The inaugural Canadian BioDesign Conference
'Building a Vibrant Bioeconomy'
Wednesday September 12, 2018
About 180 people attended the event, which was introduced by Sandy Marshall, Executive Director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), a Sarnia-based business accelerator for enterprises moving into this field. “It represents a group of organizations and companies in Canada that through collaboration and partnership with government, through innovations with colleges and universities, strongly believe in building a vibrant bioeconomy in Canada,” he said.
Among the organizations working with BIC on BioDesign has been the Forest Products Association of Canada, the research network FP Innovations, and BioNB, an agency responsible for bioscience development in New Brunswick. Meaghan Seagrave, Executive Director of BioNB, recounted how BioNB and BIC, along with some 30 companies and 15 academic institutions, mounted a proposal last year in response to the federal government’s effort to establish a series of nation-wide superclusters, research and development powerhouses in strategic areas of the Canadian and global economies.
“Our focus was around establishing a low-carbon economy for Canada that transcended sectors,” she said, noting that the bid has more than $300 million committed to it. “It wasn’t specifically about forestry, it wasn’t specifically about agriculture — it was about the entire value chain.”
The group’s bid was ultimately unsuccessful, but the momentum behind it was maintained. Seagrave is now leading a series of consultations across the country over the next six months in order to support the federal governments plans to nurture this growing sector.
“We are one of the few countries in the world that does not have a bioeconomy strategy, and I think that’s a little bit shameful given that we are country of natural resources,” she said. We’re hoping to develop a national bioeconomy strategy, or at least a framework to start that strategy.