Posts by Applied Research

iCARE Researcher Spotlight: Neil Cooke

May 20, 2014 • Written by

Welcome to the first edition of Red River College’s Inventory of College Applied Research Expertise Researcher Spotlight. Check back on a regular basis to learn more about the researchers that are available to help you solve problems and innovate.

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Neil Cooke, chair of transportation heavy apprenticeship trades at Red River College

Neil Cooke is the chair of transportation heavy apprenticeship trades at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus, a position he has held since 2006.

At this post he oversees a combined staff of 60 employees situated around Red River College campuses, including the Heavy Equipment Training Centre (HETC) and  building “M” at the Notre Dame Campus, Bannister Avenue heavy trades building, and the CN Transcona rail training facility. Enrolment in the apprenticeship trades hovers around 2,000 students annually, making Cooke a key figure for the future of Manitoba’s skilled trades workers in the heavy transportation sector.

Cooke holds his interprovincial certification as a heavy-duty technician, a masters degree in education (M. Ed. Post Secondary Administration) from the University of Manitoba and a bachelor of science (B.Sc. Tech Ed) from Ferris State University. With a diverse educational and experiential history behind him, he is acutely aware that our future workforce is key to the province’s continued success.

“From a research perspective, what we are now doing is embedding our applied research in the curriculum we deliver. This is done so we are preparing our students to think a little differently about the technological changes that they are going to face within the motive power industry,” said Cooke.

iCARE logo 200x60

RRC FACULTY: Tell us about your expertise and help us grow with iCARE

Neil Cooke has already completed his iCARE survey, now his skills and resources can be found — along with our applied research experts at the College — in our iCARE database.
Complete your iCARE survey today and let us know your areas of expertise!

FOR INDUSTRY: Did you know?

  • 55% of iCARE respondents hold at least a Master’s level degree
  • 35% of respondents have over 20 years of industry experience

“We might not even recognize our transportation industry in five, ten, fifteen years from now, and these students are going to have to become adaptable to change. That’s what we are hoping we are doing by inserting applied research into our basic curriculum.”

At HETC, the majority of applied research work that is done concerns the future of motive power, namely zero emissions electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, and the utilization and creation of biodiesel.

On the electric vehicle front, HETC was instrumental in getting the wheels turning on Winnipeg’s first all-electric, zero emissions transit bus which the College developed along with industry partners New Flyer Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Manitoba Hydro and the Province of Manitoba.

While Mitsubishi supplied the lithium ion batteries, it was up to HTEC to take the raw battery components and configure them to perform optimally in New Flyer’s Xcelsior bus.

“On the first run [at configuring the battery packs] Mitsubishi’s engineers came here and oversaw the assembly of the units,” said Cooke.

“For the second run they wanted to change the configurations of the battery packs – some of which are located in the regular engine compartment in a diesel bus configuration in the Xcelsior series, while the secondary pack goes on the roof. So they wanted a different engine bay configuration.

HETC vast interior shot 300

At nearly 60,000 square feet, HETC offers ample room for training and construction. It houses nine classrooms and provides enough floor space to work on nine large vehicles simultaneously.

One of our manufacturing technologists here on staff – along with some students – put together a new design, did the testing and put it all in a package which New Flyer Industries then installed.”

This new configuration saw the all-electric bus through rigorous, real world tests on Winnipeg’s roads this past winter (which was the coldest winter on record in over a century) as the bus was used to transport Manitoba Hydro employees from their Taylor Avenue office to their downtown headquarters.

It was the first time an all-electric transit bus and rapid charging station were demonstrated in such conditions, and the applied research project has now entered its next phase with four new buses being rolled out in the near future – all of which HETC staff and students will have a hand in.

Regarding biodiesel, applied research at HETC has been instrumental in both lessening the College’s Notre Dame campus’ carbon footprint, while laying solid groundwork for making biodiesel production more efficient. In fact, HETC is one of only three licensed biodiesel producing facilities in Manitoba.

biodiesel reactor 300x250

Red River College has been producing its own biodiesel since 2010.

“We originally purchased a small biodiesel reactor and, from the used vegetable oil out of RRC kitchens, we can produce about 150 litres per cycle in a four and a half hour period,” said Cooke. “But we weren’t happy with the design and the capacity of the unit as our demand increased, so we modified it and made it bigger.”

“Mike Myrowich, our lead instructor on the project, then got a second small grant from the College Applied Research Development (CARD) Fund and built a biodiesel reactor with our boilermakers, our ironworkers and our welding department, along with some of the tech people from our electrical department.

We now have one that produces 450 litres in the same cycle time. And the residual material we get out of that is biodegradable – it is about a handful of waste that you can throw out while the rest we can make cleaning products out. So we’ve repurposed something you would normally have to pay to take away and then we use it in our grounds equipment here, they burn the fuel.”

HETC also had the ability to produce their own hydrogen, which they use for applied research projects on a hydrogen-hybrid equipped vehicle. The College leased a hydrogen electrolyser to produce hydrogen for the project with industry partner Manitoba Hydro and the Sun/Ice bus that involved studying a converted bus with a Ford Triton V-10 engine designed to run on hydrogen.

In short, if there is a project that involves making heavy-duty vehicles more energy efficient, cost effective, and better for the environment, then HETC is looking in to it. Because of this, along with their ability to produce expert technicians and mechanics, HETC has become beacon for generous donations from national, Winnipeg-based trucking companies like Maxim Truck and Trailer and Bison Transport.

Before embarking into the pedagogical field, Cooke had demonstrated over 30 years of industry experience working in Manitoba’s transportation sector, where he still keeps close contacts. He’s worked extensively in the heavy truck industry as a technician, mechanic and consultant, while he currently sits as the chair of the Canadian Association of Motive Power Educators and as an executive member of the Canadian National Accreditation Board for motive power programming. In early 2014, Cooke was also appointed by the federal government to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); a major distinction considering there are only 12 council members from across Canada.

Notre Dame Campus' Heavy Equipment Transportation Centre (HETC)

Exterior of Notre Dame Campus’ HETC

While Cooke has been the chair of transportation heavy apprenticeship trades at Red River College for the past eight years, he will admit he does still long for the classroom, as his first foray into the College was as an instructor and academic coordinator for transportation math and science.

“For thirteen years I was an instructor here and I still miss that,” said Cooke. “The most interesting part is interacting with the students then seeing them come back as apprentices, or seeing them come back for product service training and seeing how they have developed and seeing how their career is doing.

I find that very interesting, especially when you go out to visit a carrier’s office and you see a former student – especially now that a lot of them are now supervisors or managers. They’ve really moved through the system and it is rewarding, and a lot of that can be attributed to the hands on experience they get here assisting with our applied research projects.”

Golfers could face better greens due to applied research at Red River College

May 6, 2014 • Written by
Greenskeeper removing tarp to see how green faired over the winter (Jayne Geisel)

Greenskeeper removing tarp to see how green faired over the winter (Jayne Geisel)

While we’d like to think that the grass is always greener here at Red River College (RRC), that literally could be the case for Manitoba’s future golf greens due to Jayne M. Geisel’s current applied research.

Last year Geisel was awarded with $9,125 through the 2013 College Applied Research Development (CARD) Fund for a joint project with the Manitoba Golf Superintendent Association (MGSA) on the evaluation of over-wintering systems of putting greens.

For Geisel, a horticulturist who is an instructor in the Greenspace Management program at RRC, working on golf greens provided a unique opportunity.

“It’s interesting for me because I’m not a turf person; I don’t golf at all, I think I maybe have once in my life,” said Geisel.

“The Manitoba Golf Superintendents’ Association asked me If I could assist because I have a background in applied research; I worked 10 years for a company that mainly did research on potatoes and other vegetable crops, and it was applied field research rather than pure research at a university.”

The MGSA pitched in nearly $12 thousand for the study, bringing the project’s total to $21,510 over the course of several years.  

The study involves observing three of the in-play greens at five Manitoba golf courses – those being Boissevain, Elmhurst, St. Charles, Pinawa, and Bel Acres – under three different environments. Some of the greens have wintered under a semi permeable plastic mesh cover that allows water and air to travel through; another set have been housed under a sandwich-like design, featuring a semi permeable cover with about 18 inches of flax straw with an impermeable tarp on top; while the remaining greens were the control, featuring just a sand base over the greens.

Patches of snow mould surround the SMT sensor

Patches of snow mould surround the SMT sensor (Jayne Geisel)

Under the tarps Geisel set up sensors from Canadian company Structure Monitoring Technology (SMT) – whose equipment has frequently been utilized by AR&C at our Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure to test air leakage of buildings and fenestration materials.

On the greens, the SMT sensors monitored the conditions faced by the grasses over fall and winter, chiefly measuring temperature and carbon dioxide levels.

“One of the big problems that grass has is it’s physiologically active all the time. Unlike trees that lose their leaves and are dormant, grass isn’t. If you move the snow, grass is still green, and when plants are green, they are doing something,” said Geisel.

“They use oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. So we are reading carbon dioxide to say ‘if they use up all the available oxygen and then have to switch their respiration into anaerobic respiration – using carbon dioxide instead – then basically they’re fermenting under these covers,’ and there will be all sorts of problems.”

These problems range from grass disease to mechanical damage from shifting snow and ice which the covers themselves mitigate through the limiting of freeze/thaw cycles.

“Putting greens are a really challenging environment for those plants because they are kept so short – like turf normally would be tall – and these plants are cut at 1/8 inch and they have tiny little root systems so they are very stressed plants all the time,” said Geisel.

“What these guys (the MGSA) are trying to do is get these plants – that are close to death all the time – through our really harsh winter. And of course, they are the most important part of a golf course.”

This is the first such study of its kind in Manitoba, while previous over-wintering golf green studies in Alberta, in Ontario at the University of Guelph, and in the Northeastern US and Finland have all been performed in labs or controlled environments.

The greens that are part of the study are now being played, as all five courses are now open for the season.

And despite the severity of cold during this past winter — where average temperatures were colder than they have been for over a century — Geisel said the SMT sensors held up in collecting data as deep snow insulated the surface of the greens, allowing them to hover around -5 C even while temperatures above ground regularly dropped below -20 C.

With the first phase of this multiyear study now completed, Geisel admits there remains a learning curve as to what this first winter’s data can reveal.

Geisel and the superintendents have found both fungal disease and mechanical damage, but it is too early to tell if/how the SMT sensors can pinpoint the root causes and how those can be addressed in the fall and over the winter.

“We are not so much monitoring our good conditions, we are trying to say, ‘have they got into a bad condition?’ and trying to figure out when and how that happens,” said Geisel.

The findings of this project could benefit both the project partner as well as golf courses residing in Northern climates. Golf courses might be able to better maintain greens despite winter conditions — saving them from having to offer discounted green fees in the spring as well as avoiding costly renovations to damaged/dead greens.

Geisel’s main partner in the study is Greg Mitchell, the president of the MGSA, who she credits with showing a great deal of trust. (If the study was on tee boxes that would be one thing, but we all know you ‘drive for show’ and ‘putt for dough’).

“These superintendents are handing their putting greens basically over to us and we are telling them how they have to manage them going into the fall, and when the covers are coming off in the spring. And they are willing to partner with me to do that,” said Geisel.

“So it is significant from their side too. Golfers aren’t necessarily the most forgiving.”

Manitoba’s new electric bus and charging system – revolutionizing clean energy public transportation systems

May 2, 2014 • Written by

The future of Manitoba’s all-electric, zero emissions public transit system is on track.

After a year of shuttling Manitoba Hydro employees from their Taylor Avenue office building to the new downtown location, the all-electric bus and its corresponding rapid battery charging station has passed the real world test of operating in Winnipeg’s winter conditions.

“We are pleased with the performance of the electric bus and charging station over the course of this harsh, especially cold, winter,” said Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research and Commercialization at Red River College. “It has shown that an innovative and environmentally friendly electric transit bus can operate in climate that can be as trying as ours.”

The prototype electric bus was developed and tested through a partnership between the Manitoba government, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), New Flyer Industries, Manitoba Hydro and Red River College.

“This partnership and the resultant prototype Zero Emissions Transit Bus proves how integral college-based applied research can be for companies, industry partners, the environment and the public at large,” said Hoemsen.

The Province of Manitoba, MHI and Manitoba Hydro each contributed $1 million toward developing the prototype electric bus.

In partnership with the City of Winnipeg, four more electric buses are being produced that will be added to the Winnipeg Transit fleet and used on regular transit routes. The prototype bus will remain on loan to Winnipeg Transit until all four new electric buses have completed the testing phase..

“The return of electrically-powered public transportation to the streets of Winnipeg is an exciting development for Manitobans and Manitoba Hydro,” said Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Scott Thomson.

“During this initiative we were part of a team that developed a high capacity charging system which is the first of its size in Canada. At Manitoba Hydro, we have to ensure that our electrical distribution system will be able to economically and safely handle the impacts of more electrical vehicles. This new bus is helping us assess that impact,” Thomson continued.

Red River College’s research staff, students and instructors worked on this project through the College’s Electric Vehicle Technology & Education Centre. Specifically, they helped develop the electric charging system, assemble and monitor the electric bus battery for the original prototypes, modify and integrate the battery packs for the two new prototypes now being developed, and assisted in the demonstration phase of this project.

The charging system is activated when the bus drives up and a bar on top of the bus automatically lifts to connect to the charger. The speed and efficiency of this charging system, which can replenish the energy used during one hour of operation in under four minutes, will benefit transit schedules and rider convenience.

“Red River College has a history of innovating, promoting and performing applied research in the sustainable transportation sector,” said Stephanie Forsyth, president & CEO of Red River College. “We are a leader in applied research in this country and we are proud that we could offer our deep technical expertise to this project.”

With the realization of a greener public transportation future now in view for Winnipeg, it would appear that these electric powered wheels are only gaining momentum.

“The City of Winnipeg is proud to partner with the Province of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro, New Flyer, and Red River College on this progressive and innovative project,” said Mayor Sam Katz.

“City Council is committed to supporting opportunities that provide economic growth in our community, and that showcase the leadership found in our City. We’re eager to share Winnipeg Transit’s expertise with our project partners during the testing phase of this project and look forward to further testing four state-of-the-art electric buses later this year.”

Innovative Manitoba food products fight it out this weekend at Jane’s Restaurant

May 2, 2014 • Written by

Food fight photo

While we hope none of the competitors actually drop their gloves, we’re certain that your taste buds will take some tasty punches at this year’s Great Manitoba Food Fight (GMFF).

The 8th annual event, which Red River College (RRC) will host at Jane’s Restaurant on Saturday, May 3, will feature 10 entrepreneurial culinary competitors whose new food products will duke it out for $25,500 to help commercialize their enterprise.

RRC’s Culinary Arts students will also be getting in on the action with ten of our aspiring chefs competing for the Best New Recipe Award with signature dishes featuring the competitor’s products.

“Cooking is all about creativity and innovation and the functional food of tomorrow is the innovation of today,” said Keith Muller, Dean, RRC School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts. “Companies are always looking for new products that can be commercialized and taken to market. Entrepreneurs have the business expertise but chefs have the creative ideas. Combining the two parties through the Great Manitoba Food Fight is a natural fit.”

Over its eight year history the GMFF — which is put on by the province’s Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MARFI) — has shown just how diverse and innovative Manitoba’s agriculture and epicurean section can be; past participants include a range of products from fireweed honey sourced in the north, to birch syrup from the Interlake, to prosciutto made from heritage hogs in Pilot Mound.

This year features a crop of ten budding food-based businesses from across the province whose artisanal, locally sourced products have been chosen based on their applications and business plan scores.

You’ll see and taste what Manitoba has to offer, from whole grain beer bread, to fish sausage, to ultra-creamy ice cream, while a panel of expert judges will decide who takes home gold ($13,000), silver ($8,500) and bronze ($4,000).

For the RRC School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, which is housed in the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, working with the GMFF this year was a perfect fit, as the partnership can only amplify Manitoba’s food production scene.

“The use of local and sustainable products is the philosophy of the School,” said Muller. “It is a major focus of our business plan to support local business and fuel Manitoba’s economy.”

The GMFF runs all day starting at 9:15 a.m.; while at the reception from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., attendees (for $20) will be able to sample the products and student dishes.


Colleges & Applied Research

April 29, 2014 • Written by
Ray New Headshot for web

Written by Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research and Commercialization at Red River College.

As originally published in the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators Newsletter.

This article is the first of a series which will, from the college point-of-view, address topics such as:

  • applied research
  • intellectual property management
  • community/industry engagement and partnering models
  • faculty/student engagement and curriculum integration

Over the last decade, colleges and polytechnics have become an integral part of Canada’s innovation environment; with a growing number of supports for college-specific applied research at the federal and/or provincial level – as well as by the colleges themselves.

Targetted investments by the Tri-Councils through the College and Community Innovation program in college-based applied research programs have grown from ~$3M in 2004 to ~$48M in 2014. These investments are intended to increase community and/or regional level innovation by building capacity within the college sector to work with local companies, especially Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs); as well as to support applied research and collaborations that facilitate commercialization,  technology transfer, adaptation and adoption of new technologies”. Concurrently, Tri-Council investment in university-based research partnerships have grown. For example, NSERC’s university-focussed partnerships program have grown from ~$180M in 2004 to ~$300M for 2014.

At the same time, the number of NSERC-eligible colleges has expanded from literally a handful to nearly 100 institutions from sea to sea to sea.

Community-based economic development is a key driver of applied research in the college system, which supports industry innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.

“Applied Research” is generally considered to be the application of knowledge, focussed on the resolution of a problem or need (usually identified by industry or other organizations within the community) with the objective of delivering a satisfactory resolution or result. This is distinct from the “basic” or “discovery” research (and related timelines) associated with the university sector. In Colleges, the focus is more on the “how” than the “why”.

Applied research is carried out on a group basis, with students often playing a key role since applied research (especially in the polytechnic model of education) is an integral component of the applied learning experience.

Commercial rights to research results are routinely assigned to industry partners, while the College retains rights for further research and education purposes. Most colleges do not typically engage in the traditional academic “patent and license” model.

Technology “diffusion” (adoption and adaption of technology) is of greater relevance than technology “commercialization” – since college-based applied research is often responding to an industry-specific product, process or service need.

In Canadian colleges, the role of the “applied research” office encompasses those which would normally be found in the typical university research services, technology transfer and industry liaison offices. Partnership and relationship development and maintenance are integral aspects of the job for applied research office personnel.

With the ever-increasing expectation of public investments in research to create impact, not just benefit; the colleges and universities have a complementary and, more often, a collaborative role to play supporting local and regional economic development.

Stay tuned for future articles.

Happy Easter from the RRC Robotics and Automation team

April 17, 2014 • Written by

Turns out that our robot Baxter, when he isn’t being used for modern manufacturing production at our Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing (TAC), makes a pretty good Easter egg hunter.

As shown in this video by our Robotics and Automation team, Baxter’s dexterity is second to none when it comes to handling and placing eggs with precision using machine vision and ROS Industrial.

Happy Easter!

Red River College awarded federal funds for robotics, sustainable buildings, and electric vehicle research tools

April 17, 2014 • Written by
Some of the NSERC funding will be used to purchase new end-of-arm tools for our Motoman robots

Some of the NSERC funding will be used to purchase new end-of-arm tools for our Motoman robots

River College (RRC) was awarded new funding today from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to continue the College’s applied research in the fields of electric vehicle (EV) testing, large building envelope research and robotics innovation.

A total of $327,842 has been awarded to RRC as part of NSERC’s College and Community Innovation Program – Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grants (ARTI).

“This funding allows us to purchase and install specific research tools and equipment that will have an immediate impact on our applied research capacity across several industrial sectors,” said Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research & Commercialization at RRC.

The tools and equipment being purchased and/or built include an EV rapid charging station and battery testers, a building envelope test chamber to test wall sections and materials, and new end-of-arm and imaging tools for existing robotics.

The EV charging station will be instrumental in testing EVs in Manitoba’s extreme climate

The EV charging station will be instrumental in testing EVs in Manitoba’s extreme climate

“These are assets that will directly support our industry partners’ research and training needs as well as enhancing student and instructor applied learning at the College,” said Stephanie Forsyth, RRC president and CEO. “They support our strategy to drive Manitoba’s economy in an innovative and sustainable way.”

With $72,292 from NSERC, the EV rapid charging station and battery testers will be incorporated into RRC’s Electric Vehicle Training and Education Centre (EVTEC) were it will have an immediate impact on both new and ongoing projects such as the all-electric transit bus project with partners that include New Flyer Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Manitoba Hydro and the Province of Manitoba.

The test chamber will be used on applied research towards making Manitoba’s existing and yet to be built buildings more energy efficient

The structural test chamber will be instrumental in making Manitoba’s existing and yet to be built buildings more energy efficient

Enhancing the College’s considerable capacity and expertise in conducting applied research on the energy performance of buildings is $139,300 to build an air, water, and structural test chamber in the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI). Along with specialized training opportunities, the chamber will allow building envelope innovations to be evaluated prior to their actual use in the construction of buildings.

The new tools for industrial robotic applications, valued at $116,250, will be incorporated into the existing suite of technologies in RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing (TAC) and the Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT). With the TAC and CATT, RRC supports aerospace and manufacturing organizations through access to research tools and expertise, technological assets and state of the art equipment.

More detailed reports on the NSERC ARTI grants and the applied research they will support can be found below:
Industrial Robotics Backgrounder
EV Charging Station Backgrounder
Structural Test Chamber Backgrounder

Manitoba institutions and innovation leaders bus together to activate entrepreneurs

April 2, 2014 • Written by
Start-Up Crawl organizers/participants Nick Danzinger, Joelle Foster, Luc Bohunicky, Scott MacAulay, Mariette Mulaire and Lindsay Johnston

Start-Up Crawl organizers/participants Nick Danzinger, Joelle Foster, Luc Bohunicky, Scott MacAulay, Mariette Mulaire and Lindsay Johnston

For budding young business students from the University of Manitoba and Red River College (RRC), there was no better place to be than on the second annual Start-Up Crawl bus on Friday.

The daylong event demonstrates how an original business plan can grow wings in Winnipeg’s commerce community and take flight through the utilization of this city’s innovative hotspots.

Indeed several of this year’s new business presenters, including Nick Danzinger, were mere students on last year’s crawl.

RRC student Nick Danzinger showing his DigiPlus line of phone cases.

Nick Danzinger showing his DigiPlus line of phone cases that he developed at Ramp Up/AssentWorks.

“Nick is a perfect example of a guy who got revenue positive really quick and is moving on to develop a scalable business that could be big business some day,” said Scott MacAulay, Entrepreneurship 2.0 Researcher and Instructor at RRC who was one of the organizers for this year’s crawl.

Danzinger’s custom phone case company DigiPlus was a just an idea nine months ago. Now he is building an extensive product list and closing profitable deals – all because of his ability to utilize the Ramp Up Manitoba and AssentWorks joint facility in the Exchange District.

Ramp Up is a space where prospective entrepreneurs can rent a desk for $50 a month, and offers an environment for developers, designers and entrepreneurs to become the latest technology startup in Winnipeg.

Ramp Up was founded by Chris Johnson who – along with former Asper School of Business student and Start-Up Crawl founder Luc Bohunicky – plays the role of entrepreneurial guru to the students, giving guidance on the bus between stops.

Across the hall from Ramp Up is AssentWorks, a self-described, “non-profit workshop dedicated to providing hands-on access to fabrication and prototyping equipment, knowledge, and a community of support for entrepreneurs, inventors, tinkerers, artists, and innovators.”

This is the fabrication lab (“Fab Lab”) where your product can be realized through woodworking, metalworking, 3D printers and a vast assortment of other electronic tools and incubators.

The AssentWorks/Ramp Up space received a lot of buzz from the student crawlers, as it truly offered a model into how a prospective business plan can be made into a retail reality.

Students on the Start-Up Crawl bus

Students on the Start-Up Crawl bus

While a lot of the focus on the bus is around starting up your own enterprise (a constant refrain from Johnson and Bohunicky was how then end goal is to be your own boss) the Start-up Crawl also works as a showcase for many of Manitoba’s innovative and energetic companies.

Advolve Media – a mirror-based advertising company, DASH – an upstart social media agency by David Bell and Christian Lunny (who aren’t even in their 20s), and Skip the Dishes – the food delivery service that is taking over western Canada, were some of the many innovative Winnipeg-based companies that took part in relaying sage advice to the students.

These enterprises were buttressed by non-profit organizations and commerce groups like Innovate Manitoba, World Trade Centre Winnipeg and Downtown Winnipeg Biz, who demonstrated for the students how the right financing and location can help grow your business.

Student interest in the crawl has already doubled, with a second bus added to accommodate the turnout this year.

Next year the organizers are hoping to add even more buses and to have students from the University of Winnipeg and L’Université de Saint-Boniface take part.

National Leasing, the crawl’s premier sponsor has donated $50,000 toward making these entrepreneurial connections happen, and organizers like MacAulay hope that money can go into doing more and more field trips with an end goal of growing Winnipeg’s innovative entrepreneur community – regardless of the educational institution a student might be part of.

“I guess you could say we are suppose to be competitive from an education standpoint but what I care about is building our community. That is number one to me,” said MacAulay.

“I want to see the Asper students who are entrepreneurs to be successful, because that means there is another entrepreneur born who has built businesses, and that is really important for building an innovative economy.”

New website supports innovation in aerospace and manufacturing

March 20, 2014 • Written by

10710958685_f761683091_oRed River College has launched a new website in support of its Technology Access Centre (TAC) initiative, serving aerospace and manufacturing organizations at home and abroad.

Funded in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC’s) Community and College Innovation Program, the TAC supports both large and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing enhanced access to RRC’s technological assets, subject matter expertise, and specialized facilities and equipment. Organizations benefit by gaining access to technology and expertise that was previously unavailable directly to industry.

The new website provides an industry portal through which aerospace and manufacturing organizations can view RRC’s resources, including: information on full-time student programming (from which they can draw their future workforce), information on hiring co-op students and interns, information on facilities and equipment available to assist them in projects, and information on how the College can support industry through applied research, technical services and training activities.

The site also highlights success stories and student projects, along with an events calendar listing upcoming seminars and events, and an area for posted tips and tricks helpful for practitioners in the workplace.

“This new website continues to promote the valued partnership we have with companies like StandardAero and our industrial campus, the Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT),” says Don MacDonald, Dean of RRC’s School of Transportation, Aviation and Manufacturing. “This new resource will ultimately mean more opportunities for industry, and for our students studying in these areas.”

Visit the new website to learn more about the Technology Access Centre.

Get connected and funded at Innovate Manitoba’s IndustryCONNECTS

March 12, 2014 • Written by


Connecting the dots…Imagine an event where academic researchers and firms seeking research assistance can develop research partnerships and learn about and initiate applications for federal funding at the same time…

Imagine no more! Industry-Researcher Matchmaking and Funding Application Day aims to do just that with the support of knowledgeable administrators with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Dates: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Times: 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Regions: Winnipeg Brandon
Cost: No cost to invited participants


For Researchers:
Industry representatives will be on hand and making presentations on successful researcher collaborations. You will be able to make immediate use of your newly enhanced pitch skills in networking opportunities with prospective partners.

For Industry: You will have the chance to share your R&D needs with some of Manitoba’s best researchers and to initiate federally-funded academic research partnerships on the spot.

Those who attend this event will also be presented with case studies from private sector firms who have successfully engaged with academic researchers on research projects, as well as learn of other organizations and programs that can provide assistance.

Funding opportunities abound!

NSERC project/funding administrators will be on hand to help consult prospective industry-research partners as to the range of funding opportunities available to support their research. These opportunities include Engage Grants, Applied Research and Development Grants, Idea to Innovate Grants and more.

Engage Grants: Up to $25,000 to support six months of research costs of academic researcher-Canadian company projects. No cash contribution required from the company, but the company must collaborate on the project and be able to exploit the research results. This grant applies to new business/research relationships only. More info can be found here.

Applied Research and Development Grants: Three different levels of grants, from up to $25,000 for up to six months, and between $25,000 and $75,000 or between $75,000 and $150,000 per year for up to three years. These are designed to support applied research and development projects undertaken by college research with private-sector partners. Industry partner in-kind/cash contribution varies depending on grant level. More information can be found here.

Idea to Innovation Grants: These grants support college-university collaborations working with a company partner(s) to accelerate the development and commercialization of promising technologies. The college and university can share up to $250,000 per year based on company contribution of $125,000 (NSERC will match company contributions 1:1, so if the company contribution is $50,000, both the college and university can receive up to $50,000 each). More information can be found here.

Collaborative Research & Development Grants: These grants support one to five year projects undertaken by university researchers and their private-sector partners. The industrial partner must contribute to the direct project costs in an amount equal to, or greater than, the amount requested from NSERC. More info can be found here.

10th Anniversary Applied Researchv2


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