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Dr. Tim Kenyon, Brock University

Dr. Tim Kenyon

Vice President of Research, Brock University

When the agri-food and agri-tech industry encounters a challenge, Brock University has the solution.

Brock University has a remarkable track record of partnerships that enable the agri-food and biomanufacturing sectors to work with leading researchers and support a talent pipeline of highly trained graduates,” says Tim Kenyon, Vice President of Research at Brock University.

Brock’s internationally-recognized Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is the go-to place for research and services focusing on the priorities of Canada’s grape and wine industry.

Vine and wine quality

Brock University scientist

Grapevine viruses, grapevine cold hardiness, and developing new or innovative wine styles are some of the many real-life challenges the industry faces.

CCOVI’s cutting-edge research uses state-of-the-art equipment to help its partners with a variety of projects:

  • Turning waste byproducts of ice wine and ice syrup into nutraceuticals.
  • Using a novel prototype technology to trap specific compounds released during the wine-making process and return them back into the wine, supplying a growing market for highly-aromatic white, rosé, and sparkling wines across Ontario.
  • As part of a $6.2-million multi-partner national funding commitment, it uses high-throughput sequencing technology with improved sensitivity to simultaneously detect multiple viruses in a grapevine, ensuring grape growers have faster and more affordable access to clean vines.

CCOVI offers a range of standard analytical services to the grape and wine, cider, beer, and distillery industries. Its outreach programs — Preharvest Monitoring, VineAlert, and Grapevine Virus Testing — provide invaluable data that industry uses during the growing season.

Continued investment in CCOVI’s industry-driven activities has yielded an economic return of more than $91 million to Ontario’s economy each year.

Partnering with industry on cannabis research

The recent legalization of cannabis is opening up a world of possibilities, and Brock was among the first universities in the country to receive a cannabis-related research and development license from Health Canada under the new CTLS system.

Cannabis research projects with industry partners have already started:

  • Improving the quality and health of cannabis plants being grown primarily for medicinal use through disease diagnostics and testing.
  • Investigating cannabis extractables for stability in a variety of products.
  • Exploring how to increase plant growth, resistance to fungal diseases, and resistance to insect pests.

Continued investment in CCOVI’s industry-driven activities has yielded an economic return of more than $91 million to Ontario’s economy each year.

The bigger picture

Brock’s agri-food and agri-tech expertise expands beyond the lab to explore and analyze how these innovations relate to wider society.

  • A Brock economist is studying how Niagara region’s agriculture industry can launch into the world of automation and robotics technology.
  • A Brock biologist is leading a national, multi-partner project to help grape growers find strategies to enhance vineyards’ long-term productivity while improving overall ecosystem health.
  • A Brock researcher developed innovative strategies to improve soil health and fertility in both grape vineyards and tea plantations.

Growing research capacity

Brock Partnership Strength infographic

The newly launched Brock-Niagara Validating, Prototyping, and Manufacturing Institute  aims to become a frictionless technology adoption centre that provides a one-stop shop for industry partners to access research, services and training from experts all across the university. The facility’s construction is scheduled to be completed later this year. A $5-million investment from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is supporting the VPMI’s equipment and applied research projects.   

Also in its early stages is Brock LINC, a hub that emphasizes Brock’s applied research, entrepreneurship, commercialization, and startup culture. Among Brock LINC’s facilities is the world’s first augmented reality, virtual reality, and sensory reality consumer laboratory, which combines sights, smells, and sounds to help researchers study the science of consumer choice in the wine industry.

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