Fanshawe College’s Centre for Research and Innovation to launch new Packaging Advancement Centre for developing more efficient processes in food packaging, receives C$353,343 grant from Canada Foundation for Innovation; center to open later in year

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June 14, 2023 (press release) –

Fanshawe College’s Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI) has received a grant of $353,343 from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to launch a new Packaging Advancement Centre. The centre will work to develop more efficient processes in food packaging, and is expected to open later this year.
 
Housed at The Grove at Western Fair District, an agribusiness hub where participants share resources, space and connections, the new Packaging Advancement Centre will address the difficulty small- and medium-sized food processing enterprises face in finding facilities to help them develop packaging for new products on a small scale. Food processing is one of London's main economic drivers, employing more than 8,000 people. Over 70 local companies produce meats, frozen foods, beverages and ready-made meals, among other products. While the agri-food sector is the fastest-growing in the region, a major challenge exists in developing and implementing new packaging technologies. Most food processing companies in London are small (under 50 employees) and are increasingly affected by rising consumer demand for sustainable products, legislative pressure to reduce single-use plastics and longstanding labour shortages.
 
“The Packaging Advancement Centre will help shorten the commercialization gap for food processing companies,” says Alison Ewart, dean of CRI. “It’s great for us to be able to help them come up with a new product, or improve an existing one, but if they can’t package it afterwards, that is a major challenge. Getting companies to the critical stage where they can actually sell their product is a game changer for most of them.”
 
“The partnership between CRI and Western Fair Association has created the base for the packaging centre concept to become reality,” says James Smith, director of agri-food at The Grove. “It is an extraordinary opportunity for small-scale, start-up food processing companies. It removes the barriers to entering the market by supplying attainable packaging solutions for their delicious food products, for us all to benefit from.”
 
The Centre will also conduct research on sustainable packaging, led by Sahar Samimi, professor of food science, innovation and processing in Fanshawe's School of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts. Samimi will explore biodegradable solutions to the pervasive use of plastic packaging in the food sector. Other major research themes will include safe packaging and the automation of packaging processes.
 
The funding was announced on May 24 by the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, through CFI’s College Fund, which supports productive partnerships within Canadian industries and communities.
 
“Through investments like the College Fund, our government is proud to enable colleges to drive innovation in Canada,” says Minister Champagne. “With their infrastructure and highly skilled researchers and students, colleges play a central role in building a stronger economy and are at the forefront of addressing the country's most pressing challenges.”
 
“Collaboration is at the heart of Canada’s college community,” says Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation. “By forging research connections across public, private and non-profit sectors, colleges are positioned to be key contributors to our national prosperity. These CFI investments will enhance their ability to conduct meaningful research that serves the needs of our communities.”

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