For the first time, the College of New Caledonia has cracked the top 50 research colleges in Canada.
With a research income of $660,000, CNC was ranked No. 48 by the consulting company Research Infosource Inc.
Four years ago the college started focusing on applied research and innovation, said Hardy Griesbauer, who has been the director since that office opened.
"We've been slowly increasing the number of projects that we've been doing with regional companies and community partners," he said.
"Being on this list now, being in the top 50, really reflects that growth that we've experienced over four years. It also reflects for us the fact that companies and community partners in our region are starting to recognize the role that the college can play in fostering innovation in central B.C."
In 2014, CNC's research income almost doubled from $348,000 in 2013. That represents a change of almost 90 per cent.
That big jump is connected to funding from the forestry industry and the federal government, Griesbauer said.
"What we've really seen is that the forestry industry has really embraced this opportunity to collaborate with the college on a number of applied research projects," said Griesbauer, with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada as its main source of funding.
The college has gained more attention as it successfully completes projects, he said.
"There are a number of real challenges facing the forest industry - and opportunities as well - and they were really interested in exploring those with the college."
Some ongoing projects include research around planting different tree species in anticipation of climate change as well as the college's work with companies considering use of drones.
CNC's research forest is mainly to thank for that investment, but Griesbauer also notes faculty in business, power engineering and more are also engaged in applied research. According to the company's numbers, CNC has 12 faculty conducting research.
The rankings are based on survey data sent to the company by each college, said Ron Freedman, chief executive officer of Research Infosource Inc.
"Colleges are initially ranked on the basis of their total research income," said Freedman by email, but the company also does rankings by number of formal research partnerships and number of research projects completed.
That initial ranking appears to stick as the top 50 appear in order of research income, with George Brown College at No. 1 with $14.2 million raised in 2014.
"It is a way for us to gauge how we're doing nationally," said Griesbauer, adding colleges are starting to play more of a role in "fostering economic development through innovation."
That ranking is recognized within the college industry, he said, and the college plans to use it as a recruitment tool.
"What we want to emphasize now to prospective students at CNC is if you come here, we'll strive to give you these opportunities to be involved in applied research or innovation."
Four B.C. colleges made the list, including British Columbia Institute of Technology in fifth place, with just over $7 million research income.