment and software to translate 3D scanned data into computer-aided design software for the IIC@N team; $29949 for a web portal server for Niagara Research’s precision agriculture team; and $127750 for an aquaponics system and growth chambers for the horticulture team.

NSERC aims to make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency promotes and supports discovery research and fosters innovation by encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.

Niagara Research provides real-world solutions for business industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities.

The division conducts projects that provide innovative solutions such as producing and testing prototypes evaluating new technologies and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses.

With funding support from various provincial and federal agencies students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry partners leap forward in the marketplace.

To learn more about partnership opportunities with Niagara Research contact research@niagaracollege.ca or visit the Niagara Research at NiagaraCollege.ca/Research.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences advanced technology media applied health and community safety supported by unique learning enterprises in food wine beer horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit NiagaraCollege.ca.

-30-

Media inquiries please contact:

Michael Wales
Senior Communications Officer
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7773
Cell: 905.328.4101
mwales@niagaracollege.ca

Julie Greco
Communications Specialist
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7368
Cell: 905.328.2532

jgreco@niagaracollege.ca  

BACKGROUND

NSERC
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada aims to make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports university students in their advanced studies promotes and supports discovery research and fosters innovation by encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects. NSERC researchers are on the vanguard of science building on Canada’s long tradition of scientific excellence.

BACKGROUND
TECHNOLOGY ACCESS CENTRE
Manufacturing is the largest sector contributing to Niagara Region’s gross domestic product (GDP) in excess of $2.14 billion in 2012; 16% of the region’s GDP is derived through the output of manufacturers. Approximately 1 out of 9 Niagara workers makes his/her living in the manufacturing sector; its share of the regional labour force is a close third only to retail trade and healthcare.  There are more than 800 manufacturing companies in the Niagara and they need to innovate to grow. In order to help Niagara manufacturers stay strong and thrive in competitive emerging global markets Niagara College will expand the Industry Innovation Centre at Niagara or IIC@N (pronounced “I Can”) thanks to partnerships with local industry economic development agencies the Government of Ontario and now the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
 —
At IIC@N companies access an array of state-of-the-art equipment expertise and services to support process improvement product innovation and commercialization. Demand for Niagara Colleges services in advanced manufacturing and successful projects have come from local companies manufacturing products including sports garments fishing lures biotechnology tests and pre-fabricated insulated home panels.

BACKGROUND
ARTIs

ADVANCED MANUFACTURING
Based on two major surveys of the Region’s more than 800 manufacturers both IIC@N and its collaborators have identified the need and necessity to expand the range of co-ordinate measurement machines (CMMs) and their supporting software. With the addition of a new portable CMM and software to transform three-dimensional (3D) scanned data into computer-aided design (CAD) databases IIC@N will be able to further support its industry partners by performing: CAD-based large-part inspections machine calibrations and alignments dimensional analysis tool building and setup and robot calibrations. Increasing IIC@N’s capacity in 3D scanning and 3D software further enhances its position as a favoured partner for industry and will help it provide products and sustainable solutions to help strengthen and support our regional economy.

HORTICULTURE
Niagara College currently has a greenhouse that occupies 16000 square feet. There is excellent research done in this facility however seasonal environmental conditions such as light levels limit the replication of experiments as environmental conditions change with the seasons. A controlled environment growth chamber ensures that all growth parameters are controlled with exacting precision allowing replication for scientific purposes. An emerging partially-closed growing system involves raising fish (aquaculture) in a contained indoor system while using their organic waste to feed a hydroponic plant growth system which combined are referred to as aquaponics. This has the additional benefit of raising local fish which reduces the footprint associated with travel the environmental toxins that affect and are taken up by the fish and the benefit of growing hydroponic vegetables. Overall improving our ability to research with on-demand parameters on food plants and floriculture as well as working with hydroponic vegetables and aquaponics create a perfect synergy to research four-season sustainable food with our industry partners while demonstrating modern technologies to students.

PRECISION AGRICULTURE
The Niagara College Research and Innovation division Niagara Research is the hub for Dr. Mike Duncan the NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) in Precision Agriculture and Environmental Technologies. The best opportunity to maximize the production from the currently farmed land is by increasing the yield. Precision agriculture is focused on increasing the yield while decreasing the fertilizer inputs which reduces costs increases revenue and minimizes environmental impact. Dr. Duncan and his team have developed a variety of web applications that provide real-time data mapping map analysis and/or value added farmer data. Currently the team’s Precision Agriculture work is at the stage where it can be applied with growers and grower consultants to increase their productivity and competitiveness.
To properly apply and test precision agriculture theories with 15-30 growers as is required a state of the art server and disk system will be required particularly due to growers’ needs for quick data turnaround prior to applying inputs to their fields. At the end of the project the algorithms and the system will be developed into an automated entity that has the capacity to process data from thousands of farms (there are 28000 grain farmers in Ontario) in a timely manner. The funding will provide a world-class computer engine that will be used to develop this system.