Niagara College-led Greenhouse Technology Network expands membership
May 6, 2023 By Greenhouse Canada
May 6, 2023 – Brock University and the University of Windsor are the newest members of Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), a Niagara College-led consortium of academic research institutions supporting the research needs of greenhouse and related technology businesses through applied projects.
In 2019, the new network for research and technology in southern Ontario’s greenhouse sector was established with support from a $5-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
GTN is an association of research-focused centres that aims to increases innovation capacity to grow the Ontario greenhouse industry. Members collaborate with greenhouse and related technology businesses in southern Ontario with the goal of solving challenges through applied research projects.
The addition of Brock University and the University of Windsor to GTN now brings the total number of members in the network to five, including: Niagara College’s Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre, the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) at the University of Guelph, and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.
Brock University has existing relationships with greenhouse ecosystem stakeholders. Becoming a member will will allow GTN to “leverage the research capacity and assets of Brock University where more than 70 undergraduate programs, 50 graduate programs, and 600 faculty researchers in seven faculties offer breadth and depth of research opportunities and research facilities for industry partnerships, student training, and knowledge translation,” states a press release.
Brock’s Validation, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute is a landmark facility aimed at making Niagara a research and innovation leader in bioagriculture, bioscience and chemical manufacturing sectors.
“Brock houses over 300 square-feet of temperature and humidity-controlled research greenhouse and plant transformation facilities. Brock also has a national grapevine germplasm repository, a facility that maintains high-quality, virus-free plant materials and eliminates viruses and other pathogens of concern in grapevines. Finally, Brock includes expertise and research capacity in the areas of environmental sustainability, plant and fungi science, data science and analytics, the Internet of Things, environmental and biomechanical ergonomics, business, and operations management, and more.”
The University of Windsor
Agriculture at the University of Windsor (AgUWin), aids collaborations between growers, retailers, and technology providers through access to unique research infrastructure, expertise, and resources. It supports the security of Canada’s food supply chain through the adoption of research and technology commercialization while growing the next generation of agricultural leaders.
In engineering, AgUWin supports development in energy systems, waste-water management, sustainable growing practices, sensors and electronics, robotics and automation, network and communications, supply chains and logistics, policy and governance, and sustainability and the circular economy.
Science focus areas include computer science (systems, AI, vision systems), water treatment and chemical analysis, analytical services and testing, integrated pest management (IPM) and integrative biology.
AgUWin will become a centre for commercialization of new technologies, knowledge mobilization, the development of strategic partnerships and innovative training opportunities that incorporates the entire agri/agri-tech ecosystem.
“AgUWin has also partnered with Horteca, a joint venture between JEM Farms, a major greenhouse operator in Essex County, and Ecoation, a multi-national agriculture technology solutions provider headquartered in Essex County, to operationalize two acres of active research and development greenhouse space in Ruthven, Ontario into the AgUWin Innovation Greenhouse. This space will further support the research and development of commercially viable research and technology in a live environment and enable experiential learning opportunities for students.”
Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN)
GTN aims to help greenhouse and related technology businesses in southern Ontario solve innovation challenges by: assisting to grow connections across the greenhouse ecosystem and facilitating research collaborations; provide help in solving challenges by linking businesses with subject matter experts; giving access to the research expertise, equipment, facilities, and agile research project managers; and leveraging funding to help businesses lower the risk of innovation.
Members of GTN have a wide range of expertise and capabilities that include: optimizing production with technology; value-added sustainability through technology; and growing businesses using technology.
“GTN will leverage over $9 million in cash, which involves $11.5 million in total projects costs directed at research and development. GTN will direct $1.35 million toward productivity improvements. Projects with GTN members will commercialize 65 products, services, and processes. These projects will support $7.6 million in sales resulting from innovations commercialized and create or license over 77 intellectual properties,” notes a press release.
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