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Igniting Innovation


BCBusiness + Innovate BC

Credit: InnovateBC

Innovate BC has awarded $5.3 million to 25 BC research projects through Ignite since the program launched in 2016.

Natural resources and applied science research program awards $448,000 to clean and biotech projects

Innovate BC, the crown agency supporting the province’s thriving innovation sector, has awarded two B.C.-based research projects with a total of $448,000 through its Ignite Program.

Ignite awards up to $300,000 to research projects that address an industry problem in the natural resource or applied sciences. Most compelling, the program funds projects that address some of the world’s most pressing challenges by turning innovative ideas into real life solutions.

“In B.C., we’re extremely fortunate to have world-class researchers and industry leading companies working hand-in-hand to develop new technologies that have a positive impact on our economy, environment, and overall standard of living,” says Raghwa Gopal, President and CEO of Innovate BC.

The first project is a collaboration between Dr. James Olson of UBC, industry partner Polymer Research Technologies (PRT), and the BC Research Institute. They’re developing a novel solution to chemically recycle polyurethane foam waste from the automotive, transportation, furniture, construction, insulation and appliance industries, creating a reusable, recyclable, economical, and environmentally friendly raw material alternative to petroleum-based virgin polyol.

Kambiz Taheri, Founder and CTO of Polymer Research Technologies, says the $300,000 award will help the company push into a more active phase of development. “The funding will allow us to perform all of the necessary and crucial R&D work at UBC and validate the sustainability and scalability of our innovative technology by our key customers,” Taheri says.

Recipients of the second award, Dr. Konrad Walus of UBC and industry partner Aspect Biosystems, are using $148,000 to develop a turn-key manufacturing platform that will allow upscaled production of 3D-printed tissue used to radically advance the future of drug development, regenerative medicine, and cellular therapies. This work’s success will mean animals are no longer needed to discover new therapeutics, doctors can understand how a patient will react to a drug before prescribing it, and lifesaving transplant organs are created, not harvested.

“Investing in deep technology for medical applications does not only improve health outcomes, but drives our economy,” says Tamer Mohamed, Aspect Biosystems’ CEO. “This support from Innovate BC is a testament to the provincial government’s belief in innovation and its power to create impact and value.”

The Innovate BC Ignite Program has supported the hiring, training and retention of more than 65 highly qualified personnel in the first two years of the program. Furthermore, several projects have reported that receiving the award has elevated the credibility of their research and helped attract additional investment.

The program has produced several success stories and supported some of the province’s top tech companies. Jetti Resources, Axine Water Technologies and Terramera are notable past winners who have gone on to secure additional funding, awards and recognition after receiving their Ignite Award.

Overall, Innovate BC has awarded $5.3 million to 25 BC research projects through Ignite since the program launched in 2016. Successful projects are selected based on their promising commercial and technical viability as well as their ability to be market ready within three years. For more information about the program and past winners, visit the Ignite Program page.

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with Innovate BC