Federal grant lets Georgian deepen collaboration with regional manufacturers

On hand for the NSERC announcement at Georgian College were, left to right: Zvi Lifshiz, Executive Director, Invest Barrie; Don Gordon, Chair, Georgian College Board of Governors; Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO, Georgian College; The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport; Dr. Mira Ray, Director of Research and Innovation, Georgian College; Dr. Marc Fortin, Chief Operating Officer and Vice-President, Research Partnerships, NSERC; Warden George Cornell, County of Simcoe; Janice Skot, President and CEO, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre; and Kevin Weaver, Vice President, Academic, Georgian College. (Georgian College / Doug Crawford)
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A $2 million grant from the federal government will help Georgian College support the needs of regional manufacturers, college officials say.
The college is getting a BUILD Innovation Enhancement (BUILD IE) grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program.
The announcement was made Thursday at the Barrie Campus by Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport.
The grant, to be disbursed over five years, will be used toward Georgian’s Competitive Smart Manufacturing (CSM) program – a growing part of research and innovation at the college. 
“Georgian’s CSM program supports regional manufacturers with the implementation of advanced technologies and information strategies that ultimately improve traditional approaches to manufacturing and boost competitiveness,” said Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College.
“Our program has grown steadily over the past two years. With this NSERC funding, Georgian is well positioned to double its CSM activity within five years.”
The program operates out of the Alectra Centre for Research, Innovation and Commercialization (C-RIC), located in Georgian’s Peter B. Moore Advanced Technology Centre. 
The college recently invested funds, contributed by individual donors and local industry partners, to equip the C-RIC with most of the Industry 4.0 infrastructure required by the CSM program to operate. Additional required equipment – including a virtual reality system, 3D scanner and printer, and fabrication machinery – will be purchased with the BUILD IE funds and research projects will focus on the development of smart products and production systems, Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, automation and robotics.
“Georgian will leverage the $2 million from NSERC and funding from partners to invest $6 million over five years toward Competitive Smart Manufacturing collaborative research activities with small to medium-sized companies,” said Dr. West-Moynes. “It is this competitiveness that ensures good jobs and attracts new opportunities to stay and grow in our community.”
The funding will also make training industry, students and faculty on advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies a priority.
“The NSERC BUILD IE grant will allow new ways for Georgian to contribute to the growing research and innovation cluster in Central Ontario, ultimately leading to a stronger region, province and country,” said Dr. Mira Ray, Director of Research and Innovation at Georgian.
“This grant gives our researchers the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with local companies to advance their research and development objectives.”
Dr. Ray added that this is an exciting time for Georgian’s students and researchers.
“New technology, increased connectivity, and access to data are changing the way products are developed and made,” she said. “Through Georgian’s CSM program, we have already helped companies make decisions regarding large infrastructure equipment investments, integrate Industry 4.0 practices into their operations, and look at their data with new, critical perspectives.”
The funds Georgian received were part of an announcement by Minister Duncan of $57 million awarded to 77 recipients through the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, one of the largest vehicles for funding research at colleges, polytechnics and CÉGEPs across the country. The CCI program develops highly skilled people, builds research knowledge and provides opportunities to share this expertise with local businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized companies, to improve processes and technologies.