Niagara College named No. 1 research college in Canada in latest top-50 research colleges report

Niagara College Research and Innovation group photo

Sean Kennedy, President of Niagara College, and Marc Nantel, PhD, Vice President – Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises of the Research & Innovation team, and members of the R&I division at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus celebrate the announcement of the College being the No. 1 research college in Canada.

For the second time in less than five years, Niagara College has hit the No. 1 spot for colleges in Canada for research funding, according to a special report released on December 7.

Moving up one spot from last year’s standings, Niagara College is now the No. 1 research college across Canada. This is the ninth year in a row NC has been in the top 10.

In its special report Canada’s Innovation Leaders, Research Infosource Inc. announced the rankings based on total research funding numbers for 2022. The publication includes a national study “Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges.”

“I am exceptionally proud that Niagara College has reached the No. 1 spot in Canada and Ontario as the top research college in funding,” said NC President Sean Kennedy. “Research and innovation is a priority in the College’s Strategic Plan as it provides real-world solutions for businesses and extraordinary experiential learning opportunities for students.”

“We have truly hit our stride as the research, innovation, and development arm for many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Ontario and the country,” Kennedy added. “Our reputation and funding from various levels of government and industry continues to grow, keeping us at the top of this list, and generating great pride for Niagara College.”

Among colleges with applied research funding in Canada, NC earned the No. 1 spot by attracting more than $32 million in research support to conduct innovative projects with industry partners in the food and beverage, advanced manufacturing, horticulture and environment sectors, as well as on business and commercialization. In the category of completed research projects, NC finished No. 1 for complete research projects at a mid-size college with a total of 208, while NC’s total number of research partnerships was 222, ranking No. 3.

“To say we are pleased about reaching the No. 1 spot in Canada and Ontario is an understatement,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, Vice President – Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises. “I am so proud of all our staff, faculty, researchers, and students who helped make this happen and work, day in and day out, to provide innovative solutions for industry partners.”

“This announcement also gives Niagara businesses the confidence that, when working with Niagara College, they are partnering with the top research college across the country.”

“Niagara College leapt into first place nationally this year on research income and also holds first place in research intensity,” noted Rob Freedman, CEO, Research Infosource. “Equally impressive is the high number of completed research projects. Clearly, the focus on research of Niagara’s faculty, students and administration is showing itself.”

Research funding enables the College to partner with SMEs in the region to conduct projects and services, which provide innovative solutions for industry, including producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products and processes. NC conducts applied research, technical services and business and commercialization solutions with industry partners through its Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre, Food & Beverage Innovation Centre, Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre, and Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

Across all four Innovation Centres, NC pairs industry partners with highly qualified and experienced staff researchers, faculty, recent graduates, and students with the expertise to meet applied research and innovation needs in many areas. Students gain real-world experience and professional development while networking directly with industry partners.

In addition, Niagara College leads two multi-institution networks, Greenhouse Technology Network and the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation, capable of addressing industry challenges in technologies related to greenhouse operations, and in advanced manufacturing.

Miski Brewing (the sister company of Miski Organics) is proud to be certified gluten-free, organic, vegan and kosher – the first beer to do this in North America.

Already a previous client with the Food & Beverage Innovation Centre (FBIC), having had the team work on Miski Organics products like their vegan pancake mix and Maca Cacao Blend, Ricardo Irivarren, Co-founder of Miski Organics and Miski Brewing, knew the team would be able to help him bring his dream of this quinoa-based beer into reality.

Invarren asked the FBIC team, led by Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo, PhD, Scientific Manager, and Adrian Popowycz, Research Lead, if they could create this beer with organic quinoa, so they could have a certified gluten-free and organic product as well.

The FBIC team came up with various recipes for Irivarren and they chose their favourite. They also helped Irivarren learn how to scale-up production and understand the market. Fast forward to present day and Miski Brewing, an innovative craft brewery, has entered the Barrie craft brew market with their unique certified organic, keto-friendly, gluten-free beer made from quinoa, which caters to the growing demand for healthier and diverse beer options.

“It’s a groundbreaking project. The process, the standards, the way we developed the recipe is all unique,” said Irivarren “Working with the College was crucial because they were the first ones to encourage us to dream. They took on the challenges I gave them and have really helped us to create the product we have right now. They’re a great part of our story,” he added.

Not only is this product a Canadian success story, but after working on the FBIC team from 2019 to 2021, Irivarren hired two R&I NC alumni to join the Miski Brewing team – Head Brewer Daniel Fonseca and Operations Manager Rodrigo Ribeiro.

Research Infosource annually compiles listings of the Top 50 research universities, corporate R&D spenders, and research hospitals. This is the eleventh year a list has been released for the Top 50 research colleges in Canada. For more information on the Top 50 list, visit

NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division administers research funding through investments from various regional, provincial, and federal agencies. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty and staff researchers to assist industry partners’ leap forward in the marketplace. Students come from a variety of the College’s programs, such as the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Culinary Innovation and Food Technology, Business Administration – Marketing, and Computer Programmer.

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of close to 11,000 students from over 95 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at

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