Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation

Product and process development projects are difficult for most small and medium-sized (SME) manufacturers to achieve. These projects require significant internal expertise, time, equipment, and materials to complete, and technical uncertainties often prevent businesses from making such investments. Not only is it difficult to plan and execute technology development projects, but the risks involved can often outweigh potential rewards.

Fortunately, resources exist to help Ontario-based manufacturers access the equipment and expertise needed to de-risk technology development projects.

The Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) is a network aimed at helping manufacturers and innovation-based businesses overcome innovation challenges. Through the network, businesses partner with post-secondary institutions who support their technology development project, leading to successful outcomes in less time and with less strain on a business’ resources.

Businesses accessing SONAMI may even reduce project costs by up to 50% through Canadian government funding.

Manufacturers are encouraged to contact SONAMI if they have a project that would benefit by partnering with post-secondary research facilities. Projects are currently being accepted for consideration, but must finish prior to December 31, 2018 to qualify for the current round of government funding support.

What is the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI)?

SONAMI is a network of Ontario-based post-secondary research institutions that assists manufacturers to develop and integrate highly-innovative technologies. The partnership includes Niagara College, Mohawk College, Sheridan College, and McMaster University.

Companies approach the network with a concept, then researchers develop and test innovative solutions that meet the manufacturer’s requirements.

From prototype development to production planning and production automation, SONAMI serves as a comprehensive resource for manufacturers creating and implementing cutting-edge technologies. Manufacturers can discuss their innovative project to SONAMI and become matched with the post-secondary institution whose facilities and staff/students are best-suited to support the project.

Over several weeks or months, manufacturers work with the post-secondary institution’s innovation team to plan and execute the project. Technologies can be at any stage of technology readiness when the project is submitted to SONAMI, and all intellectual property (IP) remains with the manufacturer so that its products/processes can be commercialized upon project completion.

Reduce Project Costs by Partnering with SONAMI

One of the most significant benefits for manufacturers is that all projects eligible to participate in SONAMI may also receive Canadian government funding. When the network launched in 2016, it was awarded $7.3 million from the federal government. These funds are now used to reduce the costs of participation for each eligible manufacturer.

The network provides a 1-to-1 match for company cash and in-kind contributions. This reduces overall project costs by up to 50% and helps more manufacturers participate.

There is no additional application process for businesses to receive funding. As the network has already received government support, funding is applied automatically to each assisted project. Post-secondary institutions invoice manufacturers for its services at reduced rates; manufacturers must then pay the college or university directly.

Capabilities of the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation

SONAMI provides southern Ontario manufacturers access to expertise and advanced manufacturing facilities. Through this approach, manufacturers can develop and commercialize new advanced manufacturing technologies.

The advanced manufacturing network consists of four post-secondary research institutions:

  1. Niagara College: A leader in advanced manufacturing technologies, Niagara College can support engineering, 3D technologies, and plastic additive manufacturing at its Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.
  2. Mohawk College: Supports metal additive manufacturing projects. Manufacturers may design and print custom parts to solve technical challenges.
  3. Sheridan College: Are specialists in robotics and flexible manufacturing. Their Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies can support a range of mechanical engineering projects.
  4. McMaster University: The McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) supports innovations in advanced materials tooling adoption.

Types of Advanced Manufacturing Projects Accepted

SONAMI collaborations support four types of advanced manufacturing technologies:

  1. Additive Manufacturing: 3D printed technologies harness significant potential for manufacturers. Discover its advantages and limitations, and how to apply it in your facilities.
  2. High Productivity Manufacturing: Tooling selection, development, and process optimization to realize new and improved products and robust full-scale manufacturing processes, from traditional to advanced materials.
  3. Flexible Manufacturing: Adapting production processes to increase the use of robots, sensors, computer-controlled machines, and other automated systems.
  4. Industrial Internet: Integrating machinery with networked sensors and software to increase monitoring and feedback from operations.

SONAMI: Manufacturing Innovation Success Stories

Some notable projects that have been successfully completed with SONAMI support include:

  1. Steel Manufacturer Earns Millions with ‘Magic’ Drill (McMaster)
  2. Dentist Set to Disrupt Implant Industry (Mohawk)
  3. Hamill Machine Co. Enters New Markets (Niagara)
  4. SONAMI Partnership helps Creators of ‘Intelligent’ Bed Sheet (Niagara)
  5. Medical Device Company Advances 3D Printing Technology (Sheridan)

Access SONAMI Advanced Manufacturing Support in 2018

To access the advanced manufacturing network, interested businesses have two ways of getting started:

  1. If the company identifies a post-secondary institution with the capabilities it needs, it may contact the institution directly.
  2. If the company would like to first discuss SONAMI and have their project matched to the most applicable institution, it may contact SONAMI’s Project Manager, Krystyn Keir.

Projects are currently being accepted for SONAMI. To qualify for this round of funding, projects must be completed prior to December 31, 2018.

Each project is subject to a vetting process that enables research institutions to decide if they have capacity to support the project or if it would be better executed by another member of the network. To minimize potential delays in the vetting process, please contact the most appropriate post-secondary institution or contact SONAMI’s Project Manager.

For more information on the network, please visit SONAMI’s website.

Posted: January 11, 2017 by Jeff Shepherd. Updated: March 29, 2018 by Jeff Shepherd

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Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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