A new network for research and technology in Southern Ontario’s greenhouse sector is about to blossom, thanks to $5 million in new FedDev Ontario funding that will allow Niagara College to create an innovative Greenhouse Technology Network.
On September 3, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey announced the project at Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, where the network will be anchored. The ground-breaking new initiative will bring together research institutions, greenhouse growers and technology providers to accelerate the development, commercialization and adoption of new technologies that will ultimately increase the competitiveness of the greenhouse industry.
The network will accomplish this by conducting collaborative projects, where industry partners will work side-by-side with faculty, scientists, graduates and students from the University of Guelph, Vineland Research & Innovation Centre, and Niagara College, to develop technology solutions to address industry challenges and to share those findings.
A new, modern greenhouse will also be raised at Niagara College, equipped with sustainable technologies that will serve as pilot projects for greenhouse industry partners. Technology industry partners will also make use of the greenhouse to develop new products, processes and services for the greenhouse industry. These new products from Ontario companies will enable better use of energy and water in greenhouses, and establish the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 principles that will be crucial for industry in Ontario and beyond.
“Niagara College is thankful that the government has so enthusiastically supported our project to create a new Greenhouse Technology Network in Southern Ontario,” said Niagara College president Dan Patterson, PhD. “This ground-breaking new initiative will combine our longstanding tradition of excellence and leadership in the horticultural and agri-business sectors with our experience in conducting world-class applied research to further encourage innovation and develop new technologies in this rapidly evolving field.”
Niagara College has a long history and deep experience in engaging academic, research and industry partners in various proven models, including the highly successful Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), which serves as the model for the Greenhouse Technologies Network. The Network will help stimulate the economy in Niagara, and across Southern Ontario, and is forecast to support over 130 businesses and organizations in projects that could create over 200 new jobs.
“This investment by FedDev will mean a lot to our greenhouse and technology industries in Southern Ontario, but also to students who will be able to participate in applied research projects, putting into practice what they have learnt in the classroom, in collaboration with industry partners” said Marc Nantel, NC’s vice-president, Research, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives. “The Greenhouse Technology Network will transform these students into industry leaders, and unlock new job opportunities, as well as a greener future.”
“This project will create a more diverse economy for Niagara, boosting our strong agri-business and digital media sectors, while adding good jobs for the region we call home,” said MP Badawey. “Our region continues to join forces and collaborate with our post-secondary institutions to keep jobs and opportunities local,” added MP Bittle.
Source: Niagara College