Research Partnerships and Innovation

Research Partnerships & Innovation

News

RRC Polytech one of Canada’s top research colleges

February 1, 2023

Partnerships propel polytechnic to 11th best in the country

RRC Polytech is once again one of Canada’s top research institutions, as announced last week in Re$earch Infosource’s annual ranking of the country’s top 50 research colleges. The College jumped three spots from last year’s 14th place position.

RRC Polytech comes in first place in the prairies in the Spotlight on College Research Activity – Medium Tier category, and third place for research partnerships nationwide. The College completed 93 applied research projects in the 2021 fiscal year.

“Partnerships are at the heart of everything we do at RRC Polytech. We work with industry everyday to come up with innovative, sustainable solutions to business problems. Thanks to the support from our partners in the community, industry, and government, we can continue to make positive change here in Manitoba and throughout the country,” says Jamie Wilson, Vice President, Indigenous Strategy, Research and Business Development at RRC Polytech.

“This national recognition reinforces that ground-breaking work doesn’t happen in a silo. It takes a community of creative staff, students, and industry partners to achieve the results that place us so high on this list.”

An ongoing partnership between RRC Polytech’s Prairie Research Kitchen and Prairie Fava, a Glenboro, MB-based food start-up, and Big Mountain Foods, a Vancouver-based innovator of plant-based consumer packaged goods that resulted in an award-winning product is just one example of the innovative collaborations completed in the last year. A recent building airtightness test at Gordon Bell High School completed by RRC Polytech’s Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) that will help the high school reduce energy costs by 50 per cent is another.

“It’s a particular point of pride that many of our applied research successes focus on sustainable initiatives,” continues Wilson. “It’s important we utilize our technology and expertise to not only create impacts in industry, but to work towards a greener economy. I look forward to continuing working with our partners to make a difference in Canada’s applied research scene.”

RRC Polytech’s Research Partnerships & Innovation enterprise has operated out of the College since 2004, providing industry partners with applied research, technical services and training in areas that align with RRC Polytech’s expertise, resources and facilities, and with regional socio-economic demand.

Uniquely qualified and ready to lead – introducing Dr. Jolen Galaugher

January 17, 2023

RRC Polytech is thrilled to introduce Dr. Jolen Galaugher as its new Director of Research Partnerships and Innovation (RPI). The RPI team works tirelessly to find solutions for today’s challenges – and those of tomorrow. Driven by the needs of industry and community, RPI fuels the reputation and success of the College.

Dr. Galaugher has a demonstrated track record of elevating opportunities for students to participate in solving practical problems, supporting entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses, and strengthening relationships with partners and funders across all sectors.

“Dr. Galaugher is a proven visionary leader and her passion for connectivity shone throughout the competitive hiring process,” says Jamie Wilson, RRC Polytech’s Vice President, Indigenous Strategy, Research and Business Development.

“Her unique blend of post-secondary and private sector experience will increase the College’s award-winning applied research capacity and create new opportunities for organizations to access Manitoba’s top talent and our leading-edge facilities and equipment.”

She led business development, research commercialization, and partnerships strategy for the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Science in her most recent role as Director of Science Innovation. Her ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders advanced U of M’s research innovation across a range of disciplines and she leaves the faculty’s new Science Innovation Hub as her legacy.

As a former business owner and consultant, she also brings expertise in business development, contract negotiation, large bids and RFPs, project and stakeholder management, and partnerships strategy from her time in the healthcare industry.

She holds a PhD in Philosophy from McMaster University and is the author of an award-winning book in her field, while still making time to serve on various Boards and Committees both in the community and in Manitoba’s innovation ecosystem. She is a proud parent of two young daughters and enjoys riding sport horses.

Dr. Galaugher has dedicated her career to envisioning, building, and implementing high-impact initiatives, new programs, and partnerships that spark innovation and drive alignment between stakeholders. She is eager to begin building new relationships and start finding solutions for both the College and its partners in industry and the community.

“I’m immensely impressed with what RRC Polytech’s RPI team has built and look forward to working together to achieve our shared goals of accelerating applied research innovation in Manitoba and co-creating the workforce of tomorrow.”

By-product Baking Mixes Become a Reality at PRK

November 25, 2022

Proof is no longer exclusively in the pudding that the term upcycling is here to stay – it can now be found in a nutritious blueberry pancake or rich chocolate brownie made from a mix using saved coffee grounds and the remnants of brewing a cold beer. It may sound like sorcery but transforming these previously discarded by-products into tasty treats is not the work of a magician, but that of an entrepreneur.

However, he couldn’t have done it alone.

President of GroundUp eco-ventures, Shawn Leggett didn’t invent the idea of upcycling, but he did see an opportunity and had the time to do some research when his work in Alberta’s oil and gas industry slowed.

“People’s mindsets are shifting. They care about the future of the planet, they want sustainable food options and they’re willing to pay for it, providing it tastes great,” says Leggett.

After months of collecting waste material from local businesses, dehydrating it in his oven at home, and experimenting with recipes and processes, he was ready to take his creation to the next level.

But even with a solid concept, a passionate belief, and an unrelenting work ethic, Shawn needed expertise, resources and a facility, all of which he found at RRC Polytech’s Prairie Research Kitchen (PRK).  

“We experimented enough to know we had something worth pursuing but going from a good idea to a great item is such a huge leap,” he says. “Time is money, so you want to move quickly but as a start-up actual money is still an obstacle – PRK offered us a cost-effective solution to professional research and development.”   

GroundUp eco-ventures enlisted PRK to support the development of an eco-friendly, locally sourced, high protein, instant pancake mix made with brewers’ by-products and a brownie mix made with used coffee grounds. 

Culinary Research Manager, Heather Hill jumped at the opportunity to demonstrate the transformative powers of her team and provide Shawn with a marketable product that would lead to a significant return on his investment.

Research Assistant, Anna Borys was tasked with perfecting a useful, upcycled flour using a base of brewer’s spent grains (BSG) and saved coffee grounds (SCG). Borys was confident she could overcome the project’s main challenge of reducing the gritty texture that comes with such a high fibre material and embarked on weeks of trials and testing to prove it.

Her analysis of extensive sieving trials and multiple ingredient combinations led to a formulation that improved the functionality of BSG flour – from there, the entire PRK team worked together with GroundUp on tasting trials.

Date: July 6, 2022 RRC Polytech Paterson GlobalFoods Institute Photo by Jason Halstead

Dozens of samples of each baking mix and hundreds of pancakes, waffles, and brownies later, a refined recipe and optimal cooking procedure emerged, as well as feedback and recommendations for future products.

“Everything we do at PRK requires a team effort because scientists and chefs have different approaches and priorities when it comes to food,” says Borys. “Our ultimate goal is to strike the perfect balance between science and art so it’s incredibly rewarding when we reach a consensus and the final product functions well, looks appealing, and tastes great.”        

Shawn’s instincts were also proven correct as the immediate reaction to GroundUp’s delicious, easy-to-use, baking mixes that highlight sustainable and healthy ingredients was overwhelmingly positive.

Better Breakfast High-Protein Pancake Mix and Born Again Brownie Mix won gold for innovation of the year at the SIAL Montreal tradeshow in April 2022. Their success at Canada’s largest food industry exhibition with over 1200 exhibitors from 50 different countries established the GroundUp eco-ventures brand and prompted orders to roll in.  

“It’s mind blowing how quickly our upcycling concept transformed into an award-winning product after we tapped into the incredible resources at Prairie Research Kitchen,” says Leggett. “Combining their technical knowledge with our passion and energy allowed the team to perfect our idea and we are shattering all projections.”

GroundUp’s successful venture is a source of pride but not of shock for Anna Borys, because finding innovative and creative solutions is just part of the daily routine at PRK. While the results can appear quite magical, it’s not a trick or an illusion – just another example of RRC Polytech living its commitment to use the power of partnership to elevate people and industry.

Investment in Advanced Composites Development Centre to support technology transfer, new learning opportunities for students

November 18, 2022

Today, during Global Entrepreneurship Week, Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan), announced a more than $22.7 million investment to support innovation and growth in Manitoba. This funding was awarded to 16 projects across the province, including RRC Polytech’s Advanced Composites Development Centre (ACDC), operated by the Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing (TACAM).

This investment is great news for expanding the frontiers of applied research and workforce development in Manitoba. It’s also a prime example of government, academia, and industry working together to strengthen our province.

“Our investment today will support both Manitoba’s economy and business, helping to continue to make Manitoba a great place to invest, do business, and create good jobs people can count on. Our partnership with Manitoba businesses will help them in acquiring the tools, capital, and support they need to thrive as significant contributors to the Prairie and Canadian economies,” said The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan.

Alongside PrairiesCan’s investment, National Research Council Canada, Magellan Aerospace, and Convergent Manufacturing Technologies have put a combined $1.5 million contribution to expanding the Advanced Composites Development Centre.

The funding will enable RRC Polytech to expand our capabilities in advanced composite manufacturing using robotics, automation, and data analytics. This collaboration will also help to industrialize emerging composite manufacturing technologies, improve our knowledge base, open doors for new business opportunities for the private sector, and develop a much-needed workforce in advanced manufacturing and aerospace. 

Dr. Dele Ola, Director of RRC Polytech’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and manufacturing.

“The investment in the Advanced Composites Development Centre will help us do many things – build capacity for technology transfer with industry partners, specifically small- and medium-size enterprises who do not have resources for in-house research and development; teach advanced manufacturing skills to learners, using new and emerging technologies; and overall create new jobs and attract more investments in Manitoba,” said Dr. Dele Ola, Director, TACAM.  

Our province is a prairie powerhouse for manufacturing and aerospace. Together, through the strength of this collaboration of public and private organizations, we can continue to maintain Manitoba’s position as an international hub for manufacturing.

Learn more about RRC Polytech’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing at rrc.ca/tacam

Feature photo: L-R – Rick Penner, President, Emerge Knowledge; Jen Peters, Co-Founder, Emerge Knowledge; Louie Ghiz, Executive Director, New Media Manitoba; The Honourable Dan Vandal; DeleOla, Director, Director of the Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing, Red River College Polytechnic

Get involved with Community-Based Research Canada

August 9, 2022

RRC Polytech is proud to be a member of Community-Based Research Canada (CBRCanada), a national champion and facilitator of community-based research excellence (a research approach addressing challenging societal problems). CBRCanada is a membership-based organization of community organizations, colleges, universities, research institutes, and community-based researchers.

Membership grants us access to valuable courses and professional development activities. Here are some upcoming events available to all RRC Polytech staff and students:

  • Community of Practice (August 12)
    • Community of practice meetings actively bring together CBRCanada members to engage in meaningful discussions.
    • All involved in community-based research are welcome, whether you are a researcher, peer-researcher, student, project coordinator, administrator, director, or community leader.
    • The purpose of the community of practice is to network with others, learn from each other, and exchange best practices.
    • For more information/to register, please click here.
  • The Fall 2022 Community-Based Research Certificate Course (begins October 12)
    • The Community-Based Research Certificate Course: Fundamentals and Excellence will enhance your research capacity in theory, methods, and tools for conducting research with communities.
    • Facilitated by leading experts in community-based research, this interactive course will take a deep dive into community-based research and emphasize practical applications of learning at each stage.
    • Participants will have an opportunity to workshop their own community-based research projects at the end of the course.
    • Please click here for more information and to register.

Where Food and Culture Meet

May 5, 2022

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Western Food Processor magazine.

Where Food and Culture Meet: Prairie Research Kitchen at RRC Polytech

Canada celebrates cultural diversity in a number of ways — especially through food. Manitoba is one of the leading provinces for cultural and food diversity, an apt location for the Prairie Research Kitchen (PRK) at RRC Polytech’s downtown campus at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute.

From 2018 to 2020, immigration to Manitoba has primarily been made up of people from Africa, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific regions, accounting for between 80‐85 per cent of immigrants each year, according to data from the Province of Manitoba.

“Our diverse population is reflected in the new products and restaurants available here,” says Mavis McRae, director of PRK. “We are lucky to be a resource for bringing those ideas to market.”

Food processing businesses contribute to the diversity of food options available to Manitobans. Often, members of visible minorities seek foods from their own culture for ‘new’ product ideas and many such foods are either not available or only at a price premium.

“Our team works well with new product ideas and ingredients,” says McRae. “We’ve worked with over 70 companies from Manitoba to B.C. and have generated over 120 product ideas. Many of these have roots in global cuisine.”

PRK infuses their myriad of services with a foodservice perspective, serving clients seeking to adapt a recipe for many needs — like reaching a broader population or for larger scale production. One of three Technology Access Centres at RRC Polytech, they are funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

“We work with many new companies who look to their own cultures for food product ideas,” says Jeff Fidyk, business development specialist, Manitoba Agriculture. “PRK’s services offer timely, practical solutions to help these companies bring their products to grocery and foodservice markets.”

Their modern facility offers a bevy of research services from rapid prototyping and ingredient applications to consumer research trials and customized training with flexibility to meet any companies’ innovation needs. They also work with companies to identify research focused funding resources for eligible organizations.

The diversity of companies is not where equity, diversification and inclusion ends for PRK. The college is committed to building strong relationships with various communities in Manitoba and fostering reconciliation between Indigenous and non‐Indigenous Peoples.

“Since inception we have recognized the connection between culture and food,” says McRae. “We have built a diverse team through staff, instructors and students. We are fortunate to be in an environment that recognizes the benefits of providing diversity education. We are committed to our responsibilities toward Truth and Reconciliation actions.”

Staff at PRK have completed the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation course, developed by Reconciliation Education, offered in partnership with RRC Polytech and First Nations University of Canada, as well as several courses related to respectful workplace, anti-racism and gender diversity. The result is a talented group of food specialists backed by a plethora of expertise committed to bringing the best of all cultures to market.

RRC Polytech is making plant-based impacts across the country, from the Prairies to Big Mountains

April 22, 2022

Pictured from left to right: Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada, Hailey Jefferies, President and Co-Founder of Prairie Fava, Parm Bains, MP for Steveston Richmond East, Jasmine Byrne and Kimberly Chamberland, President and CEO of Big Mountain Foods, and Mavis McRae, Director of RRC Polytech’s Prairie Research Kitchen

A new high-protein, plant-based food product will soon be available to Canadians, thanks in large part to RRC Polytech’s Prairie Research Kitchen and Protein Industries Canada (PIC).

On April 21, PIC announced a major investment that will enable Big Mountain Foods, a Vancouver-based innovator of plant-based consumer packaged goods, and Prairie Fava, the leading Canadian grower and ingredient supplier of fava beans, based in Glenboro, Manitoba, to bring more fava-based consumer products, including fava tofu, to market. The Prairie Research Kitchen has worked with both companies as a product development partner.

“We are thrilled to have played a part in the development of this exciting new project. This is a perfect example of how the Prairie Research Kitchen team can lend our expertise in food sciences and culinary arts, as well as our experience in pulse products, to work with companies to develop new products for consumers,” says Mavis McRae, Director, Prairie Research Kitchen.

The Prairie Research Kitchen has partnered with Prairie Fava since 2016, starting with research on fava flour, a protein rich gluten-free flour that can be used in baking and conventional recipes. In 2019, the Prairie Research Kitchen began collaboration with several research and industry partners to develop value-added platform technologies using Manitoba-grown plant proteins. This led to the base knowledge of how various protein sources function in a tofu platform, as well as showcased value-added applications for the co-products of tofu production. Prairie Fava was an industrial partner in this project, as well as an ingredient supplier.

“The Prairie Research Kitchen has been instrumental in our product development since day one,” says Hailey Jefferies, President and Co-Founder of Prairie Fava. “The Prairie Research Kitchen team brings a unique blend of skills and creativity to applied research. Their input has expedited our product development in the early days when we were investigating the use of fava flour and provided us with valuable information as we grew the company. We appreciate the team’s support, responsiveness and advice over the years.”

The Prairie Research Kitchen started working with Big Mountain Foods in 2020, initially conducting product and process validation work on a new process the company was trying to replicate. This grew into an ongoing partnership, and the Prairie Research Kitchen team became Big Mountain Foods’s product development partner. This work established the groundwork for a new product development project for Big Mountain to coincide with the investment the company was making into tofu manufacturing capabilities.

“The technical knowledge provided by the Prairie Research Kitchen team was crucial to our product development,” says Jasmine Byrne, President of Big Mountain Foods. “From many refinement trials to on-site troubleshooting, their expertise helped guide us to achieve the results we’d been looking for.”

Tofu production

Big Mountain Foods will produce the fava bean tofu at the world’s first allergen-free tofu factory. The company aims to produce 15 million units a year.

The product is anticipated to hit grocery shelves in Manitoba next month.

Prairie Research Kitchen plays key role in development of soon-to-be-commercialized non-allergen tofu product

April 21, 2022

Today, Protein Industries Canada announced a major project that enables Big Mountain Foods, a Vancouver-based innovator of plant-based consumer packaged goods, and Prairie Fava, the leading Canadian grower and ingredient supplier of fava beans, based in Glenboro, Manitoba, to bring more fava-based consumer products, including fava tofu, to market. The Prairie Research Kitchen has worked with both companies as a product development partner.

Prairie Fava and Big Mountain Foods are joining forces to create a new line of fava-based food products, such as non-allergen tofu. This partnership will result in more healthy food options for Canadians produced in a next-generation manufacturing facility purposely designed to meet and exceed sustainability requirements.

Read more on Protein Industries Canada’s website.

Applied learning in action: ACE Project Space students work to innovate visual care

March 31, 2022

Our eyes are the primary way we see the world and navigate daily life. They also are an important means to diagnosing unseen neurological changes, due to injury (concussion), stroke, or other neurological disorders.

Students from RRC Polytech’s ACE Project Space are at the cutting-edge of innovative technology development with researchers at Neuroptek, a new start-up headed by Drs. Neda Anssari and Behzad Mansouri.

“The Neuroptek project has been the backbone of my entire program,” said Navdeep Kaur Sran, student team lead. “It has given me firsthand experience at how to integrate and apply all the skills I’ve learned throughout my courses.”

The researchers’ vision was sparked by their experiences delivering eye exams to children in rural areas of Ontario several years ago. Anssari is a neurologist and concussion subspecialist, Mansouri is a neuro-ophthalmologist and neuroscientist.

“The team had to pack up equipment and travel for hours in order for us to get to the remote area,” said Anssari. “It’s very difficult to reach some remote areas with all the equipment. Add to that the Canadian winter weather challenges, we saw the need for a more sustainable solution.”

Anssari expanded on the importance of access for children. Refractive errors are very common in children and play a significant role in their literacy, especially in preschool ages, kindergarten and elementary levels.

Their new technology is called EyeMirage. It realizes their vision to put eye care in the hands of the public, making it available virtually via an easily downloadable app. Additional versions of the app are available for use in clinical settings and by elite athletes and training programs.

“I’ve been working in the field of concussion for a few years now. The major challenge that I see happening in our day-to-day practice is that we do not have a readily available objective measure to diagnose concussion and early diagnosis is important,” said Anssari.

RRC Polytech students were on the ground floor over the course of two terms, working with the two researchers and Samantha Phrakonkham, Project Manager for Neuroptek.

Pictured from the back row from left to right is Naidong Zhang (RRC dev), Justin Horton (RRC dev), Kuldeep Kaur Sandhu (RRC Information Security), Biniyam M Mezgebo (Neuroptek AI dev), Daniel Leclaire (Neuroptek dev). Pictured in the front row from left to right is Samantha Phrakonkham (Neuroptek Project Manager), Dr. Neda Anssari (Neuroptek, CEO), Dr. Behzad Mansouri (Neuroptek, COO), and Arsalan Alizadeh (Neuroptek, CMO).

“Working with the RRC Polytech students has been very exciting and rewarding,” said Phrakonkham.

Initially, in spring and summer 2021, the first team of five students were tasked with developing an app to perform eye examinations.

“This wasn’t an easy task, given that none of the students had any mobile application development experience, which means they had to build this app from scratch. An experience that the majority of students that graduate from a postsecondary program would not have.”

For the fall 2021 term, a new four-student team have focussed on refining those eye examination tests to ensure that they meet the criteria for Clinical Standards.

“Currently, the students are making headway, but they do have a long road ahead of them, since most of the work is to improve the functionality of the app,” added Phrakonkham. “The most noticeable difference between this term and the last is our focus on quality control and engineering practices, in order to better prepare the students for the workforce.”

This synergistic partnership with RRC Polytech brings Neuroptek closer to their mission, while providing valuable industry experience for the students.

Phrakonkham noted, “Students have hands-on experiences with processes and tools they are likely to encounter in industry. They have had to move out of their comfort zone, adapt to the changes that might arise and take on duties that are not part of their existing skill set.”

Their days are structured to reflect the standard workflow of industry, like daily stand ups, road mapping, sprints, one-on-ones and brainstorming sessions.

“They gain practical experience using common tools, adopting common practices in the use of those tools, while providing them an agile work environment similar to agile software development processes in the industries they will seek employment with, post-graduation.”

RRC Polytech to participate in virtual meetings with Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery

February 10, 2022

RRC Polytech is pleased to participate in virtual meetings being led by the Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2) with federal parliamentarians on February 10, 14 and 15, 2022.

C2R2 members will be meeting with federal parliamentarians to ensure they understand that Canada’s colleges, cégeps, institutions, and polytechnics play a critical role in preparing workers for a changing economy. C2R2 committed to working with the government and parliamentarians of all political stripes to ensure workers are prepared for the employment opportunities that are emerging in every region of the country, and that they fully benefit from the transition to a low-carbon economy.

C2R2 members are working to ensure that its members are at the forefront of the transition to a low-carbon future by:

  • Rapidly implementing and scaling curriculum initiatives focused on training workers for a resilient recovery to meet federal targets
  • Demonstrating new and existing research expertise and facilities to innovate technology, techniques and products to drive the low-carbon transition and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Utilizing the C2R2 pan-Canadian network to collaborate and expand the reach of training and research abilities to better support women, underrepresented populations, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples

C2R2 is a coalition of highly aligned institutions from across Canada with an established commitment to sustainability, that have come together as a driving force, providing the skills required to transition to a clean economy in Canada.

RRC Polytech is committed to C2R2 and has embedded its priorities into a number of ongoing projects, including:

  • Energy Advisor micro-credential – developed in partnership between RRC Polytech (BETAC) and the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association (MEIA) to meet the need for Energy Advisors (EAs) to help deliver the one million EnerGuide rating services for eligible homes in Canada, as per the federal government’s Greener Homes initiative.
  • Diagnostic Support Worker (DSW) program works in partnership with Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. to deliver a suite of micro-credentials to enhance the accessibility to health care services for remote communities. Focused in community, students are provided with the opportunity to learn and practice clinical skills close to home. The program works with Indigenous Link to find candidates that wish to pursue careers in nursing stations within their own communities. The program allows students to add the skills their nursing station and its equipment requires.  
  • EV Tundra Buggy prototype – RRC Polytech’s Vehicle Technology and Energy Centre helped support the validation of converting diesel-powered Buggies to battery electric. Frontiers North Adventures launched the first EV Tundra Buggy in November 2021, with the goal of converting its fleet of 12 Buggies by 20230. It’s estimated that converting the entire fleet to battery electric will reduce GHGs by 3600 tonnes over the course of 25 years. The conversion will also open up opportunities for new clean tech jobs.

For more information about the virtual meetings visit: https://resilientcolleges.ca/