Research Assistant, Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre
The Research Assistant will be enrolled in the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology or related food and beverage program. The successful candidate will work on a variety of projects and skill-building tasks. This includes assisting across various projects focusing on, but not limited to: new product development, product optimization and scale-up for production, shelf-life and packaging studies, and food safety and traceability. In addition, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to work on various other food and beverage related tasks, participate in networking/conference events and communications/outreach projects.
Two beer experts at Niagara College have been tapped to speak at the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) Conference virtual event that runs Oct. 27 to 29.
Kelly Byer, research laboratory technologist at Research & Innovation’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, and Adrian Popowycz, NC brewmaster and professor, have teamed up to present at the OCB Conference & Suppliers Marketplace 2020.
The session that Byer and Popowycz are delivering is Oct. 29, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. and is titled “Creating a Sustainable, Resilient Quality Program for your Brewery.”
The talk will review program components, from purchasing and receiving, through production and distribution, including calibration programs, traceability, sensory programs and root-cause analysis, as well as data review and analysis. The session will help brewers create quality programs that are robust, adaptable and useable.
During the conference, the CFWI Innovation Centre will also have a virtual exhibitor booth: #134.
To learn more about the OCB Conference & Suppliers Marketplace 2020 click HERE
The Ontario Craft Brewers Brewers is a trade association of 90+ small, independent brewers dedicated to making great-tasting, high-quality beer across the province. The members of the OCB develop and produce hundreds of different brands and styles of beer using fresh, all natural ingredients in more than 110 communities throughout Ontario.
Kelly Byer, research laboratory technologist, CFWI Innovation Centre:
In her role at the CFWI Innovation Centre, Byer is responsible for managing the College’s research labs – facilities, which allow students to explore such areas of food science as microbiology, chemistry, sensory analysis and shelf-life testing. She also works with Ontario craft brewers in the areas of beer analysis, sensory testing and quality assurance.
Byer has a wealth of experience in quality and food safety programs; compliance with regulatory programs and standards; and new product development. She has an Honours Biology degree with a minor in Biochemistry from the University of Guelph; she has HACCP and SQF certifications; and has recently received her BJCP (beer judging) certification.
In addition to her post with R&I, Byer is a part-time professor of NC’s Applied Plant Pathology course in the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies, and has taught Brewing Chemistry in the CFWI.
She is also heavily involved in helping the craft brewing industry in the province. She utilizes the leading-edge equipment at the CFWI Innovation Centre labs – one of the very few labs where the craft beer industry can get their brew analyzed.
As the Innovation Centre’s resident hops expert, Byer has worked with the Ontario Hop Growers Association (OHGA) to institute benchmarks for the hop market and prepared an annual report for the association to assess the performance of different cultivars over growing seasons.
Niagara College is one of the only analytic labs in Ontario to provide the required hop testing for the hops and craft beer industry.
The Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre (CFWI) team offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes. From new recipe development to shelf-life testing and nutritional labelling, the CFWI Innovation Centre pairs industry partners with faculty, recent graduates and students with the right expertise and equipment to meet industry’s needs. For more information visit ncinnovation.ca.
Jean-Pierre Giroux, president, EMC, and Lyndon Ashton, centre manager, CFWI Innovation Centre, will be leading the interactive panel discussion, titled “Growth, Innovation and Collaboration.”
COVID-19 has affected the entire food and beverage industry, regardless of our organizational focus, products produced, size or location of our company. Despite the challenges, one thing that has resonated is the necessity of collaboration to support business growth and market development across Canada and around the world. It has also outlined our interconnectedness from a supply chain perspective.
In this webinar, participants will be learning about the competitiveness of the sector, what innovations are going to help meet the needs of the consumer, the importance of collaboration in a changing market, leading ways on idea generation, adaptation and innovation, and how to help fund it.
Also on the virtual panel: Sean Aguiar, operations manager, Pilling Foods Inc.; Sheri Evans, local development manager, Sobeys; and Jen Mahon, vice-president operations at NorthBridge Consultants.
This year, SIAL Canada is launching its very first virtual trade show – Food Inspiration Week – Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 on its platform. Open to trade professionals, the event offers the opportunity to discover international innovations, attend quality webinars hosted by experts and partners, chat with trade show stakeholders – all from the comfort of your home or office.
SIAL Canada is the leading name in the agri-food industry, with more than 1,200 national and international exhibitors from more than 50 countries hosting over 25,000 buyers from Canada, the United States, and 60 other countries.
Returning this year to North America’s largest food innovation trade show is the Start-Up Pitch Competition. The unique contest, which involves a three-minute video pitch, offers these prizes:
– Complimentary booth at SIAL Canada 2021 in Toronto
– A subscription to the Food Processing Council of Quebec (CTAQ) (value between $300 and $1,500)
Food start-ups have the opportunity to pitch their food product or new technology related to the food manufacturing industry to an expert audience of investors, technical experts, industry leaders and other entrepreneurs.
Returning this year on the judging panel is Ana Cristina Vega Lugo, PhD, a senior food scientist with Research & Innovation’s CFWI Innovation Centre at Niagara College.
“It’s crucial that innovators have a platform where they can present their novel concepts to a network of experts in order to better identify challenges and opportunities, that they can then tackle or leverage for increased success,” says Vega Lugo.
Also on the Pitch Competition judging panel: Dr. Angela Tellez-Lance, PhD, senior food safety expert and risk analyst; Pierre-Marc Denault, client business partner/new business development manager, Nielsen; Anais Détolle, PhD, business development specialist, MITACS; Lynda Stewart, PhD, local business development manager, Sobeys; and Annick Van Camp, PhD, vice-president, progress in food and sustainable development, CTAQ.
Special offer for Start-Ups: become an exhibitor and also participate in the Pitch Competition with the start-ups special offer of $1,000 for a regular booth (normally $2,500).
SIAL Canada is the only national trade show that offers a complete range of food products – whether you work in the retail, catering or food processing industry, or you’re looking for a new and innovative product or regional specialty from around the world.
Jennie Vallangca is a 2020 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program and spent four months as a research assistant with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre at Research & Innovation. Today, she’s employed by two companies: Wild Tea Kombucha and JOEY Restaurant Group in Calgary, Alberta. She also works as an independent food science consultant.
Tell us about where you work:
I work for two companies: I’m a quality assurance/quality control specialist for Wild Tea Kombucha and a line cook for JOEY Restaurant Group. Wild Tea Kombucha is a company based out of Calgary, Alberta and they produce kombucha (cocktail-inspired and soda flavoured), both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. It is a summer internship through Canada Summer Jobs and my responsibilities include designing an alcohol-testing program, as well as assisting production and working on a traceability program.
JOEY Restaurant Group is a premier casual restaurant chain that has locations all over Canada, as well as a couple locations (and upcoming ones) in the United States.
If this isn’t your main job since graduating, please give us an idea of what types of related things you’ve been doing since graduating.
Both jobs are steps towards my goal(s): to help food businesses thrive through my work as a food science consultant, as well as a research chef. I work as an independent consultant as a side job to build my portfolio and credibility as a food science consultant. It gives me more opportunities to network with other small companies and to help them solve their problems.
How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
It helped me both on the technical side as well as the interpersonal side. I was able to get the experience talking to clients about their situations and how we could help find solutions; keeping clients updated and creating a final report on their project. It gave me more confidence and a better understanding about how to meet the clients’ needs.
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
The bone broth project with Broya was definitely a memorable project. It was my very first research project in the industry and it gave me a chance to work both in the kitchen and the lab. It also paved the way for me to work in the natural health-food sector, which is an interesting industry to work in due to the constant change and its innovation. Also, it is so fun to see a product I helped with on grocery store shelves – it gives me such joy!
What led you to Niagara College in the first place?
Originally, I wanted to become a chef, but due to the lifestyle and all it entails, I knew that I didn’t see myself doing it long term. I still wanted to get into food and did the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Hospitality and Tourism in high school, but I wanted to do something bigger. Random Google searches later, I found the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program at Niagara College and it was more of a “put all the eggs in one basket” type of situation. I had never considered working in the food manufacturing industry, but the more I researched the program, the more I was leaning towards it.
Most memorable experience at NC?
One of the most memorable experiences I had was organizing a whole mixer for the second-year students and some members of the industry. Many of the industry partners were actually alumni of the program and it was nice to hear what they have been up to since graduating – with some becoming managers, food scientists and giving advice to then-second years who were in the process of finding a co-op placement.
“It is so fun to see a product I helped with on grocery store shelves – it gives me such joy!”
A faculty member who influenced you?
All the faculty members made a huge impact during my time at Niagara College. Sabi Bamrah [professor, CFWI], Sunan Wang [professor, CFWI], Amy Proulx [coordinator/professor, CFWI] and Chef Norm Myshok all helped shape me for a career that I want to be in. I had always thought that I would end up in academia, but they taught me that it’s not just academics; applied learning and industry experience is completely different from school learning. They also gave me the resources to pave the way for me to build myself in my career and they always had my back.
A mentor at R&I?
Everyone in Research & Innovation had an impact and an influence on me. They taught me things outside of academia like learning new lab equipment, communicating with clients and project management. They gave me countless feedback on projects, which definitely helped in my current job(s).
What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?
Definitely find your path. Find what you are passionate about, whether it be research and development or FSQA (Food Safety Quality Assurance), you will find that path. Also, discover what sector of the industry (i.e. meat, cannabis, pet food, etc.) you want to work in.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
You definitely start from the bottom. Not everyone will get the opportunity to have their dream job right away; you’ve got to start somewhere. Working for a small business, you wear multiple hats and sometimes those hats aren’t what you are hoping for. I remember always hearing that the first few years of your career will be the most difficult, so always be resilient and don’t lose that goal.
Proudest achievement since graduating?
Moving out west to Calgary to start my career and to establish myself as a food scientist/product developer/research chef/etc. I was also part of a webinar for the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) with Food Grads on the topic of “entering the job market as a new food scientist.” It was awesome to hear the other speakers (some of whom I personally know) talk about their experience, as well as talking about mine.
Interests outside of work?
I tend to do many things – mostly being active. I like cycling (usually mid-long distances), fencing (I did it competitively for a couple years during my time at Niagara College), kickboxing and rock climbing. If it is not sports, then drawing (mostly portraits), exploring restaurants and listening to music.
If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
Just keep going! Life is a tough road, and the moment you conquer that obstacle, the reward is truly wonderful! The only way to do it is to keep going and be resilient.
Anything else you want to say?
What do you do with a drunken sailor—I’m kidding! But seriously…what do you do with five loaves of bread from baking class? Asking for a friend.
Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division will be deploying more than $1 million to expand essential applied research in the growing beverage sector over the next three years, thanks to federal government funding.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Innovation Enhancement Extend program will allow R&I’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre to enhance its state-of-the-art commercialization services to assist more beverage companies in the Niagara region, and beyond, to innovate, grow and compete in the global marketplace.
The College and Community Innovation Program (CCIP) Extend Innovation Enhancement (IE) Grant, entitled “Increasing Economic Prosperity through Beverage Innovation & Commercialization,” spans three years and includes $300,000 per year, to which $150,000 per year in industry cash contributions will be added for a total of $1.35 million.
The announcement is part of NSERC’s $76-million investment for 128 new applied research projects aimed at connecting Canadian colleges with local small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to provide innovative solutions in the development of new products and technologies.
For the CFWI Innovation Centre, this grant means expanding resources to focus on feasibility studies (pre- and post-market services and risk assessments); beverage research and product development (innovative processes and incorporation of key market trends); consumer acceptance and quality assurance; and conducting research test-runs through a small-batch, scale-up beverage processing laboratory.
This funding responds to an incredible demand by regional beverage manufacturers and more than six years of capacity-building in food and beverage research and development at the CFWI Innovation Centre’s Technology Access Centre (TAC). The NSERC-funded TAC enables SMEs to advance their products, processes and services through access to specialized technology, equipment, and expertise.
“Beverage-sector companies have identified challenges that prevent them from innovating with new products, including a lack of affordable research expertise, equipment and facilities. Through this NSERC grant, we are able to better serve the needs of Ontario’s growing food and beverage industry,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, vice-president, Research, Innovation & Strategic Initiatives.
This initiative will establish the CFWI Innovation Centre as a Beverage Centre of Excellence, strengthening Niagara College’s track record of firsts in Canada as home of the first commercial Teaching Winery, Teaching Brewery, Teaching Distillery, and Commercial Cannabis Production academic program.
“Now we’re expanding this offering for our industry/training supports with a beverage and liquids R&D pilot processing lab that bridges the gap for companies looking to get consumable test-products in the market,” said Lyndon Ashton, centre manager, CFWI Innovation Centre.
When industry partner Royal Canadian Mead needed specialized expertise to develop a line of mead products, they looked to experts at the CFWI Innovation Centre. Together with NC’s Teaching Winery and Commercial Beekeeping program, College researchers crafted new styles of session brews, two of which are now on the shelves at the LCBO.
In a more recent innovative project with DistillX Beverages Inc., CFWI Innovation Centre researchers created Canada’s first distilled non-alcoholic gin, under the band label Sobrii Ø-Gin (zero gin), with zero calories, zero sugar and, as the marketing touts: zero hangovers.
“Their expertise was instrumental in terms of me being able to sell a product that was not only superior tasting but something I can commercially scale and replicate safely,” said Bob Huitema, founder of DistillX Beverages.
Since opening, the CFWI Innovation Centre has worked with companies of all sizes, including Bacardi Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Bacardi Ltd., the largest privately-held spirits companies in the world. Consumer acceptance and sensory testing for Bacardi, involving students and staff experts, has informed the launch of new alcoholic beverage products.
Beyond project funding, this IE grant will allow the CFWI Innovation Centre to provide enhanced experiential learning opportunities for students, while meeting strong local industry demand for skilled talent. The Centre works with faculty experts and students from several NC programs – including Culinary Innovation and Food Technology (Co-op), Culinary Management (Co-op), Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management, Winery and Viticulture Technician, and Wine Business Management programs – to provide a wealth of knowledge to industry partners.
“Our focus is on combining economic and workforce development aspects of our programs. This grant lets us hire students as research assistants, who work alongside highly-qualified experts and industry partners,” said Ashton. “It gives talent access to highly motivated employers in their field, and acts as a proving ground for companies to tap into prospective employees by innovating.”
NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division provides real-world solutions for business, key industry sectors, and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. Researchers 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.
Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; 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, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.
Quick Facts – CFWI Innovation Centre Beverage Centre of Excellence
• The Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre Beverage Centre of Excellence will be part of an entire research floor of the new 49,000-square-foot Marotta Family Innovation Complex (based at the Daniel J. Patterson campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake), that includes designated laboratories focused on beverage research; and equipment to facilitate beverage processing, treatment and analytical research, including cannabis research.
• As a Beverage Centre of Excellence, the CFWI Innovation Centre will serve as a one-stop shop for beverage innovation and commercialization that will help small- and medium-sized enterprises bring their products from concept to shelf. The focus area is the liquid portfolio of food and culinary innovation, which includes beverages (non-alcoholic and alcoholic); spoonables and pourables (such as condiments, marinades and dressings); and cannabis research, including extraction, infusion and product development, mainly for beverages.
• For industry partners, the NSERC IE Extend grant will provide project funding that will require a 1:1 match consisting of cash and in-kind services. The R&I business development team is available to hear potential project ideas and discuss ways the CFWI Innovation Centre can work to solve these challenges. Contact Elizabeth Best, business development coordinator: [email protected]
• The CFWI Innovation Centre team offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes. From new recipe development to shelf-life testing and nutritional labelling, the CFWI Innovation Centre pairs industry partners with faculty, recent graduates and students with the right expertise and equipment to meet industry needs. In all cases, the intellectual property developed during the project belongs to the industry partner.