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From farm waste to water bottles: Biotech gets a boost

Reference: CTV News

For about 15 years, Lambton College — primarily through its Centre of Excellence — has been championing what is called clean-tech. Now significant steps are being taken to help bring those technologies to market.

"They had the flexibility and adaptability to help us meet our goals,” says Alex Ward.

Ward is president of Origin Materials Canada Research. Origin Materials has utilized Lambton College's research and testing capabilities as they launch a new plant in Sarnia, Ont.

The company has partnered with major players like Danone, Nestle and Pepsi as they prepare to launch 100 per cent plant-based plastic products that are fully recyclable and 100 per cent carbon neutral.

"There is a significant effort that is happening,” says Lambton College’s Vice President of Research and Innovation Mehdi Sheikhzadeh. “Across the region, across Canada, around building a clean-tech sector, but in this specific case this is a bio-clean tech sector."

The use of biomass to replace petroleum in commonly used materials is starting to take hold. The biomass is often the by-products from farming or forestry.

The $3 million in federal funding announced Wednesday will help launch a project called the Canadian Bio-Cleantech Applied Research Network (CBARN). It will focus on helping small and medium start-ups get to market using the resources offered by Lambton, along with partner colleges like Fanshawe, Loyalist and Mohawk.

"Climate change is the central challenge of our time,” emphasizes London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos.

“We embrace it by recognizing the opportunities that come along with that embrace — making sure that we can work with businesses, with post-secondary institutions, with other organizations and in the end you have opportunities that are created. Opportunities that relate to the economy, jobs, growth,” he said.

Lambton College President Rob Kardas says what is also created is a foundation of expertise that will carry the economy forward.

"Colleges are all about hands-on learning, experiential learning. Our research and innovation area is a hub for that now. In that, we have over 200 students at any given time working in research, on co-ops, full-time employment after they graduate,” says Kardas. “So, it's really been an incredible effort."

The money comes through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. FedDev Ontario officials say the funding will support over 65 start-ups, leading to the development of 80 technologies or processes and also supporting 110 jobs... Read More