Niagara College Establishes Beverage Centre of Excellence Thanks to NSERC Grant


WELLAND, Ont. — 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) Extend Innovation Enhancement (IE) 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 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’re able to better serve the needs of Ontario’s growing food-and-beverage industry,” says Marc Nantel, 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,” says Lyndon Ashton, centre manager, CFWI Innovation Centre.

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