nGen: An innovation generator in the Niagara Region

nGen: An innovation generator in the Niagara Region

Innovation is thriving around Ontario, with great companies emerging all over the province. This guest blog is part of a monthly series featuring MaRS’ partners across Ontario and their up-and-coming companies.

Niagara Region’s Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) – nGen – connects technology-based businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers with services and programs to help them innovate and gain a competitive advantage.


By taking advantage of the RIC, emerging sectors across the Niagara Region can benefit from programs and services, including:

  • advisory services;
  • networking events;
  • educational programs;
  • access to market intelligence;
  • access to funding programs; and
  • business tools and resources.

And to top it off, these services are available at little or no cost.

In addition to assisting entrepreneurs with valuable introductions, the RIC has forged many partnerships, including with Brock University, the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, the City of St. Catharines, Niagara College, Niagara Region, the Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre and the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre, among others. These partnerships allow us to further expand the services we can offer our clients.

nGen also provides tenancy, projects and access to technology for digital media companies at its incubator, the Generator at One, and works with Brock University’s BioLinc to offer incubation to bio-technology startups and projects.

Companies that the RIC has worked with to date include Fourgrounds Media Inc., GroDigital and Southbrook Vineyards.


Fourgrounds Media Inc. is an innovative and client-focused motion picture production house with a passion for creating inspired and fresh media productions and a mandate to be a creative leader in the fusion of web video and traditional filmmaking.

Located in the heart of the picturesque Niagara Region, Fourgrounds’ experienced crew has all areas of production covered from project commencement to completion: planning and budgeting, concept and script writing, digital and film camera operating, and post-production, including animation and graphics.

Fourgrounds was “incubated” as a startup business at nGen’s the Generator at One. The company has experienced dynamic yearly growth since 2007 and recently graduated from the nGen model, expanding into a new creative studio space in downtown St. Catharines.

Fourgrounds was a finalist for the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce’s Business Achievement Award for Outstanding New Business, and Fourgrounds’ president, Adrien Thiessen, received Business Link’s 2012 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Award. The company has also received client awards, including the 2010 Strategic Video Award, the 2011 Ovation Award and the 2010 Global Best PSA.


GroDigital’s vision is to make learning fun, engaging and—most importantly—effective, through technologically innovative products with high-quality content guided by educational research.

GroDigital’s flagship product is a series of interactive children’s books designed to make reading fun and engaging while also evaluating essential reading skills for the 21st century. The e-books provide children with instant feedback on their reading performance, helping them with unfamiliar words and reading comprehension. What differentiates the GroDigital product is that its reading system evaluates children’s reading abilities based on word and phoneme recognition, fluency and comprehension. Parents and teachers are also provided with assessments of the children’s performance to help them better understand the areas that need improvement. With GroDigital’s interactive books, children learn to love reading with a 21st century twist.

GroDigital was founded by Danielle Beckett, a certified elementary school teacher, a PhD student in educational studies and a mother.


Made by Southbrook Vineyards, Bioflavia organic red wine grape skin powder is a totally new and innovative product that boasts a host of health-promoting benefits. Bioflavia is made from organic red wine grape skins that are sourced solely from Ontario’s Niagara wine region. The grape skins are put through a comprehensive drying and separating process and then milled into a fine powder. The resulting Bioflavia grape skin powder has a high concentration of antioxidants and features a wine-based aroma and flavour. Unlike many other health products, Bioflavia has only three ingredients: organic grape skin powder, organic grape powder and vitamin C.

The company has successfully generated $100,000 in equity investment from the CBC TV series “Dragons’ Den,” and is developing international markets for its products. (View the company’s pitch on the “Dragons’ Den” website.)

For more information on nGen’s programs and services, please visit If you think you could benefit from nGen’s program, fill out our Client Intake Form to provide us with more information about your company.