SONAMI bolsters focus on industry recovery with new member addition

New partnership expands range of facilities and brings product design R&D capabilities

Today, George Brown College becomes the newest member of the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a Niagara College-led consortium of post-secondary academic institutions that provides competitive, disruptive and innovative solutions to Ontario’s manufacturers.

In 2019, the award-winning SONAMI entered its second phase, facilitated by a significant reinvestment of $14 million from the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), following a successful first three years. With this continued federal support came the announcement the network would increase its membership to 10 postsecondary partners, enhancing its reach to help manufacturers innovate.

The partnership will expand the range of facilities and expertise available to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and extend SONAMI’s reach further into southern Ontario. The addition of Toronto’s George Brown College to SONAMI now brings the total in the network to nine postsecondary partners, including: Centennial, Conestoga, Fanshawe, Lambton, Mohawk, Niagara and Sheridan colleges and McMaster University.

Through the centralized SONAMI hub, member institutions pool their resources and talent to match them to the needs of SMEs in various industries, giving them access to cutting-edge technologies, knowledge and funding in order to de-risk their applied R&D, create innovative new products and optimize processes.

Targeted industries include agri-food, health, environmental, computer and electronic automation, industrial internet of things technology (IIoT), traditional manufacturing, aerospace and transportation – and now expanded capacity in rapid early stage prototyping and assessment, with the addition of The Product Development Exchange (PDx). PDx has been a leader in product innovation and design, including concept design, product research, prototype fabrication, and technical communications, for more than a decade.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support southern Ontario’s advanced manufacturing sector,” said the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “The SONAMI network is delivering vital resources and support to manufacturing businesses so they can innovate and grow, creating good jobs for Canadians and driving strong and resilient economic growth.”

“We are so pleased to join SONAMI ranks and stand alongside such strong players in the innovation ecosystem. This membership will allow us to sustain a pipeline of steady, reliable support for our partners—past, present and future,” said Krista Holmes, PhD, associate vice-president, Research & Innovation at George Brown. “To stay relevant in an ever-changing market, industry has long needed to evolve quickly, but the difficulty in doing so has been magnified by the last two years.

“This is our goal: to support our partners’ resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges, whether it’s in launching new products, adopting new technologies or building robust regional supply chains.”

Since its inception, industry partners have benefitted from collaborative projects by: increasing sales, reducing manufacturing costs, diversifying product lines, and realizing their innovative ideas. SONAMI partners have worked with more than 200 SMEs to complete more than 257 projects, developed 437 prototypes, created or maintained 206 permanent jobs and provided skills and training for hundreds of students to prepare them for future jobs.

“George Brown College’s focus on product design and innovation brings a unique set of capabilities to SONAMI, further enhancing support for manufacturers,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, vice-president, Research & External Relations at Niagara College.

“By welcoming this institution – with its strong history of applied research – to the partnership, the network will advance its resources available to assist SMEs to remain competitive by offering leading-edge solutions for industry partners,” said Nantel, who is also the chair of the SONAMI Steering Committee. “At the same time, we continue to provide more students with the opportunities to gain essential skills by working alongside research staff and faculty on real-world projects.”

To access the advanced manufacturing network, representatives from interested businesses can contact SONAMI’s project manager, Sarah Dimick, at [email protected]


Toronto’s George Brown College is located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and other Indigenous peoples. George Brown prepares innovative, adaptable graduates with the skills to thrive in a rapidly changing job market. With three campuses in the downtown core, the college blends theory with experiential learning, applied research, and entrepreneurship opportunities. George Brown offers 164 full-time programs and 180 continuing education certificates/designations across a wide variety of professions to more than 27,100 full-time students, including 29 percent international students, and receives more than 58,000 continuing education registrations annually. Students can earn certificates, diplomas, graduate certificates, apprenticeships, and degrees.  

NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division administers research funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers and assist industry partners with leaping forward in the marketplace.

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest part-time studies 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, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.

For more than 12 years, FedDev Ontario has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the Agency’s impact in southern Ontario by exploring the Southern Ontario Spotlight, pivotal projects, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.