Government of Canada announces over $3.5 million in support for University of British Columbia – BioProducts Institute

Renovated UBC BioProducts Institute lab

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Funding to the Institute will help develop bioproducts to replace single use plastics

August 12, 2021 – Surrey, British Columbia – Pacific Economic Development Canada

The pulp and paper sector is a key component of the British Columbia forestry industry which has made important contributions to the economy of the province. However, global challenges, such as reduced demand, lower prices, and supply shortages have significantly affected the sector in recent years. That is why the Government of Canada is taking action to protect B.C. jobs and stimulate growth in rural communities by supporting the transformation of the pulp and paper industry to a diversified producer of bioproducts that will also reduce the province’s carbon footprint.

Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Pacific Economic Development Canada, announced funding of over $3.5 million in federal support for the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) BioProducts Institute.

This funding will support the development, scale-up, and production of sustainable bioproducts, such as filters, adhesives, lightweight materials, and personal protective equipment, by helping de-risk technologies and foster the commercialization of bioproducts and solutions. Using waste and residue from B.C. forests, this approach will create alternatives to plastic-based, single use products.

The pulp and paper sector has faced global competitive challenges in recent years, and pulp and paper mills in B.C. must continue to innovate to stay competitive. UBC’s BioProducts Institute is ranked in the top three globally in its field. It will help mills in the province become bioproduct or biorefinery mills, creating sustainable materials for use in the medical field, personal care, filtration, crop protection, and other industries.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting sustainable growth by investing in B.C. businesses and by reducing our environmental footprint. This project aligns with the federal government’s priorities of clean technology development, advance manufacturing, and natural resources value-added processing while contributing to the advancement of the circular and renewable economy and the growth of B.C.’s bio-innovation ecosystem.

Quotes

“Forestry is a key contributor to Canada’s economy. This investment is a reflection of our government’s plan to revitalize our economy and protect Canadian businesses. By supporting collaboration and innovation that meets the needs of Canadians, we will build an even stronger economic future.”

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Pacific Economic Development Canada 

“Scaling up development of high-value, bio-based materials from cellulose and lignin will generate economic and social benefits for B.C. and increase the long-term competitiveness of its forest sector. UBC’s BioProducts Institute, together with the BioAlliance and industry partners, is working on catalyzing the diversification of the forest industry into sustainable markets. We are grateful to Pacific Economic Development Canada for this new funding, which supports our efforts to help grow B.C.’s bio-economy, in alignment with the province's goals to accelerate technological and economic growth and improve environmental sustainability.”

Professor Orlando Rojas, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Forest Bioproducts and Scientific Director, UBC BioProducts Institute

“Innovative research at the BioProducts Institute and other areas at UBC is driving the growth of sustainable technologies and products that can mitigate climate change impacts and address other social and economic challenges. This investment from the federal government will leverage UBC’s research strength to accelerate the creation of sustainable bioproducts and support the forest industry and clean technology sector right here in B.C., and across Canada.”

Professor Santa Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of British Columbia

Quick facts

  • In 2019, the B.C. forestry industry supported 7,000 businesses and employed more than 50,000 people.

  • The pulp and paper sector accounts for 20 per cent of GDP through its 16 pulp and paper mills across B.C.

  • The pulp and paper sector processes close to 50 per cent of the total volume of timber harvested each year in the province, generating value to lower quality fibre that cannot be manufactured into solid wood commercial products.

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Source: Pacific Economic Development Canada