Category Archives: Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre

NC winemaker and research lead wins national scholarship

Niagara College’s winemaker Gavin Robertson has been selected for Nuffield Canada’s scholarship program, aimed at fostering agricultural leadership and personal development through international study. As well as being the NC Teaching Winery head winemaker, vineyard coordinator and instructor, Gavin is also part of the NC Research & Innovation team and has acted as faculty research lead on several research partnerships, most recently for the creation of Reinhart’s Red Apple Light Cider, that recently launched into the LCBO market.

Read more at Inside nc

Lyndon Ashton – New Manager for CFWI Innovation Centre

Centre manager Lyndon Ashton is joined by newest members to the CFWI IC research team: Kelly Byer (l), lab technologist and senior food scientist Ana-Cristina Vega-Lugo (r) in the Food Quality Lab at the NOTL campus.

There’s a French culinary phrase: Mise en place. It means having all the ingredients prepared ahead of time, and all kitchen tools assembled, before ever putting pan to burner.  A literal translation is “put in place” and this organizational doctrine for chefs has been cleverly making its way beyond the kitchen and into the boardroom.

This mindset of coordinated self-discipline has well-served Lyndon Ashton – the new manager for NC’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre – seeing that he’s had his feet in both worlds of culinary arts and business.

After working in the hospitality industry for a decade (as a chef and restaurant manager) and earning his Culinary Red Seal, Lyndon changed gears, went back to school and received a combined degree in Political Sciences and Labour Studies from Brock University. This led to the economic development industry, management consulting and business planning.

Most recently, this Mise en place philosophy of meticulous focus for the task at hand was put to use for his post with MDB Insight, one of Canada’s largest specialist economic development consulting firms. There, his job demanded managing upwards of a dozen projects at once, which included intense competitive bidding and crafting corporate strategic plans for municipalities and regions.

Last fall, the College received a five-year federal government grant to create a Technology Access Centre (TAC) for the CFWI Innovation Centre and expand its role in helping local food and beverage innovators. The funding meant the Innovation Centre could ramp up its expert staffing, including a centre manager, senior food scientist and lab technologist, while increasing technical services in such areas as food safety plans, chemical testing, microbiological assays and content analysis.

In addition to Lyndon’s arrival to head the Centre, Kelly Byer, a dedicated lab technologist and Ana-Cristina Vega-Lugo, senior food scientist, have been hired. These experts will enable the research team to expand the scope of technical services the Centre can provide. One of those services – food safety – gets a spot at the head of the table, notes Lyndon.

“A lot of our folks are experts in food safety, which is an ever prominent and growing concern with the government as well as manufacturers. We’ll be able not only to help build talent pipelines for students into small- and medium-sized enterprises, but help these companies grow and expand their innovation footprints.

Back in NOTL, from the medieval music heard from his office and hand-painted (by him) miniature dragon on his desk, it’s not hard to conclude Lyndon is a Fantasy game and literature enthusiast and serious player of the role-playing tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons. For him, it’s the “action, intrigue, mystery and romance of the genre.”
Lyndon, his wife and daughter – all original Niagarans – live in Caledonia now, but he predicts it won’t be long before he heads back this way.

“Niagara is deep in my heart and at my core and a very strong part of my personal identity and I seem to keep coming back … it won’t be long before I’m a resident once again.”


Niagara College project integrates kosher, food safety guidelines for Kashruth Council of Canada

Seeking a more efficient way to make kosher certification integrate with food safety planning, the Kashruth Council of Canada recently partnered with Niagara College on an ambitious project to do just that.

Most of the world’s leading food retailers and manufacturers participate in the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which sets standards for food safety, with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Safe Quality Food Program (SQF) as the most predominant GFSI regimes. At the same time, many food manufacturers carry kosher certification as more than 40% of packaged food products sold in the United States are kosher certified, according to market research firm Mintel.

While there is much overlap between kosher and food safety programs, they have been kept markedly separate. Until now.

The Kashruth Council of Canada, better known as “COR” by their kosher symbol, and Niagara College Canada’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre collaborated on a project to integrate kosher certification requirements into both SQF and BRC food safety programs. This work is now being released to the food manufacturing community.

“We are thrilled to offer this service to the food manufacturing community,” says Rabbi Sholom H. Adler, COR’s Director of Industrial Kosher. “We are always looking for ways to make kosher certification more efficient and effective for our kosher certified companies, and we are hopeful that this project will do just that.”

“Food manufacturers already speak a certain language, and that is the language of SQF and BRC,” says Dr. Amy Proulx, Niagara College professor, program coordinator with the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program, and faculty lead on the project. “What this project has done is translate kosher certification into that same language spoken by food safety professionals. As a result, I am confident that this initiative will be well received.”

The newly released kosher guidelines are not meant to supplant an existing kosher certification program, but rather to supplement one. “Whatever kosher certification partner a manufacturer has, this new framework will simply help organize one’s kosher program,” says Richard Rabkin, COR’s Managing Director. “In short, our hope is that it will make keeping kosher easier.”

Indeed, this new initiative has support from across the kosher industry, as it has been endorsed by other leading kosher agencies including the Orthodox Union (OU), Stark-K Kosher Certification (Star-K), Kof-K Kosher Supervision (Kof-K), Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc) and the Rabbinical Council of New England (KVH).

Electronic copies of the newly published guidelines are available at no charge at the links below:

Guideline for Integrating Kosher Certification Requirements into BRC Food Safety Issue 7

Guideline for Integrating Kosher Certification Requirements into SQF Code 7.2

Print copies  may be purchased by contacting the Kashruth Council of Canada directly at (416) 635-9550 or

Niagara College awarded $1.9 million in funding to assist region’s food and beverage innovators

Niagara College will continue to expand its services and equipment for Niagara’s food and beverage innovators as a result of today’s announcement of $1.75 million over five years from the federal government to create a Technology Access Centre (TAC) for the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre.

The Hon.  MaryAnn Mihychuk, minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, delivered the news as part of a nationwide announcement of grants through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). During today’s event, Mihychuk, on behalf of the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science, also announced another $135,710 in funding for equipment for Niagara College’s Agriculture and Environment Innovation Centre.

“Through today’s investment, the Government of Canada is supporting collaborations between talented scientists and engineers working hard on college campuses and their counterparts who are leading local businesses,” said Duncan. “Such partnerships can lead to the commercialization of ideas, job creation for the middle class and sustainable economic growth that benefits all Canadians.”

“This is exciting news for us, as it allows us to broaden and formalize the work begun several years 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 food and beverage 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 1,200 small- and medium-sized businesses in this industry 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 these businesses to improve their products and efficiency. These projects then contribute to job creation and the overall development of the sector in the region.”

Located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre will also provide support services and mentorship to hundreds of companies as a result of training and networking opportunities. The Centre offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes in the food and beverage sector. 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.

As a Technology Access Centre, the CFWI Innovation Centre becomes one of 30 such TACs across Canada, supported by the Tech-Access Canada network ( Tech-Access Canada serves vital industrial sectors across the country, responding to industry applied research needs through innovation support services delivered by college faculty, staff and students.

The Centre was announced in 2012 during a visit by Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, and came into being thanks to significant funding support from the Government of Canada through NSERC ($2.3 million); the Canada Foundation for Innovation ($680,000); from the Ontario Research Fund ($680,000); and contributions from Niagara College and industry partners.

The minister’s announcement was made at Red River College in Winnipeg, and included more than $36 million in grants for 32 research projects to colleges and CEGEPs across Canada, to support applied research and development activities with Canadian businesses. The grants were awarded under the College and Community Innovation Program.

The additional $135,710 was awarded to Niagara College 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 grant has been awarded to the Agriculture and Environment Innovation Centre team to build and install six micrometeorological/weather measurement stations in fields, orchards and vineyards in Ontario. The wireless sensor technology will be used to collect data to be used in analytics for precision agriculture, particularly in developing and programing algorithms that will identify oncoming weather threats.

Each station will be constructed to measure values specific to the individual farm operations. For example, the station in the soy bean field will be a base station accompanied by a remote-controlled rover that travels around the field sampling the heat and humidity of the crop, since soybeans are most sensitive to moulds.

“The overall objective is to find the types of technologies that will comprise the tools needed on the family farm 30 years in the future,” notes Dr. Mike Duncan, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Precision Agriculture and Environmental Technologies, and project lead. “What will the future farm look like? How much automation versus manpower will be present? Will the manpower be in the form of a tele-presence? Each of these likelihoods has its roots in what we can build today.”

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 College’s Research and Innovation division provides real-world solutions for business, key industry sectors, and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities.

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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Niagara College student earns top spot at research poster contest



Advanced Manufacturing 1

Esteban Acosta, a student and research assistant with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre, earned a third-place finish for his poster entry this week at the 2016 Product Development Research Day, held March 21 at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) headquarters in Guelph.

A selection committee approved the presentation of a number of posters from the CFWI Innovation Centre, and the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. Student posters were entered into a contest for cash prizes.

Students and recent graduates who participated in the day-long event include Acosta, David Ly, and Andrew McCuaig. Acosta is in his second year of the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program; Ly is a recent graduate of the same program and is currently working as a research associate with the CFWI Innovation Centre; and McCuaig is in his third year of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program.

Amy Proulx, a faculty member of the CFWI and researcher with the CFWI Innovation Centre, also submitted several posters outlining the work done with her classes in the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program.

Acosta’s poster outlined his work on a unique game meat chips product; Ly presented on the benchmark research being done with Ontario hops; and McCuaig outlined process efficiencies in a peach packing operation in Jordan.

All those in attendance at the event were given ballots to select their top picks for the poster contest.

For more photos of the day’s events, visit our gallery on Facebook.

Funding now available for Business Solutions Projects

The Research & Innovation division is currently seeking Industry Partners who require assistance with business challenges such as market research; marketing & advertising plans; and sales strategies & prospect lists. Funding is available for those in Manufacturing or the Food & Beverage sector. See our Current Opportunities page for more information.