Category Archives: Research & Innovation

I-Comm student helps businesses thrive

Despite being a second-year business student, Mackenzie Haines credits his co-op with the Business & Commercialization Solutions (BCS) team for identifying the field in which he now sees himself working: helping businesses thrive.

“I feel like this position has really helped me to develop my professional skillset and develop a clearer vision of my career long term,” says Haines, a student in NC’s Honours Bachelor of Business Administration – International Commerce and Global Development program.

Alongside assisting small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), he points to one of the most interesting parts of his job as a research assistant with BCS: The uniqueness of each research project in which he’s involved. Every day and every project is different.

“I have worked on projects that cover the food industry, wine and spirits, horticulture products and the event and planning industry.”

In his role on the BCS team, Haines works on applied research projects to solve real-world problems relating to operations management, sales and marketing for SMEs. Projects include market research, competitive analysis, target market identification and marketing plans.

One of his favourite research projects was for an industry partner in the wine and spirits industry. He had the responsibility of carrying out the project entirely on his own.

“It was great being able to do such a comprehensive project myself because I had a chance to work on skills I learned during my in-class program.”

“I got experience doing an environmental scan of the industry, an analysis of potential competitors, a target market analysis, and I also looked at the packaging and promotional trends for the company,” explains Haines. “It was great being able to do such a comprehensive project myself because I had a chance to work on skills I learned during my in-class program.”

He and his business research team are currently working on a project for a partner in the event industry. A facility is looking to potentially update their business processes. “We are looking into new ways for this business to generate income and ways they can improve their current processes.”

Like many students during this past year, Haines has had to get used to the reduced presence on campus due to the pandemic. Besides interacting with other students, he misses the beauty of the grounds at the Daniel J. Patterson campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

His deep appreciation for the great outdoors fueled his first foray into college life when he enrolled in NC’s Horticulture Technician program – graduating in 2017.

While studying, Haines was hired as a research assistant with R&I’s Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC) for a co-op placement. He was involved in an applied research project that saw NC build a sustainable vegetable garden for a restaurant at the nearby White Oaks Resort.

Haines and another co-op student designed the garden and placed soil and mulch in separate plots. “We grew a variety of vegetables and ornamental flowers, including okra, tomatoes, nasturtium, kale, borage and strawberries,” Haines recalls. “That was a really interesting project!”

After graduating, Haines worked in landscaping for a few years. During one off-season, he was working in retail, where he met a co-worker who was enrolled in the Business – International Commerce program at NC.

“When I decided I wanted to go back to school, it was because I wanted to expand my career options; I was tired of how seasonal landscape work was, and I was enjoying my retail job, so I considered business as an option.”

Haines lives with his girlfriend and their dog and cat in Hamilton. While he’s still passionate about plants and growing his own food, he has also been perfecting his cooking skills throughout the pandemic.

“I have started trying to get better and challenge myself to learn new and different recipes,” he adds. “My current favourite is Italian food, and I have been practising making fresh pasta recently.”

The two also make time to enjoy the outdoors to either hike or camp.

“Pivotal” research for new market

Bill MacDonald, coordinator and professor of NC’s Commercial Cannabis Production (CCP) program, and Greg Marsh, president at Northern Hemp Specialists, inside the CannaBunker at the Daniel J. Patterson campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Agricultural company Northern Hemp Specialists Ltd. works with clients on finding organic solutions for growth and pathogen resistance for all plants, trees, ornamental flowers and even vineyards. More recently, they’ve found a customer base from medical and recreational cannabis growers, a sector that requires chemical and solvent-free organic soil products.

Today, the Toronto-based company is intent on revolutionizing the horticultural and agricultural industries with its latest technology. Named Mor-ganics, Northern Hemp Specialists describes the living soil products as “100 percent organic and which significantly boosts plant yields and eliminates pathogens,” says Greg Marsh, Northern Hemp Specialists president.

And while Northern Hemp Specialists is successfully selling Mor-ganics in Canada, they have their sights set on the growing United States market and beyond. First, they needed a thorough understanding of various growing markets and looked to the Business & Commercialization Solutions (BCS) team at Research & Innovation for in-depth market research.

“We needed to assess the risk of doing business in the United States and beyond, and to determine the viability of distributing our Mor-ganics in the U.S., by doing a detailed market analysis of the organic soil supplement industry for all types of agriculture,” explains Marsh.

He points out that because his Mor-ganics brand is unique to the agricultural and horticultural industries, a marketing plan was “pivotal” to help prepare for the next goals and strategies for a U.S. or international product launch.

The BCS team completed extensive research, first tackling a competitive analysis to understand how the company’s product would adapt to the competitive landscape. They also assessed risk factors, geographic trends, and completed a targeted market analysis after an environmental scan.

“The energy and positive attitude from the research team to leave no resource unexamined to get us the answers for this marketing study were superb,” Marsh notes. “They became a welcome part of our corporate team.”

“We needed to assess the risk of doing business in the United States and beyond, and to determine the viability of distributing our Mor-ganics in the U.S. by doing a detailed market analysis of the organic soil supplement industry for all types of agriculture.”
~ Greg Marsh, president, Northern Hemp Specialists

The BCS team created a distribution strategy to assist Northern Hemp Specialists with breaking into new markets while overcoming challenges and barriers that represent a business threat. The company was provided with resources to make ideal connections with partners that could be beneficial for sharing infrastructure, labour and expertise.

“The research made us critically aware of the various levels we can access within the market with both wholesale and retail offerings,” says Marsh, adding that the team also highlighted potential regulatory issues.

Marsh says Northern Hemp Specialists will now incorporate the valuable marketing research data into their business plan and prepare for their international launch in 2022.

This project received support through the Niagara College-led Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), as funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Visit the Business & Commercialization Solutions website to learn more about the capabilities offered by the team or discover how initial feasibility research is helpful prior to engaging with Research & Innovation for applied research projects.

Research model gains global audience

Adapted from original story by Madison Smith, communications specialist, International Division

Research & Innovation has been quietly, but effectively going global. Through a collaborative partnership between the R&I division and Global Education and Partnerships – International department, Niagara College (NC) delivers critical training for the development and execution of unique applied research models in other countries.

Two members of the Research & Innovation team at NC were invited to participate in the Conference of the Americas on International Education (CAIE), held virtually from October 19 to 22. Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo, PhD, scientific manager of R&I’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, was invited to speak, while Lyndon Ashton, centre manager at the CFWI Innovation Centre, helped with guiding strategic planning through interactive training workshops.

This initiative is part of the Pacific Alliance (PA) program, a global development investment managed by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) that focuses on sustainable development and skills for employment in Latin America. NC was awarded three contracts under the PA program in 2018, funded by Global Affairs Canada.

“Niagara College has a unique approach to applied research focused on collaboration and high levels of client, learner and expert engagement,” shared Vega-Lugo. “This adopts many private sector principles into public service delivery that I spoke to the group about. We have been successful in this way, and my hope is that our participants walked away better understanding the value of this approach and are motivated to find ways to incorporate learnings into their own institutional settings.”

“The applied research model at Niagara College fosters and enables collaboration through strategic partnership in the ecosystem to stimulate sustainable growth of the economy,”
~ Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo, PhD, scientific manager, CFWI Innovation Centre

After six years in a row of being ranked as a top 10 Canadian Research college and as recently as 2019, attaining the No. 1 spot, NC has recognized expertise in the development and growth of applied research centres in the post-secondary environment. In addition to showcasing NC’s model, Vega-Lugo highlighted what is possible through combined efforts from Niagara, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CiCan) and Global Affairs Canada, to provide training and support for the creation and implementation of Applied Research Centres for Latin America partners as a means to advance their own innovation agendas.

“The applied research model at Niagara College fosters and enables collaboration through strategic partnership in the ecosystem to stimulate sustainable growth of the economy,” explained Vega-Lugo. “Niagara College, in collaboration with CICan and Global Affairs Canada was able to provide training, equipment, and on-going support to Latin American countries to implement Centres of Applied Research for the first time. In this collaboration we supported five countries, seven institutes and 40 leaders that were actively involved.

“Being a Latin American-Canadian Scientist, it has been fulfilling to deliver training and support to implement centres of applied research following a collaborative business approach for the first time,” shared Vega-Lugo. “As part of the team, I helped delivered some of the training particular to business development and industry engagement in collaboration with the other departments.”

Ashton also took part in guiding Pacific Alliance colleagues through methods and approaches to establish applied research and innovation programs and centres in their institute through a comprehensive set of interactive, online training workshops. In addition, he supported the strategic planning process and was responsible for recognizing all the training participants with their successful completion of the program earlier this year.

“We are fortunate to live, work, and play in a country that has focused efforts for decades on building capacity in basic and applied research through our post-secondary educational frameworks,” shared Ashton. “Particularly in the last 10 to 15 years there has been a significant push at federal and provincial levels to increase this capability in applied research supports aimed directly at boosting domestic and global competitiveness among our small- and medium-sized businesses.

“We are now in a position, having learned from our mistakes and our successes, to be able to share our approach with the world. This training is significant because it has the potential to fast-track our international colleagues along the same continuum we are travelling, and assist in avoiding some of the pitfalls, while benefiting from proven concepts to employ customized research and innovation programs in their own communities and institutions.”

“With respect to research and innovation, this can be seen through sharing of best practices and learnings focused on increasing capabilities and capacities for post-secondary applied research centres to collaborate effectively with target local industries in need of commercialization and training supports,”
~ Lyndon Ashton, centre manager, CFWI Innovation Centre

Ashton explained that knowledge exchange and capacity building are at the heart of NC’s approach to research and innovation, so, it only makes sense that they extend this belief to their work in the international arena. “In our line of work, the target audiences for this support are industry partners, students, and staff – fulfilling our economic, workforce, and talent development mandates.

“In this case, our audience is more akin to a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach where we are helping build knowledge capacity with our institutional colleagues from across the globe.”

As a professional economic developer, the initiative spoke to Ashton on a very deep level. “I’m always looking for ways that my ongoing learning and leadership experiences can be leveraged to assist others in ways that benefit our communities in the pursuit of opportunity and accessibility to improved socio-economic and workforce development tools and success,” noted Ashton. “With respect to research and innovation, this can be seen through sharing of best practices and learnings focused on increasing capabilities and capacities for post-secondary applied research centres to collaborate effectively with target local industries in need of commercialization and training supports.”

As Canada’s leading global college, Niagara College has successfully completed more than 100 capacity building and training projects in more than 25 countries over the past 20 years, including Barbados, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Grenada, Jamaica, Malawi, Mexico, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Vietnam. For more information on Global Education and Partnerships and how to get involved, visit ncglobal.ca.

NOW HIRING: Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant (Co-op) position with our WAMIC team

Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant (Co-op)

The Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant will have a comprehensive skill set to work with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team, Faculty Leads and Industry Partners on a variety of time-sensitive projects. The successful candidate may work on research projects or technical services in Additive manufacturing, Product Design & Development, Product Testing, Reality/Spatial Capture, Reverse Engineering and Lean Manufacturing Assessment. Hours completed during this work term may be used toward your co-operative placement hours.

See the full Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant (Jr. Co-op) job posting. To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, transcript and school schedule to [email protected] and reference ‘WAMIC21-01’ in the subject line.
The deadline to apply is Friday, November 26th, 2021 at 4pm.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

POSITION AVAILABLE: Electronics Research Assistant position available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Electronics Engineering Research Assistant, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

The Electronics Engineering Technology Research Assistant will have a comprehensive skill set to work with Research Leads, Research Project Manager, and Industry Partners in the development of electronic systems. The Research Assistant will report to the Research Project Manager. Some duties will include assisting in the design, building and testing of electronics systems, troubleshooting and improving the developed circuits and systems and implementing robotic-based platforms (i.e. Arduino and Raspberry Pi) and related software.

Click HERE for the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, November 17th at 12pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, class schedule and transcript to [email protected] and reference posting ‘WAMIC21-02’ in the subject line.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

NOW HIRING: Computer Programmer Research Assistant position with our AETIC team

Computer Programmer Research Assistant, Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre

 
The successful candidate will work with the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre team. The work includes programming, testing and troubleshooting of agricultural data management and mapping web software. The position could involve development of web/cloud/IoT services, and helping to develop robotics technology. You will work with senior team members in Computer Programming and the Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Precision Agriculture & Environmental Technologies.

Click HERE for the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 at 12pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter and transcript to [email protected] and reference job posting ‘COMPUTER PROGRAMMER RESEARCH ASSISTANT – AETIC‘.

 

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.