Centennial College Awarded $3.5 Million in Funding to Support Applied Research Projects
Centennial College is pleased to announce that it has received significant long-term funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The three grants will support multiple research projects, and extend Centennial’s capacity to sustain student research in areas including energy optimization and storage, healthcare management, and health research.
Centennial is one of Canada's top colleges for research and innovation. Leading these activities at Centennial College is the department of Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES), which includes the Wearable, Interactive and Mobile Technology Access Centre in Health (WIMTACH) and the new Innovation Hub at Centennial’s Progress campus. Currently, WIMTACH at ARIES engages more students in paid research opportunities than any other Technology Access Centre activity in Canada.
“The renewal of these grants is significant as it expands our research and training capabilities across rapidly evolving industries and technology sectors,” says Jonathan Hack, Executive Director of ARIES. “As a direct result of this award, we can continue to engage students in paid research work, and exponentially increase our community impact.”
Involving students in research at the College helps them build key skills for meaningful careers after graduation. In a message shared with the community on June 11, 2020, College President and CEO Dr. Craig Stephenson reaffirmed the College’s commitment to responding “quickly, flexibly and effectively to address community and labour market needs.” This response is reflected in the College’s new and ongoing research activities.
During these unprecedented times, Centennial College researchers have been using their skills to respond to the needs of the industry and their communities. In spring of 2020, the College’s research department fast-tracked the design of a novel, portable ventilator in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, Centennial staff, students and faculty collaborated with their partners to get much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) to the frontline workers of Scarborough’s local hospitals.
Currently, Centennial has nearly 100 student researchers engaged across more than 30 research projects. “By the end of this renewed investment, we will have increased our capacity to support upwards of 484 additional student research internships at WIMTACH alone,” says Dr. Purnima Tyagi, Director of WIMTACH. “These internships will account for more than 100,000 hours of student activity to support TAC delivered services, and ultimately prepare our students for career success.”
NSERC awards and projects at Centennial College include:
Next-Generation Energy Storage, Optimization, and Microgrids for a Carbon-Constrained Economy
Amount awarded: $899,999 (Extend IE, CCIP)
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is the hub of the sector in Ontario, and by 2021, 56,500 jobs across the province are expected to be created in the renewable energy and clean technology sector. Over the past 15 years, Centennial College has developed extensive expertise and facilities to support renewable energy applied research. The recently announced Innovation Enhancement Extension program will allow Centennial to focus on helping local small- and medium-sized enterprises overcome the product development challenges of technologies that store, manage and optimize energy. This program will involve collaborative applied research projects with seven partner companies and will support more than 50 student research assistants.
Technology Solutions for Healthcare Management and Health Research and Promotion
Amount Awarded: $900,000 (Extend IE, CCIP)
Centennial has successfully supported Ontario’s health technology sector’s small- and medium-sized enterprises since 2011. By 2024, the number of Ontarians aged 65 years or older is expected to double, contributing to healthcare costs consuming 70% of the provincial budget. Digitizing healthcare delivery through the application of health technologies, and addressing the rising costs and demand for research support in machine learning, data analytics, natural language processing, image processing, signal processing, robotics, mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering, is recognized as a key strategy to improving patient outcomes. The NSERC award will enable Centennial to help companies overcome challenges related to the design, development and commercialization of health technologies, and support the development of products that can compete in the global healthcare market.
Wearable, Interactive, and Mobile Technologies Access Centre in Healthcare (WIMTACH)
Amount awarded: $1,750,000 (Technology Access Centre)
WIMTACH is one of just 30 designated Technology Access Centres across the country and serves as a catalyst for the growing ecosystem of digital health innovations, providing specialized knowledge and support for companies in Toronto and across Canada. To date, WIMTACH has engaged 406 students and 47 faculty to collaborate with 148 companies and community partners, transforming innovative ideas into commercialized success stories. The NSERC award will provide WIMTACH with the resources necessary to help actualize research ideas and to increase Centennial’s student engagement in research