Barely one month into its existence, the Industry Innovation Centre at Niagara College (IIC@N) is well on its way to helping local companies innovate and develop new products and processes by providing access to high-tech equipment and faculty and student expertise.
The centre, located at the Welland Campus in the Rankin Technology Centre, was launched in May 2013. It supports local manufacturers by providing them with access to needed facilities, equipment, technical expertise, and services, helping small and medium-sized enterprises develop innovative solutions, such as new product development, process improvement, technology adoption, and expansion into new markets.
Since receiving up to $990,000 in federal funding this spring, Niagara College’s research and innovation division, Niagara Research, has reached out to the local business community to build awareness of the opportunities available through IIC@N. More than 50 local business representatives attended a recent information session to learn about the centre and the broad range of partnership opportunities, thanks to the equipment and expertise from faculty, staff and students available at Niagara College.
As a result, several potential collaborative projects have been identified between Niagara College and regionally based companies, across many sectors of manufacturing, and involving the diverse skills and equipment of IIC@N.
For example, Niagara-based Chocolate Products has begun working with a Niagara Research team to automate one of its manual processes. The project is aimed at improving efficiency, saving time and decreasing operating costs. Niagara Research has also partnered with W.S. Tyler, a St. Catharines-based manufacturing company of wire mesh screening materials. The partnership will assist the company in developing process improvements within its facilities.
“Niagara Research is thrilled to have received the support of FedDev to assist the advanced manufacturing sector in the Niagara Region,” said Dr. Marc Nantel, Associate Vice-President, Research & Innovation. “The funding will provide local companies with the opportunity to increase their innovation capacity through partnership with Niagara College in the development of new products or processes, access to state-of-the-market equipment, participation in educational workshops and events, as well as access to business and commercialization solutions.”
Funding for the IIC@N was announced in May by The Hon. Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), who made the announcement alongside Rick Dykstra, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines.
Through the FedDev Ontario’s Prosperity Initiative Program, Niagara College received up to $990,000 to establish IIC@N. The funding will support Niagara Research’s mandate in contributing to the Niagara Region’s economic development, through innovative partnerships with local SMEs. Niagara Research, the College’s research and innovation division, oversees the operations of IIC@N.
Provincial interest has also been shown in the centre, as the College recently hosted Niagara-West Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak, Leader of the Opposition in Ontario. Hudak toured the Rankin Technology Centre, met with students and faculty and learned hands-on about the equipment and facilities of IIC@N.
The role of Niagara Research is to provide real-world solutions for business, industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. To learn more about IIC@N, visit niagararesearch.ca, or email [email protected]