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Centennial receives $2 million in NSERC grants to support local retailers

centennial college students and faculty talking during a wimtach hackathon event

Centennial College has received significant long-term funding from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to enhance its applied research capabilities in response to the needs of the community and local companies. Centennial will establish a Centre for Explainable Data Analytics (CEDA), aimed at developing intelligent systems for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Greater Toronto Area.

CEDA represents a new applied research focus at the college, one that will contribute to the recovery and growth of Ontario’s retail sector. Centennial will receive $2,000,000 in funding from NSERC’s College and Community Innovation Program and the Build Innovation Enhancement Grant over the next five years. CEDA will support approximately 150 retail-sector SMEs, provide 140 students with paid applied research opportunities, and engage 500 students through capstone projects at Centennial’s School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science.

“The Centre for Explainable Data Analytics was created to support retail-sector companies who are struggling as a result of the ongoing pandemic,” says Dr. Purnima Tyagi, Director of CEDA. “Local businesses are experiencing challenges with technology and how to make sense of the data they are already collecting. CEDA will be helping these companies to interpret this data in a way that can support business recovery and growth. The Centre will empower retail companies to make better informed business decisions.”

“Strong business benefits the entire community,” says Andrea Hazell, president of the Scarborough Business Association, a partner of the college. “Centennial’s Centre for Explainable Data Analytics will provide services to vibrant and diverse local businesses that could benefit greatly from a digital transformation, which is much needed in the wake of COVID-related business closures. Activity at CEDA will add to Scarborough’s innovation ecosystem and be transformative to many local businesses and our economy.”

Centennial is one of Canada's top colleges for research and innovation, and CEDA is the newest research centre to be formed under the college’s Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES) department. CEDA builds on the ongoing research activity and partnerships involving sectors including healthcare, manufacturing, energy and sustainable development, while expanding applied research capacity to align with the needs of industry and community partners.

For more information about applied research activity at Centennial College, please contact aries@centennialcollege.ca.