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Dr. James House and a research student work on novel food processing and quality assurance techniques at a UM Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences lab.

UM research projects receive over four million in federal investment

Construction of UAV testing facility and protein cluster development among variety of supported projects

November 30, 2022 — 

On Nov. 18, Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) announced the federal funding of more than $4 million for two key research projects at the University of Manitoba, led by Drs. Phil Ferguson and James House. This investment will create a variety of jobs and revenue and most importantly will support innovation and growth in Manitoba.

“This funding represents an important investment in the future of agriculture and technology in Manitoba,” says Dr. Mario Pinto, UM vice-president (research and international). “Both of these PrairiesCan funded projects will also provide facilities for hands-on learning, improving the student experience at UM overall and providing job-ready experience.”

Ferguson, is associate professor with the Price Faculty of Engineering, researching safe, reliable and trustworthy technologies in mechanical engineering. The federal investment of more than $2 million from the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative (AARI) is an acknowledgement of the impact of his research. His project focuses on establishing a controlled and physically separated DroneZone facility that is fully instrumented. This facility will increase the capacity in research and skills training of unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“Canadian companies in the Prairies are relying on drones more and more to assist with everything from bridge inspections to precision farming and water sampling,” says Ferguson. His research focuses on advancing these applications by developing intelligent control systems that enable companies to adopt these mobile robotic technologies safely and reliably.

“This new DroneZone facility, made possible by funding from PrairiesCan, will accelerate this critical research by providing an indoor proving ground for the next generation of drones and mobile robotics,” says Dr. Marcia Friesen, dean, Price Faculty of Engineering.

The PrairiesCan federal investment also supports the advancement of technologies supporting the protein research cluster. Dr. James House, professor in food and human nutritional sciences in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, is leading the development of a new Protein Research Strategy.

In support of House’s goal to increase capacity for the development of innovative protein foods, more than $2.3 million is being invested in UM through the Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) program. RIE allows the Government of Canada to invest in programs that support businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs. This particular investment seeks to further improve UM’s position as a leader in value-added agriculture within the province of Manitoba.

In addition to the impact on agriculture overall, House explains: “This research infrastructure will be critical for training our students in novel food processing and quality assurance techniques. Additionally, it will provide opportunities for continued education and micro credentials for those already in the food processing sector.” 

Looking ahead, House hopes to continue his team’s strong track record of assisting local, national and international companies of all sizes to position new and sustainable protein foods and ingredients within the marketplace.

For more information on this exciting announcement, please visit Prairies Economic Development Canada.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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