Bioindustrial Innovation Canada 2017 Year in Review

What is The Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovation (COMM SCI)?

In 2016, BIC established the COMM SCI initiative program, which acts as a hub for the commercialization of sustainable chemistry and bio-based innovation. COMM SCI was established with a $12-million contribution from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) Investing in Regional Diversification initiative and additional support from the Government of Ontario's Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.

BIC champions commercialization, cluster and value chain development by providing business advice, technical services and project funding support to participating small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs). BIC is accelerating technology development, removing barriers to commercialization and enabling broader product adoption.

COMM SCI has two components, investments and projects.


In 2017 BIC has worked with 122 companies ranging from bioenergy to biomaterials, agricultural sustainability, engineering consulting firms, solar energy producers, and more. We have committed $1.875 million in investments in the following early stage companies:

  • Ubiquity Solar Developing a high performance advanced silicon materials focused on the photovoltaic (PV) industry. Ubiquity Solar uses a low cost, proprietary silicon refinement and crystallization technology to provide products that will outperform standard PV silicon ingots, bricks and wafers.

  • Comet Biorefining Developed a novel process to convert non-food cellulosic biomass into high quality cost-competitive cellulosic glucose.

  • Origin Materials Origin’s technology produces bio-based intermediates from lignocellulosic (second generation) raw materials for use in a wide range of plastic applications.

  • FireRein Firefighters have created FireRein Eco-Gel, an effective, safe and non-toxic firefighting water additive.

  • Greyter Systems Inc. Out-of-the-box water reuse technology that creates water-efficient buildings and homes, addresses water scarcity, reduces water costs, and achieves LEED quickly and affordably.

Our recent COMM SCI investments demonstrate not only our continued commitment to supporting innovative companies in the bioeconomy, but our expansion into other areas using clean, green and sustainable chemistry. “BIC is very excited to support our 2017 COMM SCI activities. There are many benefits to producing clean, green and sustainable products within a strong industrial biotechnology sector,” said Keegan Hoover, Business Analyst at BIC.


BIC launched 12 COMM SCI projects in 2017 with a total project value of $12 million. The following SME’s and early stage companies participating are:

  • BioAmber,

  • S2G BioChem,

  • AChT,

  • Econse Water,

  • Li-Cycle Corp.,

  • EcoSynthetix,

  • Mirexus Biotechnologies Inc.,

  • Bio-Techfar Inc. and,

  • Origin Materials


Building strong partner relationships is a critical part of the success of COMM SCI particularly regarding cluster building in Sarnia Lambton. The following companies became COMM SCI partners during 2017:

  • Bond Consulting Group,

  • Paton Engineering,

  • LEHDER Environmental Services


In 2017, the Bioproducts AgSci Research Cluster under AAFC Growing Forward 2 (GF2) entered its final year, with the framework ending in March 2018. Many Cluster activities completed project work or are currently completing project tasks in the final months of the program. The Annual General Meeting for the Bioproducts Cluster was held February 8 in Toronto and attended by Cluster participants and representatives from industry, government, and academia. The event highlighted developments at the research level within the Bioproducts sector and served as an excellent meeting and networking opportunity for all attendees.

In advance of the end of the GF2 program, BIC is turning attention to the next AAFC framework program, Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), as a mechanism to continue to support the bioeconomy and Bioproducts commercialization efforts. A call for proposals was initiated resulting in 74 individual Letters of Intent originating from 9 provinces. Through independent reviews and multiple discussions with the Cluster’s Science Advisory Body, 24 projects were identified and submitted to AAFC as part of a proposal for a new Bioproducts AgSci Cluster under CAP.


Fighting climate change and moving towards a low carbon economy is an urgent priority. With the knowledge gained by working with partners and by developing internal capabilities and understanding, BIC will be a critical resource to provincial and federal governments within Canada for targeted investments and for tracking the metrics for international reporting.

Two companies (BioAmber and EcoSynthetix) have been able to quantify their GHG emission reductions from their operations and have estimated a total GHG reduction of 378,000 tonnes per year.


  1. A project done with Comet Biorefining supported the development of a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) for the biomass to sugar value chain. The LCA will establish the greenhouse gas (GHG) profile all along the value chain in order to understand the benefits that this value chain can bring to the Ontario bioeconomy. The LCA also compared the GHG profile for bio-based plastic versus high density polyethylene.

Comet Biorefining has developed a technology which converts cellulosic biomass to high purity dextrose sugar. A formal lifecycle analysis of the project has been completed. The emissions from the production of dextrose using Comet’s corn stover-based dextrose versus corn grain-based dextrose were quantified and have a similar emission intensity to that of the grain-based dextrose.


In March of 2017, The County of Lambton provided Sarnia-based Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) with a $4.5-million loan to support COMM SCI investment fund. As a result of this 4.5 million dollar loan from the County of Lambton, Southwestern Ontario could see up to $11 million invested over the next few years into new start-up bioindustrial companies creating jobs for the regional economy.


A key element to the success of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) is its ability to lever its investment funding by forming strong working alliances with other venture capital funding organizations. These partnerships ensure that investee companies have sufficient capital to achieve their goals.

BIC is pleased to announce the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each of five key venture capital firms investing in the Canadian bioeconomy and cleantech space. It is the intention of these companies to work with BIC to seek out potential co-investment opportunities. Should an opportunity arise, these parties agree to exchange information as required to assess the potential of an investment. However, each party remains free to make its own investment decision.

The five organizations that have executed these agreements with BIC are:

  • Sofinnova Partners, Paris, France

  • GreenSky Capital, Toronto, ON

  • ArcTern Ventures, Toronto, ON

  • Fraser Mackenzie Merchant Capital, Toronto, ON

  • Cycle Capital Management - Montreal, QC - Toronto, ON - Qingdao, China - New York and Seattle, United States

Sandy Marshall, Executive Director of BIC said, “We are extremely pleased to have such significant organizations in the bioeconomy and cleantech investment space indicate their willingness to partner with BIC to seek investment opportunities. This enhances BIC’s ability to support early stage companies with clean, green and sustainable technologies for the benefit of Ontario and Canada.”


BIC supports the development of the next generation of highly qualified persons who will lead Canadian innovation. BIC works with industry to understand their needs and endeavor to match youth to jobs. Funding of these experiential learning opportunities, assisting in recruitment and working with educational institutions to adapt curriculum to industry needs is paramount to advancing Canada’s innovation agenda.

BIC continues to create highly qualified persons to work in the biotechnology industry as we strive to be a key organization in supporting the development of the Sarnia-Lambton cluster.

BIC hired two Junior Project Engineers-in-training, on the left-David Carey and on the right- Zachary Gray. In this position, they will be working exclusively on client projects within BIC’s Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovation (COMM SCI).


Steve was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario. He graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce, Honours Degree in Accounting and Corporate Finance. Prior to joining BIC, Steve worked with a Professional Accounting firm where he enjoyed working closely with the agriculture industry and other local business owners while completing his CPA designation.

“I am thrilled to be BIC’s Controller. I have followed BIC closely as they continue to be a respected organization in getting SME’s in the bioeconomy industry started up and growing. I am really excited to be a part of it,” said Steve.


Wayne Maddever holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science Engineering from the University of Toronto. Since 1985 he has held senior executive management positions with technically based businesses in start-up, turnaround or acquisition situations where his skills at change management have brought considerable success in the commercialization of new technologies. His experience in both private and public companies, both domestically and internationally, spans a broad variety of industries, including bio- and advanced materials, precision manufacturing, recycling, waste to energy and medical devices.

"I am delighted to be asked to be a part of the Bioindustrial Innovation Canada team as their Portfolio Manager and Senior Advisor. BIC plays a leading role in the commercialization of green, clean and sustainable technologies in the critically important bioeconomy sector. This sector and the technologies that are being developed by our partners will bring significant benefits to southern Ontario and Canada," said Wayne.


The following internships were completed during 2017.


Darian Budarick is currently a MSc candidate at the University of Guelph in the new Master of Biotechnology program. This program is focused on giving students both science and business training to develop an expertise on the commercialization of biotechnology innovations. Darian previously completed her BSc (2016) in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Guelph. Her academic training was largely focused on plant genetics and plant breeding. This training was further supported through multiple canola breeding internships in Saskatchewan.

“BIC provided me with an interesting Master’s project which challenged me to continually learn about the bioeconomy. Now as a full-time employee, I have the unique opportunity to not only work within BIC but also work closely with one of their COMM SCI investment companies, Comet Biorefining,” said Darian.


After several years of experience in the oil and gas industry, Arash decided to join the bio-industry and dedicate his time and knowledge on developing clean and sustainable technologies in the bio sector. Arash has B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. in chemical engineering, graduated from University of Montreal-Polytechnic engineering school in Quebec in 2015, and his primary career goal was to work as a process engineer in the bio-sector. He has been very interested to combine his research and development skills with former industrial expertise to push forward the implementation of innovative technologies at commercial scale.

“One day I would like to see more green and sustainable facilities established and integrated in the Sarnia-Lambton community. I was very pleased to work with the BIC team on bio-projects. I have no doubt that efforts toward commercialization of bio-based innovations in Sarnia will pay off,” said Arash.


Emmanuel Ogunsona was a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph in Biological Engineering under the leadership of Dr. Amar Mohanty. He received his BSc (2006) and MSc (2007) both from the University of North Texas, Denton in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, respectively. He has worked as a Technical Support/Laboratory Manager at the African University of Science and Technology, Abuja with vast experience in research and development of bio-based materials. In conjunction with other researchers, he has developed and patented biomaterial with potential for applications in the automotive industry.

“The internship at BIC has been very beneficial. It has given me a valuable introduction to the operations and protocols that must be put in place before research and development can take place. Now, I have a much better understanding of the correct policies that an industrial biotechnology company must have to be successful,” said Emmanuel.


BIC currently has signed MOU’s with:

BIC currently has signed MOU’s with Biobased Delta in the Netherlands; VITO in Belgium and Life Sciences Queensland, Australia. All partners are focused on creating a strong program on cluster development in their region and country, but with the knowledge that creating a stronger relationship between our organizations and countries with respect to building the bio economy at home and internationally is a key ingredient.

The success of these MOU’s is just beginning to take shape and show some of the aspects of the positive things that can happen. The main outcomes to date have been visits and missions to each other’s countries, and joint speaking engagements on panels at international conferences. Also, university linkages are beginning to show some success as researchers become connected through activities. With the Netherlands, we are building a program around Living Labs Canada and Netherlands Universities to foster research programs and student exchanges in the bioeconomy and circular economy.

Hopefully 2018 will be a year of growth in the area of research and student exchange between our partners. With VITO, we have been able to have a Western University MSc. graduate, be accepted to do his PhD with VITO and University Antwerp in January, 2018. These are all small steps, but with an industry in its infancy they are steps forward.

Some other direct activities during 2017 with our partners were:

  1. A visit to Bergen Op Zoom, the centre for Biobased Delta, and a key note speaker at their technology day. This was followed by meetings with BBD, the Mayor of Bergen Op Zoom and staff, and meetings with some industry partners of BBD and the region.

  2. A Sarnia visit from Queensland government to meet BIC and to see our cluster and how it functions, including a meeting with Mayor Mike Bradley.

  3. A panel of speakers organized by BIC at the World Congress on international partnerships, with speakers from VITO, Bio Based Delta, Life Sciences Queensland and CLIB 2021 (Germany) and moderated by Murray McLaughlin with BIC.

  4. An Invitation to Queensland by LSQ to participate on a panel in a series of regional meetings to discuss clusters and what makes a cluster. These panel and roundtable meetings were in towns of Rock Hampton, Gladstone, McKay, and Townsville.

  5. A speaker at the TABBS (the Australasia Bioenergy and Bioproducts Symposium) in Brisbane, an annual symposium managed by LSQ following the regional meetings.

The main benefit from the MOU’s are that they increase awareness of all of the clusters and the opportunities to create new business partnerships. The bioeconomy is a global initiative and will continue to grow globally. For Sarnia, Ontario and Canada to benefit from this growth industry in the long term we need to reach out and create global partnerships. We are gaining global recognition of the Sarnia-Lambton Cluster, partly due to our international outreach with our MOU partners and the emerging partnerships.


Sandy Marshall, Executive Director was listed 89th in the ‘Top 100 People in the Bioeconomy of 2017published by BioFuelsDigest. The candidates were nominated and voted by the readers of The Digest and the publication’s editorial board.