With support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is ready once again to offer small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) access to the College’s resources to provide e-business and technology adoption solutions.

Niagara College will work with as many as 20 local companies, thanks to $50,000 from OCE. Six vouchers are available for companies to access Technology Adoption projects that will focus on technology development and testing/validation activities to support innovation. The remaining 14 vouchers will focus on e-business solutions such as website development, online sales process, digital and social media, and customer relationship management.

“Our new website has greatly improved overall traffic to our retail store and is a huge asset for us,” notes Amy Bond, officer manager with Industrial Pump Solutions Bond’s Niagara Falls-based company worked with Research & Innovation last year to enhance its e-commerce capabilities. “Our customers can navigate through our website with ease, which has helped increase our overall sales.” As Ontario’s largest aftermarket and surplus pump inventory supplier, this new easy-to-navigate e-store is essential to their business, she adds.

“There are so many factors that are often affected by change, especially in keeping up with the competition,” says Jaqueline Waspe, executive chef and proprietor at Spring Manor Bed and Breakfast .“Spring Manor’s website needed updating to showcase our amenities and what sets Spring Manor apart from the others.”

For each project, the Research & Innovation team – which includes Niagara College students, recent graduates, and expert faculty members from the New Media Web Design program – met with the industry partners several times during the project, assessing the business’s needs, proposing solutions, and then populating the pages with the relevant content.

“For the past few months we have been exchanging photos and text, and the team has been training me how to manage the site on my own. The site is linked to social media and has a reservation link for guests to inquire about booking a room,” says Waspe.

“Every company needs a strong web presence and e-business tools to compete in today’s increasingly digital world. Our research team has the right tools and talent to work with local companies to provide them with that competitive edge,” notes Marc Nantel, associate vice-president, Research & Innovation.

Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Voucher for E-Business and Technology Adoption (VEBTA) program connects eligible companies with the expertise and resources available at Ontario colleges to help their business scale up the development, adoption and implementation of online tools and other technologies to drive innovation. These college projects will lead to new market opportunities for the business, which may include exports.

Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division provides real-world solutions for business, industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. They conduct projects that provide innovative solutions, such as producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses. With funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies, students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry partners leap forward in the marketplace. For more information,

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics.

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