College, manufacturing partners land $14 million in funding

by James Culic, Niagara This Week

Niagara College and its network of manufacturing partners have scored a $14-million boost from the federal government.

Three years ago, Niagara College helped establish the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation, a partnership between seven colleges and universities that pool their money and resources to advance the country’s manufacturing expertise.

The federal government has pumped about $21 million into SONAMI — $7.3 million in 2016, $14 million this year — which it says has helped 240 businesses and supported 552 jobs.

One such local business is Keyframe Digital, a visual effects studio in St. Catharines.

“Our goal was to reduce motion blur when filming green screen,” said co-founder Clint Green.

While he knew on paper how he wanted to proceed, Green said he first had to build the technology, write the software to power it and market the system.

Niagara College and SONAMI helped him do all three, and he said Keyframe’s film technology can be seen in dozens of major studio projects.

“When you hear a good idea, you get behind it, and Niagara College is always providing us with good ideas,” said St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle, at the Welland campus last Thursday for the announcement of the additional $14 million in funding.

Canada’s minister of infrastructure and communities, François-Philippe Champagne, was there too, and praised Niagara College for its work bringing SONAMI partners together.

He also noted its steady student growth, fuelled by international students who he said are flocking to the college.

“Colleges are the cornerstones for building small and medium-sized businesses,” said Champagne.