Dr. Chandra Singh, Applied Research Chair in Agricultural Engineering and Technology.

Lethbridge College has received one of the most significant financial boosts to its applied research activities in the college’s history. The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded two grants to Lethbridge College, totalling more than $1.3 million.

The approved projects include $935,490 for Dr. Chandra Singh’s work towards creation of the Advanced Post-Harvest Technology Centre, and $410,921 for Mike McCready’s work in the Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) initiative.

“We are thrilled to receive two of the largest financial grants in the history of our Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” says Dr. Samantha Lenci, Provost and Vice President – Academic. “These grants acknowledge our expertise in the fields of post-harvest technology and virtual and augmented reality and will provide our researchers with a boost that will allow them to make a real difference for our industry partners.”

The projects are funded through CFI’s College-Industry Innovation Fund (CIIF), which supports productive partnerships between Canadian colleges and institutions, and businesses.

“We have committed to building our applied research capacity over many years,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Associate Vice President, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Receiving these grants is acknowledgement from the federal level that we are positioned to do important work alongside industry that will benefit southern Alberta and the local economy.”

Dr. Chandra Singh, Applied Research Chair in Agricultural Engineering and Technology.

The grant for the Post-Harvest Technology Centre will help address increasing global food demands. One-fifth of all food produced in Canada is avoidably lost or wasted during harvesting, packing, storing, handling, transporting and processing. Dr. Singh’s work applies technology to crops during the post-harvest period to significantly reduce food loss and wastage.

“I am very excited about the CFI funding announcement to develop the Advanced Post-Harvest Technology Centre at Lethbridge College,” says Dr. Chandra Singh, Applied Research Chair in Agricultural Engineering and Technology. “This research capacity is crucial for my research program in post-harvest storage and handling of grains, sugar beets and potatoes. The proposed state-of-the-art facility in partnership with the agriculture industry will be unique in Alberta and will fill the much-needed research capacity gap in post-harvest research focused on Alberta crops.”

Mike McCready, the President's Applied Research Chair in Virtual and Augmented Reality.

The research funding will also help bridge a gap between industries and community organizations that could benefit from virtual or augmented reality technology and the expertise to support them. Many industries are exploring the integration of VR and AR to enhance employee safety, improve business process efficiency and reduce operating costs, but they lack the expertise and equipment to articulate a vision and develop immersive experiences.

“Funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation will allow Lethbridge College to increase its VR/AR research activities with industry partners to solve challenges,” says Mike McCready, the President's Applied Research Chair in Virtual and Augmented Reality. “It will also allow southern Alberta businesses to access advanced technology not readily available. This investment is a testament to the work done already and an indicator of how important it is.”

Today’s announcement saw CFI award almost $17 million for 16 research infrastructure projects at 15 colleges across the country. Lethbridge College is the only institution to have multiple projects funded during this round of applications.

“As we work together to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also look at the next big challenges in front us, with climate change at the top of the list,” says The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “The projects we are funding today will allow colleges to provide the tools researchers need to find solutions to these great challenges and develop the world-class talent businesses covet.”

Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region. It brings together researchers, community organizations and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications. Lethbridge College has been recognized as one of Canada’s fastest-growing research colleges while earning its highest ever placement in 2020’s annual ranking of Canada’s top 50 research colleges. The college placed 26th on the top 50 list released by Research Infosource and ranked third in research income growth.