Two research projects receive combined $448,000 from Innovate BC

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Two BC research projects have received a combined total of $448,000 through the Ignite Program of Innovate BC, the agency that funds entrepreneurial support programs in the province.

Innovate BC said the projects were selected based on their commercial and technical viability and their ability to be market-ready within three years.

Both projects are being led by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), as well as industry partners within the province. The funding is aimed to help accelerate the commercialization of these projects’ innovations, so they can address significant environmental and healthcare challenges in BC and globally. Innovate BC has awarded $5.3 million in Ignite funding to 25 projects since the program’s launch in 2016.

“The Ignite Program addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges by turning innovative ideas into real-life solutions,” said Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC. “In BC, 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.”

A waste polyurethane chemical recycling project led by James Olson of UBC, Polymer Research Technologies, and the BC Research Institute, will receive $300,000 in funding from Innovate BC.

This project is seeking to develop technology to chemically recycle polyurethane foam waste from the transportation, furniture, automotive, construction, insulation, and appliance industries. The result of the project is intended to be a reusable, recyclable, economical, and eco-friendly raw material alternative to petroleum-based virgin polyol.

“Polymer Research is extremely excited to receive this prestigious award,” said
Kambiz Taheri, CEO of Polymer Research Technologies. “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.”

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The second project, focused on automated clinical tissue manufacturing, will receive $148,000 in funding. This project is led by Konrad Walus of UBC and Vancouver-based Aspect Biosystems. It will focus on a manufacturing platform that will allow tissue production to be scaled in what Innovate BC called “a robust and highly repeatable manner.”

The 3D printed tissues are intended to drive the future of drug development, regenerative medicine, and cellular therapies. They would eliminate the need for animals in the discovery of new therapeutics and would allow doctors to know how a patient will react to a drug before prescribing it. Clinical tissue manufacturing could allow transplant organs to be created, rather than harvested.

“Through this exciting collaboration, we look forward to accessing world-class research capabilities at the University of British Columbia,” said Tamer Mohamed, CEO of Aspect Biosystems. “Investing in deep technology for medical applications does not only improve health outcomes but drives our economy. This support from Innovate BC is a testament to the provincial government’s belief in innovation, and its power to create impact and value.”

Innovate BC said these projects were selected based on their commercial and technical viability as well as their ability to be market-ready within three years. All Ignite projects need to address an industry problem in the natural resource or applied sciences, have the potential to benefit to the province, and be undertaken by academic and industry members.

Image courtesy Unsplash

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast