Fuel for the BioEconomy

Leaders from Canada’s emerging bio-economy sector gathered in Ottawa this month for the “Scaling Up: Delivering Canada’s low-carbon, bio-based economy through sustainable innovation” conference.  Jeff Passmore organized and hosted the event, bringing together a wide-range of Industry, Government, Academic, and International professionals.  BioApplied was pleased to be an active participant.  It was an opportunity to hear first-hand, the challenges, successes, and best practices in creating new industries across a spectrum of technologies and innovations in this field.

The program featured close to 50 presentations and panelists covering the full spectrum of interests in this arena, from financing, to social license, research, technology, supply-chain, feedstocks, policy, and more.

For those of us from BioApplied, it was encouraging to hear of a growing number of projects, some successful and others near success, that are operational or starting-up in jurisdictions across North America and Europe.  But all was not sugar-coated.  It was made clear that the challenges are many, and there is a need for perseverance and resilience.  Chief among the challenges are access to two vital resources; feedstock and capital. There is a host of effective and efficient production technologies already in play across the world, but without secure access to feedstock at an economical cost, the project will not attract the capital required to see the light of day.  Jordan Solomon of Ecostrat advised that bioeconomy projects often face risk associated with feedstock costs that are not grounded-in-reality.  This leads to a higher cost of capital that can often send a project’s financial projections into the red, underscoring the absolute need for access to a cheap, secure supply of feedstock.

Nova Scotia recently announced a project that is exploring innovative uses of forest products and new market opportunities in the bioeconomy.  The learning and network provided through this conference is timely, and will be helpful for the journey that lays ahead.

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