Canadian Biomass Magazine

Canada should build up its biochemical valley

June 9, 2017
By Julia Struyf and A.J. (Sandy) Marshall

June 9, 2017 - For over 70 years the petrochemical industry drove significant global growth and expanded the chemistry industry. But control of greenhouse gas is creating transformation and development of a hybrid chemistry industry, setting a new global standard for the 21st century. This shift puts Canada in a unique position to become a global leader in the world of chemistry. We have the resources to create a sustainable hybrid chemistry industry.

Julia Struyf is a marketing and communications co-ordinator for Bioindustrial Innovation Canada For over 70 years the petrochemical industry drove significant global growth and expanded the chemistry industry.

The resources are agriculture, forestry and waste materials. The knowledge is within Canada’s universities and industries, or other areas of the globe that need our natural resources.

In Sarnia, Ont., a true hybrid cluster has developed in the areas of green and sustainable chemistry, based on fostering partnerships and on having all the right individuals come together within industry, colleges, universities and governments to help support the cluster.

The cluster is not only providing support to Sarnia’s major chemical and refining industries, it is also critical to new industrial bio-sector built in Sarnia-Lambton.

Sarnia-Lambton is becoming a site location for the bio-based chemical industry and green energy (solar) industry. Sarnia is known for playing to its strengths and is characterized as a leader in the bioeconomy.

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) has been a key organization in getting the Sarnia cluster established. BIC’s focus is to help Ontario and Canada become a globally recognized leader in taking sustainable feedstock, such as agricultural and forestry by-products and wastes, and turning these renewable resources into energy and value-added chemicals for use in applications ranging from construction to automotive parts. BIC in collaboration with partners such as the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership, Lambton College Applied Research Centres and the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park is aiming to position Sarnia-Lambton region as a world-scale Bio Hybrid and Chemistry Cluster.

The cluster vision has attracted many bio-based SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and large industry to Sarnia-Lambton for their pilot-scale and full-scale operations projects including BioAmber, Suncor Ethanol, Comet Biorefining, Woodland Biofuels, GreenCore Composites and KmX Corporation. Sarnia-Lambton is succeeding in integrating green and sustainable chemistry with its traditional petroleum industries and consequently attracting investment and creating jobs.

Many of these bio companies rely on local SMEs for manufacturing, engineering and environmental services. At BIC we have expanded our current business model to provide a new way of funding for SME’s. The Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovation (COMM SCI), acts as a hub for commercialization of sustainable chemistry and bio-based innovation, providing business and technical support to participating SMEs. COMM SCI was established with support from the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario’s Investing in Regional Diversification initiative and the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.

COMM SCI along with BIC’s Sustainable Chemistry Alliance Investment Fund invests in sustainable technology start-ups, which are key to our strategy and to building the Ontario bioeconomy.

BIC has proven that it can create jobs and economic value sustainably for Canada. BIC has created thousands of jobs, leveraged over $150 million in investments for its 16 early stage companies and contributed to the transition towards a low carbon economy.

The hybrid chemistry cluster in Sarnia-Lambton is emerging anchored by BioAmber and is now building out the first cellulosic glucose sugar supply chain in the world. BIC has played an important role in establishing this cluster.

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