Aligning Bio-Innovations with Market Growth
Vibrant interest from consumers, industry and government is driving concerted demand for increased bio-based products on the market. The global foci stewarding innovation and change are research institutions that push thresholds of human knowledge to expand, and we are at the helm of those efforts at UBC.
Growth in Canada’s bioeconomy should be driven by breakthroughs in genetics, biochemical catalysis, materials science, engineering and design, plus a rapidly growing consumer demand for sustainable alternatives to existing products, and by increasingly ambitious policy goals to shift to a low-carbon economy. An innovation hub for a green economy, UBC’s BioProducts Institute (BPI) is a cluster of four of UBC’s faculties — Applied Science, Forestry, Science and Land and Food Systems.
We’re using natural nano-structural elements within biomass that have properties exceeding those of other advanced materials to create high value, high performance renewable products that can enable a circular bioeconomy.
James Olson, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science, UBC
What does BPI do?
BPI is leading the way in maximizing the British Columbian advantage to lead the bio-revolution: extracting high-value products from agricultural and forest biomass—an abundant material sourced primarily from residual and waste products from agro-based and forest industries—to create alternative and sustainable materials, energy, and chemicals.
Scientific areas of exploration include:
- Small molecules and biochemicals: Generation of custom-tailored biopolymers and small molecules
- Bio-conversion: Sugar-containing polymers, celluloses and hemicelluloses, to a range of products
- Bio-based materials: Lignin based carbon fibres, nanocellulose or hemicelluloses extractives for composites
- Catalysts: Discovery of novel classes of (bio)catalysts
- Thermochemicals: Advanced technologies for thermochemical conversion of biomass
- Genomics: Systematically manipulating key genes in lignification and cellulose deposition, and examining the consequences for secondary cell wall biosynthesis
- Techno-modelling, market analysis, policy and regulation.
BPI’s recent successes
- President’s Excellence Chair (PEC) in forest bioproducts with UBC funding of $3 to 5 million. The appointment will be announced soon.
- Two successful Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) grants in 2017 with contributions from UBC
- BiMat: Synthetic biology enabled materials science for high performance biocomposites (total of $11.2 million)
- BRIC: Biorefining Research and Innovation Centre (total of $4.4 million)
- Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Bioproducts with approved funding of $10 million over 7 years of a larger $28 million program in genomics, synthetic biology, catalysis, and material science. The selection process is underway.
The British Columbia Pulp and Paper Bio-Products Alliance is a transformative made-in-BC solutions and technologies partnership between the major BC Pulp and Paper companies, FPInnovations and UBC. The Alliance, with an initial funding of $4 million, including the financial support from GenomeBC and Mitacs, will focus on four areas for forest industry innovation—renewable natural gas (RNG), bio-based building materials, bioproducts from lignin and value-added products from mill wastes.
Innovations stem from applied research towards creating new commercial, investments and jobs across three broad bioeconomy sector opportunities.
Next generation buildings
- Lower embodied energy
- Decrease construction costs
- Minimize maintenance costs
- Optimize lifecycle performance
- Maximize carbon storage
- Minimize environmental footprints
Tomorrow's transport systems
- Advanced bio-composites
- Renewable (bio)energy concepts
- Alternatives to petrochemicals
Domestic and export markets
- Lower carbon footprint of goods
- Optimize supply chain infrastructure
Sustainable consumer products
- Personal care
- Medical applications
- Smart packaging
- Bioactives from nature
- Meet social license metrics
- Buils a circular economy