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Local bio-industry given huge vote of confidence

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A new $12 million federal grant is establishing Sarnia-Lambton as the bio-economy hub of Canada, says the executive director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC).

“We are developing the only bio-economy cluster in Canada. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything like this anywhere else in the world,” said Sandy Marshall.

Once the money is invested in companies bringing bio-based products to market, as many as 478 full-time equivalent jobs could be created within those companies, Marshall estimates.

“Everyone should be excited. As we develop an industrial bioeconomy in Sarnia, we are diversifying. This is allowing our community to move toward a lower carbon-based economy.”

The $12-million FedDev Ontario grant, coupled with a $3-million provincial grant announced in June, paves the way for another four years of investing in bioindustrial innovations.

Located at the University of Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park on Modeland Road, BIC has spent the past eight years investing in 12 companies that use biotechnology.

The BIC provides cash and expertise that allows companies to final-test new products and bring them to market.

The shining star is BioAmber, said Marshall. BIC made a $500,000 investment in BioAmber that led to construction of a $141-million plant on Vidal Street that produces bio-succinic acid, a building block chemical made from corn syrup.

Four months ago, BioAmber announced plans to build a second bio-chem plant at the TransAlta Bluewater Energy Park that could cost up to $500 million. Currently, BioAmber employs 60 people in Sarnia and is considered an anchor of the region’s sustainable chemistry and bio-based manufacturing sector.

Navdeep Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced the $12-million grant at the research park.

Together, the provincial and federal grants will form the basis for the new Centre for the Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovations, an initiative that will attract another $12 million from industry partners and the research park, said Marshall.

“The full $27-million has been committed and now it’s time to execute the commitments we made to the government.

“The reason the government is excited to work with us is that they want to see more jobs from research and innovation, and we are actually doing the commercialization and taking these ideas to market.”

He anticipates new investment in at least 12 more companies over the next four years.



* $12 million federal grant announced for Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) to help businesses get new products to market.

* 3 million announced earlier by the province.

* Monday will assist at least 12 bio-based companies over four years.

* Indirect creation of 478 full-time equivalent jobs projected.

* To will be administered through a new $27-million Centre for the Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovations located at the Western Ontario Research Park.

* Sarnia expected to become Ontario hub for commercialization and collaboration of clean technologies.




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