Driving Change Through Collaboration: Fanshawe College Is Turning Challenges Into Triumphs

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Nick Spina / LiveFit Foods © Courtesy of Fanshawe College

Fanshawe College—one of Ontario’s largest polytechnic institutions—recognizes the importance and value of partnering with employers and the community. With in-house experts in a variety of fields, including research and development, corporate skills training, product testing and more, Fanshawe provides ongoing support and talent to ensure a long-lasting, mutually beneficial outcome—a thriving, sustainable and innovative community.

The following stories share just a few of the many exciting and innovative projects that have come to Fanshawe through our valued partners. We are working side-by-side to address complex challenges facing our communities, helping to unlock the potential of our region and beyond.

LiveFit Foods

A partnership between Fanshawe’s Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI) and a local food preparation and delivery company is changing how single-use plastics are managed.

LiveFit Foods, based at The Grove in London’s Western Fair District, delivers prepared meals to customers across Canada. Its parent company, Ethey Group, has evolved into a brand that prioritizes sustainability in the food industry. As data surfaces about the harmful effects of single-use plastics on the environment, the team at LiveFit wanted to find a way to divert as much plastic from the landfill as possible while maintaining high-quality packaging for their customers.

To tackle this challenge, they reached out to CRI. The research team developed a process to break down polyester-based plastic packaging into liquid or powder forms, which can then be used to develop alternative, high-quality products. The process helps divert plastic containers from the landfill.

“Local innovation can have enormously positive outcomes when companies partner with colleges to tackle hard challenges,” said Ian Butcher, project manager.

Ethey Group’s founder and CEO, Nick Spina, sees an exciting opportunity to scale the project up and bring the technology to the marketplace.

“The energy from everyone at CRI really brought this project together,” said Nick. “The team has created something exciting that will make a big difference going forward.”

fanshawe college
North Star Windows and Doors © Courtesy of Fanshawe College

North Star Windows and Doors

What started as a request for employee upskilling led to new program development, cutting-edge research, and a valued partnership between Fanshawe College and North Star Windows and Doors.

“We’re committed to building the leaders of tomorrow; we worked with Fanshawe on training opportunities for our staff and to create the Window and Door Installer microcertification program,” said Sheldon Dyck, general manager of North Star. “We started to think about other initiatives that would fit with Fanshawe’s resources and expertise.”

This led to an exciting joint research project. Ultra-violet lights, specifically UV-C, are known to disinfect the air and surfaces. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals and long-term care facilities increased their use of these lights to help curb the spread of the virus.

“What isn’t known yet is what effect UV-C lights have on glass surfaces,” said Glenn Schmitchen, engineering manager at North Star. “For example, we use laminate film on coloured windows, and we don’t know if UV-C light may deteriorate the laminate.”

Through CRI, North Star secured a research grant from the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) to help answer this important question. Led by Niagara College, SONAMI is a network of nine post-secondary institutions, including CRI, backed by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). SONAMI leverages faculty, students and state-of-the-market equipment to support manufacturing in southern Ontario.

The research will take place at Fanshawe’s Advanced Business and Industry Solutions facility on Bondar Road in east London.

Jesse Long © Courtesy of Fanshawe College
© Courtesy of Fanshawe College

The Hot Sauce Co.

For Jesse Long, a graduate of Fanshawe’s Computer Systems Technology program, life has been about finding things that make him feel “fired up.” After building a successful career in information technology, he decided to change directions and pursue his passion—building a business to sell his own brand of hot sauce.

In 2019, Jesse started his own company, The Hot Sauce Co. At first, he cooked out of his home kitchen using rudimentary tools, including a pancake batter dispenser to bottle the sauce, and sold his product at farmer’s markets.

In the summer of 2020, Jesse enrolled in LeapIN Business Accelerator—a program through Fanshawe’s entrepreneurship centre, Leap Junction. LeapIN provides workshops, hands-on learning, networking and funding for entrepreneurs looking to take their business to the next level.

“We learned everything we needed to know about how to run a business,” said Jesse. “LeapIN played a big part in my success. The funding they provided allowed me to invest in equipment that took me from making 35 bottles of sauce per hour to 250 per hour.”

As the business continued to grow, Jesse wanted to take his company to the next level. CRI was key to unlocking this growth.

“The Hot Sauce Co. reached out to us for assistance with analyzing their production process and identifying opportunities to scale-up the business,” said Mustafa Khdair, industry development coordinator and research associate at CRI. “We provided a feasible scale-up solution to increase capacity while ensuring consistency of product quality.”

“The team went through every step of the process and calculated costs to find efficiencies,” said Jesse. “Their solution was a bottling system that will make a big difference in reducing waste.”

The Hot Sauce Co. sauces are now sold at more than 50 stores and restaurants across Ontario and online at thehotsauceco.com.

This work was funded by SONAMI, a FedDev-supported network that supports R&D activities for manufacturing companies in southwestern Ontario.

Fanshawe College is creating a pathway for external partners to access the College to meet their business goals, collaborate on solving complex problems and develop innovative solutions that benefit our communities. For more information on how you can partner with Fanshawe, visit fanshawec.ca/partner

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Fanshawe is one of Ontario’s largest polytechnic institutions with access to a talent pool of more than 30,000 students annually, 200,000 alumni and 3,000 industry-expert faculty.

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