Niagara innovation on display at OCE Discovery conference

Niagara College will join with Innovate Niagara the Niagara Region and Brock University to showcase the best that Niagara’s innovators and entrepreneurs have to offer the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery conference next week. 

The partners will lead the first-ever Niagara Zone at the OCE Discovery conference to be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre April 27-28. OCE Discovery is Canada’s leading innovation-to-commercialization conference that brings together key players from industry academia government investors entrepreneurs and students to pursue opportunities for collaboration.

In the Niagara Zone all four partners will share what’s next in Niagara innovation and will give away a unique made-in-Niagara product: lavender water from Niagara-on-the-Lake-based Neob – a client of Niagara College’s Niagara Research and Innovation division – which will be in premium custom bottles produced by Trivium Industries – a Welland manufacturer that is a current resident of Brock University’s BioLinc incubator. The Niagara Region has sponsored a large archway signage for the Niagara Zone.

Niagara’s presence at the conference will also extend beyond the dedicated Niagara Zone. Niagara College’s entrepreneurship hub ncTakeOff will sponsor six student delegates to attend the conference while Niagara Research and Innovation will sponsor 10 students who are currently working on applied research projects at the College.

Thanks to sponsorship from the OCE local company Northern Drones will participate in the conference’s Young Entrepreneurship Zone. Northern Drones is owned and operated by a Niagara College student Spencer Smith (Business Administration – Marketing Co-op) and recent graduate Drew Stirtzinger (Police Foundations).

Niagara College president and OCE board member Dan Patterson will be a judge at Discovery’s David McFadden Energy Entrepreneur Challenge Competition while Niagara College’s industrial research chair Mike Duncan will be on a panel discussing the emergence of agricultural technology.

“A spirit of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking are characteristics that set Niagara College apart” said Steve Hudson Niagara College’s vice president Academic. “Discovery is an excellent opportunity for our students to network and collaborate. It’s also a chance for us to showcase ncTakeOff which is weaving entrepreneurship into all of our programs and activities and our Research and Innovation division which is helping local companies find innovative solutions and bring new products to market.”

The Brock University contingent will include BioLinc as well as the university’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute and four student entrepreneur groups who will participate in the Young Entrepreneurs Zone (Niagara Screening Joint Venture Applications Cross Border Housing and Incounter).

“BioLinc is driving Brock’s entrepreneurial culture through its outreach to faculty students and other youth in Niagara” said Dan Lynch manager of BioLinc at Brock University. “It provides physical incubation space and works with its partners to facilitate knowledge-transfer to youth through mentorship business support services and a variety of initiatives. One such initiative is the Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program which through a variety of activities training and resources supports the early stage entrepreneurial aspirations of Niagara’s youth.”

“Niagara is experiencing exciting developments in the entrepreneurial ecosystem” said Jeff Chesebrough CEO of Innovate Niagara. “The Niagara Zone at Discovery will be a reflection of the successful coordination of resources between Innovate Niagara Brock University Niagara College and the Niagara Region to provide the support mechanisms needed for early stage entrepreneurs.”

“The Niagara Region is thrilled to collaborate with these key partners to grow and develop our community’s innovative and entrepreneurial culture” said Nadine Taft manager of Innovation Entrepreneurship and Partnerships in Economic Development at Niagara Region. “Our presence at Discovery demonstrates how important innovation and entrepreneurship is to overall economic growth providing us with opportunities to learn to share information and to highlight our specific strengths in the overall ecosystem.”  

Last year Discovery drew more than 2600 attendees and 420 exhibitors. The conference serves as a showcase for leading-edge technologies best practices and research from a broad range of sectors including health manufacturing digital media environment and others. The conference will include renowned keynote speakers and panel discussions. Learn more at

ncTakeOff is funded by Niagara College and the On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA) program. OCEA is an initiative of the Government of Ontario under the Youth Jobs Strategy and is managed by Ontario Centres of Excellence. Ontario is investing $295 million over two years in the Youth Jobs Strategy to help 30000 more young people connect with the tools experiences and entrepreneurial support they need to find employment or start their own businesses. More than 20000 jobs have already been created under the Youth Jobs Strategy.

The Goodman School of Business BioLinc is Brock University’s business incubation facility dedicated to promoting and enhancing the growth of new businesses and the commercialization of discoveries taking place at Brock and across Niagara. BioLinc’s Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program is also an OCEA initiative.

Innovate Niagara helps entrepreneurs with leading-edge ideas to start grow and succeed. Innovate Niagara is a Regional Innovation Centre through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs. Innovate Niagara assists emerging sectors and high-growth industries through business advisory services tools and resources including a network of business incubators.  Learn more at

Niagara Economic Development is part of the Regional Municipality of Niagara and works in partnership with local municipalities and business organizations to attract investment and businesses to Niagara and to help existing businesses expand and succeed. 

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


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