Home PAPTAC 2018 PWC/BIOFOR Coverage Accelerating the development of the bioeconomy

Accelerating the development of the bioeconomy

There is a lot of research activities going on in many parts of the world to develop processes and products based on renewable biomass. The future potential is there, but the bioeconomy development needs to accelerate. This was the topic for this panel discussion. The panelists represented an array of people giving their different views on how to accelerate the development of the bioeconomy.

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Constant Awashish, Grand Chief Atikamekw Nations was the first speaker. He stressed that First Nations want to be a part of the growing bioeconomy. With new markets opening up in this area, it is very important that Canada is well positioned to capitalize on these new opportunities. First Nations have a role to play in bioenergy production, one example being the BELT project in La Tuque. It is a cooperative effort shared by FPInnovations and Nesté and aims to produce biofuels from wood residuals. The project will require 750 million CAD and create 450 jobs.

He continued to stress the fact that First Nations have a young workforce that needs education and development opportunities. Québec currently has the lowest number of aboriginal workers employed in the bioenergy sector when compared to the other provinces.

Next speaker was Paul Stuart, Professor at Polytechnique Montréal focussing on the need to work in clusters to achieve success. The bioeconomy is in competition with other raw materials - not only with existing, traditional products. That said, there are reasons to be optimistic. When implementing bioeconomy products, the existing industry's core businesses are also strengthened by delivering a product portfolio of bioproducts with added value as well as commodities.

Paul Stuart stressed that studies have shown that it is important to be quick to introduce added value products. It is also important to have access to funding for research, development and deployment activities. A cluster brings together all partners upstream and downstream the value chain and incorporates companies, public sector, universities and other important partners to a successful end-result.

CSA Group was represented in the panel by Melanie Pinatton and Priya Patel. CSA Group works with development of any kind of standards and is involved in certain standards related to lignin. Another example where CSR Group has helped to advance emerging product areas related to bioeconomy has been to promote Canada's position in the nanocellulose area.
One of the CSR Group panelists explained how lignin based standards are being developed. A task force of key stakeholders who can drive the agenda and implementation of Canadian standards for lignin development, production and commercialisation was established. It has been working for a year to develop a lignin roadmap as well as to identify the next steps needed.

Anis Benamor from CRIBIQ informed about their mission being to promote and finance bioeconomic development. At the moment 90 projects are being financed. There are different funding conditions but they are all requiring financing also from the project partners to be approved.

Mark DeAndrea, Domtar, represented the pulp and paper industry in the panel. His view was very optimistic as the competitive advantage of the industry is that it has access to a renewable feedstock and efficient supply chains.
He stressed that it is not sustainable to continue as the world is doing now and that we therefore have a great chance with biomaterials as they are renewable and biodegradable. Cooperation is necessary but the industry doesn't want to be just a raw material supplier to other industries but maybe also develop other product lines. The present interest received from chemical companies since a couple of years is, according to Mark DeAndrea, astonishing. His final words were: "In five years' time from now, we might be looking back and say that this was the tipping point."

The final speaker in the panel was Anne-Hélène Mathey, NRCan/CFS. Her messages focussed on the importance of markets and market attitudes. The benefits with bioproducts have to be known and wanted, otherwise the bioeconomy will not succeed. It is important that good research results are scaled-up and don't stay in reports or articles. New business means new ways of doing things, ranging from development to distribution of products. The success of the bioeconomy also depends on sales, marketing and communication, not just on technical matters, were her final words.



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