Brewery Research Assistant, Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre
Located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus of Niagara College, the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre team 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 labeling, the CFWI Innovation Centre pairs industry partners with faculty, recent graduates and students with the right expertise and equipment to meet industry needs.
The successful candidate will be currently enrolled in the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations program and will have the opportunity to assist with beverage analysis and product development with the CFWI Innovation Centre. On-campus work and remote work is required.
New partnership expands range of facilities and brings aerospace R&D capabilities
Today, Centennial College becomes the newest member of the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a Niagara College-led consortium of post-secondary academic institutions that provides competitive, disruptive and innovative solutions to Ontario’s manufacturers.
The partnership will expand the range of facilities and expertise available to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and extend SONAMI’s reach further into Southern Ontario. The addition of Toronto’s Centennial College to SONAMI now brings the total in the network to eight postsecondary partners, including: Conestoga, Fanshawe, Lambton, Mohawk, Niagara and Sheridan colleges and McMaster University.
Through the centralized SONAMI hub, member institutions pool their resources and talent to match them to the needs of SMEs in various industries, giving them access to cutting-edge technologies, knowledge and funding in order to de-risk their applied R&D, create innovative new products and optimize processes. Targeted industries include agri-food, health, environmental, computer and electronic automation, industrial internet of things technology (IIoT), traditional manufacturing – and now expanded capacity in aerospace and aviation, with the addition of Centennial College’s Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES). Centennial has been a leader in aviation for more than 40 years, and its Bombardier Centre for Aerospace and Aviation at Downsview Campus is in the first phase of development of an Aerospace Hub at Downsview Park.
“Centennial College is honoured to have been chosen to join SONAMI. We look forward to working with local industry partners and the other academic institutions in the SONAMI network to help SMEs in Southern Ontario develop their technologies in advanced manufacturing,” said Jonathan Hack, executive director, ARIES. “We will be leveraging the state-of-the-art equipment located at our Downsview Campus, and the expertise of academic experts and staff within our ARIES department, to continue developing the transformative potential of additive manufacturing technologies of the aerospace industry.”
In 2019, the award-winning SONAMI entered its second phase after a significant reinvestment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), following a successful first three years. With this continued support came the announcement the network would increase its membership to 10 postsecondary partners, enhancing its reach to help manufacturers innovate.
Since its inception, industry partners have benefitted from collaborative projects by: increasing sales, reducing manufacturing costs, diversifying product lines, and realizing their innovative ideas. SONAMI partners have worked with more than 200 SMEs to complete more than 265 projects, created or maintained 140 permanent jobs and provided skills and training for hundreds of students to prepare them for future jobs.
“Centennial College’s focus on aerospace, aviation and automation brings a unique set of capabilities to SONAMI, further enhancing support for manufacturers,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, vice-president, Research & External Relations at Niagara College.
“By welcoming this institution – with its strong history of applied research – to the partnership, the network will advance its resources available to assist SMEs to remain competitive by offering leading-edge solutions for industry partners,” said Nantel, who is also the chair of the SONAMI Steering Committee. “At the same time, we continue to provide more students with the opportunities to gain essential skills by working alongside research staff and faculty on real-world projects.”
To access the advanced manufacturing network, representatives from interested businesses can contact SONAMI’s project manager, Sarah Dimick, at [email protected]. For more information about the network, please visit the SONAMI website.
Centennial College has several focused applied research activities in aerospace, advanced manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, sustainable energy systems and data analytics. A significant amount of Centennial’s applied research activity is in partnership with the School of Engineering Technology and Applied Sciences (SETAS) and School of Transportation (SOT), and programs at Downsview Campus place the school at the forefront of Aviation and Aerospace training in Canada.
NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division administers research funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers and assist industry partners with leaping forward in the marketplace.
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.
FedDev Ontariohas actively worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy for nearly 12 years through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in Southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. For more information view FedDev Ontario’s pivotal projects.
In August 2019, FedDev Ontario announced a reinvestment contribution of $14 million towards a five-year project (through to December 2023). With that award came the announcement the network would grow to 10 partners, enhancing its reach to help manufacturers innovate.
Niagara College received the 2019 Research Partnership Award from the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) for the significant impact SONAMI has had on the regional economy.
Through specialized expertise, resources and R&D capabilities, SONAMI partners have a broad range of capabilities that provide effective innovation and technology transfer in areas of automation, additive manufacturing, product testing & validation, Industry 4.0, process optimization, simulation & modelling, and digitally-enabled and intelligent manufacturing.
SMEs wanting to innovate but do not have the resources of time, knowledge/skills or finances to take them to the next level can de-risk their R&D by leveraging a 1:1 funding match on projects. This could reduce overall project costs by up to 50 per cent and help more manufacturers participate.
One of the largest duck farms in Canada, King Cole Ducks is a third-generation, family-owned and operated agribusiness that started more than 65 years ago. Their farm-to-fork focus on duck production includes breeding, hatching, growing, processing and cooking for consumers and the foodservice industry.
The Stouffille, Ont. company is known for practising sustainable, responsible farming, raising their ducks in a free-run environment with a hormone- and antibiotic-free diet. Over the past decade, the company has expanded its collection of raw, ready-to-cook products to include a variety of fully cooked products to serve customers throughout North America and beyond.
The management team of four sisters wanted to challenge “what we know” and looked to Niagara College’s Business & Commercialization Solutions team to help with market intel.
“After seven decades in the duck business, how could our company and products continue to evolve to fit the changing interests of Canadian consumers,” asked Patti Thompson, vice president, sales and marketing for King Cole Ducks. “The project posed to the Niagara College team was ‘help us validate who is eating duck, who could be eating duck and how we should move forward with marketing efforts and products that will serve a new customer.’”
The Research & Innovation team conducted in-depth research of competition in the market, duck consumption, how King Cole was positioned, where potential markets could be developed and nurtured and how to best reach new customers.
For team member Angela Walsh, a student in NC’s Honours Bachelor of Business Administration (International Commerce and Global Development) program, it was her first project as a research assistant since joining the Business & Commercialization Solutions centre last October.
“Through this project, myself and other research assistants conducted an environmental scan of the duck industry – a challenging first market to navigate – which included a market analysis and competitive analysis, in order to come up with promotional plans on how King Cole Ducks could reach new markets,” says Walsh.
“The information provided validated our experience to date, but inspired a more robust effort in connecting with new customers through a wider range of marketing efforts and platforms. In fact, it inspired a larger budget commitment to product innovation and marketing support.”
~ Patti Thompson, King Cole Ducks
She says the team developed a target market based on the size, anticipated growth, patterns of meat consumption and personal values. Trends in the current food and flavour market, as well as opportunities for creating new products, were also introduced. And in its recommendations as to changing the brand perception, the team advised that social media should be used for the largest shift.
“The information provided validated our experience to date, but inspired a more robust effort in connecting with new customers through a wider range of marketing efforts and platforms,” explains Thompson. “In fact, it inspired a larger budget commitment to product innovation and marketing support.”
For example, the company is now in the process of changing packaging that will feature QR codes to help educate their consumers at point of sale and they have added targeted social media campaigns to help share their story, and are launching a virtual cooking class to reach more consumers across the country, adds Thompson.
“The research completed by Niagara College was a wonderful opportunity for us to learn more about our customers and meet our new customers,” says Thompson. “The results have helped us redirect our marketing efforts to include a more well-rounded integrated marketing plan with a focus on digital marketing where we can reach a younger demographic.”
For research assistant Walsh, it was a chance to not only learn about a new market, but also contribute important intel to enable a company to move forward with a stronger effort in the consumer retail space.
“As I enter the final year of my degree and prepare for grad school, I have found the experience to be extremely valuable in preparing me for my future,” adds Walsh.
The research project was possible thanks to funding from the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), through the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program.
To learn more about the capabilities offered by the Business & Commercialization Solutions team or discover how initial feasibility research is helpful prior to engaging with Research & Innovation for applied research projects visit the website.
Growing up, and in a household surrounded by five other siblings, it was Kaitlyn (Kate) Jonker who stood out as the high-energy and outgoing one.
“My parents always said I didn’t stop talking and I didn’t really have a filter – I just said it how it was,” she says.
Today, in her second year of the Business – Sales and Marketing program at Niagara College – and mid-way through her co-op as research assistant with the Business & Commercialization Solutions team with the Research & Innovation division – she remains just as spirited, loves to talk and works the “zoom” room like a pro.
“I guess today I still carry on those traits except I like to think I have more of a filter now,” she laughs. “But I’m a social person with lots to say on issues that are important to me. I’ve always loved working and talking with people with a problem-solver attitude.”
Her energetic and social temperament – something she says she inherited from her father – ostensibly helped shape her career path.
Yet, she didn’t always know what she wanted to pursue, only that her dream was to attend Niagara College. Ultimately, it was her dad who took her to his company for a visit with the sales and marketing manager. She knew that was her calling.
A wise choice, given her penchant for presenting and speaking in front of people – an essential skill in her chosen vocation and one she had cultivated while still in high school. There, she and some classmates worked on a project that required raising awareness for an initiative in a developing country, and successfully pitched the campaign to a not-for-profit organization panel.
“My group and I actually ended up going so far that we presented our project to multiple schools and at events,” says Jonker. “Our project was taken across the world to be carried on by the non-profit organization.”
“I love being a part of helping others by using my problem-solving skills, as well as brainstorming with other members of the research team.”
During her studies at NC she has received even more opportunities to sharpen her public speaking abilities and has learned to love social media, advertising and promotions. Still, it wasn’t until she started working with real businesses, on official marketing plans, with the Business & Commercialization team, that thing really came into focus for the 19-year-old.
“While working with businesses, I almost have to remind myself each time I work that this is not just a school project – this is a real client’s business!” she says. “Working on these research projects has really allowed me to put to practice what I have learned in the classroom and apply it in the real world and for that I am grateful to Paula Reile, my project manager, and Research & Innovation, for the experience and opportunity this position has given me.”
Her first project was for a client operating a high-end lifestyle website wanting market research assistance to bring their brand from the web to store shelves in North America. It was something she was completely unfamiliar with, but eager to learn about.
Jonker and her fellow research assistants developed marketing strategies to help with a successful entry into the market, with detailed promotional, branding, packaging and distribution recommendations.
“I really enjoyed working with the business team to come up with ideas and strategies for the client’s business,” she notes. “I love being a part of helping others by using my problem-solving skills as well as brainstorming with other members of the research team.”
Yet, even with all the brainstorming, this past year has been difficult for Jonker, forcing the sociable people-person to pivot to a more isolated environment while studying and working remotely at her Smithville-based home. Despite this, Jonker has skillfully used it as a learning experience.
“It’s not always easy to motivate yourself to keep going, especially when I am such an extrovert and thrive off being around people,” she explains. “Balancing the crazy online school life and this job has been extremely challenging and time consuming, but it’s taught me patience and time management skills to get the work done and on time.”
She has also had to redirect her high-energy nature from her regular sports life – a passion she’s held since childhood – and in which she’s usually taken a lead role, either playing or coaching.
“Sports has been my life and I love everything about it – the energy, the competitiveness, the rush – I guess it’s fair to say that I miss it a lot with lockdown.”
For now, she gets outside into nature, spending time with her boyfriend Joel, as well as her family.
She’s also thinking about her next move once she graduates this April.
“I am really excited to take what I have learned as a business research assistant and apply it to my future career – though I’m not sure what that might be.”
The Niagara College Cannabis Production Research Chamber to provide new research opportunities in applied cannabis research
By Courtney De Caire, NC Communications
Niagara College has expanded its unique on-campus cannabis education capabilities to include a new Cannabis Production Research Chamber. The new facility will provide the required space and specialized equipment to grow crops, complete trials, and conduct research in partnership with the cannabis industry.
Located at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this new research space – which is affectionately called the “CannaResearchBunker” – is comprised of two retrofitted sea containers that have been connected to the existing academic facility (the original “CannaBunker”). The expansion is part of the Niagara College Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC) – a centre within the college’s Research & Innovation division.
“The installation of the CannaResearchBunker will allow Niagara College to expand our trailblazing work with the cannabis industry,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, vice president, Research & External Relations. “With this dedicated cannabis research facility and access to state-of-the-art equipment, our staff and students can push forward our vision of being a globally recognized teaching, training and applied research institute.”
Niagara College’s Commercial Cannabis Production program – the first of its kind in Canada – was launched in 2018 and has seen significant interest from the cannabis community. The new Cannabis Production Research Chamber will allow Niagara College students and researchers to expand their research capacity beyond the academic space.
The AETIC Cannabis Production Research Chamber will enable the testing and utilization of sensors, unique lighting arrays, integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, and other innovative concepts that require applied research work prior to use in licensed producers’ spaces, and commercial adoption.
“Niagara College strives to provide our students with exceptional experiential learning opportunities and the addition of the CannaResearchBunker will enable our students to receive world-class, hands-on learning experience in cannabis cultivation research, which will prepare them for a successful career in the cannabis industry,” said Nantel.
The new research facility was made possible by a $149,918 grant to Niagara College through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) from the Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grants (ARTI) program.
Intake for research projects in the AETIC Cannabis Production Research Chamber will begin in the fall of 2021. For project inquiries, please reach out to Elizabeth Best, business development coordinator, at [email protected].
For more information about Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division and the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC), please visit the AETIC webpage.
NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division administers research funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers and assist industry partners with leaping forward in the marketplace. Students come from a variety of the College’s programs, such as Greenhouse Technician, Commercial Cannabis Production, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Culinary Innovation and Food Technology, Business Administration – Marketing, and Computer Programmer.
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.