NC shines spotlight on SONAMI for Minister Fedeli’s visit

NC President Sean Kennedy (second from right), VP Research, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives Marc Nantel (second from left) and Board of Governors Chair Mishka Balsom (right) welcome Minister Victor Fedeli (middle) and Niagara West MPP Sam Oostrerhoff (left) to the Wellamd Campus.

Collaboration and innovation were the focus as NC welcomed provincial elected officials to the Welland Campus on January 17 to showcase the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI).

Niagara College welcomed Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Victor Fedeli for his first visit to the College, along with Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff for a tour of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre where they viewed displays and demonstrations about SONAMI a NC-led network which collaborates with small- and medium-sized companies to tackle their manufacturing-related challenges.

Student Cam Sheppard (right) demonstrates the Creaform HandySCAN laser scanner in WAMIC for Minister Fedeli and MPP Oosterhoff. The scanner is used regularly for reverse engineering or inspection technical services. Using lasers and an advanced camera system, the laser scanner measures the surface of objects quickly and accurately. The scanned data is used to provide 3D CAD models or mechanical drawings of parts that are scanned.

SONAMI currently includes 11 Ontario postsecondary institutions (Centennial, Conestoga, Fanshawe, George Brown, Lambton, Mohawk, Niagara and Sheridan  and Fleming colleges, and McMaster and Queen’s University).

College President Sean Kennedy, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives Marc Nantel, and NC Board of Governors Chair Mishka Balsom, were on site to lead the tour, along with Kithio Mwanzia (Manager, SONAMI Network), Neil Wilkinson (Manager, Research program, WAMIC). Several staff and students from the Research & Innovation Division and industry partners (including Paremtech and Hammill Machine) also participated, along with representatives from Cambrian and Canadore colleges,

“It was an honour to welcome Minister Fedeli and Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff to our Welland Campus and showcase our Niagara College-led SONAMI network, which assists small-and medium- sized companies with their manufacturing-related challenges while providing unique student experiences, creating jobs and contributing to Ontario’s economy,” said Niagara College President Sean Kennedy. “As the number one research college in Canada, we look forward to exploring new opportunities to support Ontario’s advanced manufacturing sector through innovation, across Ontario.”

The tour underlined SONAMI’s importance to providing valuable student experiences, supporting industries, SMEs and the economy.

It was noted that, thanks to FedDev funding, SONAMI has undertaken 460 projects (357 are complete), contributed to the commercialization of 149 new products or processes, resulted in $12.5M in sales, and has created or supported 282 jobs since it was established in 2016 and that more could be done with more funding envelopes.

“It was a privilege to join Minister Fedeli at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College to learn more about the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

“This network is a great example of how institutions of applied arts and technology can partner with local businesses to boost economic growth and development.  I was especially impressed to hear about Niagara College’s strategic partnerships with ParemTech in Wainfleet and Hamill Machine in Niagara Falls in promoting industry-leading innovation and supporting skills training.”

To access the advanced manufacturing network, representatives from interested businesses can contact SONAMI’s Business Development Lead, Mitchell Lutz at [email protected]. For more information about the network, please visit the SONAMI website.

Research Development Lead, SONAMI, Mitchell Lutz points out SONAMI’s member institutions from across Ontario.

SONAMI Project Manager Sarah Dimick showcases key metrics.

SONAMI Network Manager Kithio Mwanzia speaks to the visitors about SONAMI.

The visit coincided with Minister Fedeli’s announcement of a $65 million boost to the Niagara region manufacturing sector that same day.

The Ontario government announced that it was supporting $65 million in investments by three companies to boost local manufacturing and create 46 new, good-paying jobs in the Niagara region through the Regional Development Program (RDP).