For the fourth year in a row, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is ready to offer small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) access to the College’s resources to provide e-business and technology adoption solutions.
Thanks to a new $50,000 grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Niagara College will offer vouchers to 20 companies to support projects that will generate new market opportunities. Eight vouchers are available for companies to access Technology Adoption projects, which will focus on technology development and testing/validation activities to support innovation. The remaining 12 vouchers will focus on e-business solutions such as website development, online sales process, digital and social media and customer relationship management.
Technology adoption projects are incorporated into an appropriate technical course in a program such as Culinary Innovation Food Technology, Greenhouse Technician, and Mechanical Engineering Technician. Students in the course work with their faculty and industry partner to help de-risk new technologies and promote their adoption.
A technology adoption project has enabled the North Hamilton Community Health Centre (NHCHC) to harvest the first two crops of lettuce, which they have been able to share with participants in the programs improving food access in our communities, according to Elizabeth Beader, CEO of the NHCHC.
“Through partnering with Niagara College and being a recipient of the OCE grant, we were able to purchase growing towers and supplies for our new greenhouse,” Beader explains. “Niagara College students have been supporting the community through consultation and development teams including: operations, crop advisement, costing, construction and layout design. The students have also provided greenhouse training to community stakeholders.”
Bill MacDonald, Niagara College faculty, was “thoroughly impressed by the commitment of the students who drove to Hamilton every two weeks to work on this project, which enabled them to apply their classroom learning in a real-world scenario and see the benefits of their effort on the north Hamilton community.”
The NHCHC was equally impressed, awarding Niagara College with Partnership Innovation Award for the project, which will be formally recognized in this autumn.
“OCE is proud to work with Niagara College to support the great companies working in the Niagara region through our Voucher for E-Business and Technology Adoption,” said Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO of OCE. “By connecting companies with the expertise and resources available at colleges like Niagara, we are helping promising young businesses scale up the development, adoption and implementation of online tools and other technologies to drive innovation.”
For each e-business project, the Research & Innovation team – which includes Niagara College students and expert faculty members from the New Media Web Design program – meet with the industry partners several times during the project, assessing the business’ needs, proposing solutions, designing and then populating the pages with content created by the company.
Niagara Falls-based Tukats Solutions was looking for a website (http://www.apothecary.mobi/) to promote its Apothecary app, which is described as “Canada’s only open marketplace for pharmacists and pharmacy owners/managers.” Since launching the new site, Apothecary has seen an “increase in topline revenue thanks to contracts with Loblaws and Walmart,” according to Ahmed El Shazly, managing director.
More information about the funding program, including details for potential industry partners, is available here: http://ncinnovation.ca/information-for-industry/current-opportunities. Companies interested in partnering with the Research & Innovation team may contact David DiPietro, Business Development co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 905-641-2252, ext. 4287.
Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Voucher for E-Business and Technology Adoption (VEBTA) Program connects eligible companies with the expertise and resources available at Ontario colleges to help their business scale up the development, adoption and implementation of online tools and other technologies to drive innovation. These college projects will lead to new market opportunities for the business, which may include exports.
Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division provides real-world solutions for business, industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. They conduct 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 regional, provincial and federal agencies, students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry partners leap forward in the marketplace. For more information, visit ncinnovation.ca
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 Part-Time Studies 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.
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