Atlantic BIOCON Wrap-Up 2019

Andrew Byrne June 5, 2019

What is a bioeconomy? A bioeconomy is when we find sustainable ways to use renewable resources. Also known as part of a circular economy, growing the bioeconomy would be beneficial to all levels of society. People benefit from it because, in certain circumstances, it helps preserve the environment and fight the effects of climate change. Companies benefit because it helps either lower operating costs or increases profits when we find new, more efficient processes of traditional industries and use a material that was once thought useless. In similar ways, it also helps government and regulators as well because it keeps more money in the host country and helps us rely less on others for our economic gains.

To this end, BioNB in partnership with Saint Mary’s University/Sobey School of Business, CCNB-INNOV, Nova Scotia Innovation Hub, and Springboard Atlantic held the 8th “Atlantic BIOCON: Growing the Bioeconomy in Atlantic Canada”. Thanks to everyone for helping, everyone who came and participated, and to our other sponsors, Innovacorp, BioApplied, Port Hawkesbury Paper, and Michelin.

Three days of technology tours, speeches, networking, and a student competition brought together scientists, people from industry, government representatives, and students showcasing their most recent research for a cash prize of $300 (winner, Sonia Kumar of Dalhousie University).

As the conference drew to a close, one thing became evident; every industry and every country can benefit from the implementation of a healthy bioeconomy strategy. The presentations were split into 7 different sections in order to maximize the scope and breadth of the conference coverage. I don’t know about you but I was introduced to so many people from all over the world who were all there to exchange ideas and hopefully create partnerships that would eventually benefit everyone.

We learned of the opportunities arising from the newly legalised cannabis industry and met with some of the new players. As this is a new industry, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome but ones that can be also viewed as opportunities. Researchers, engineers, labourers, construction, business development, farmers, and marketing are all needed moving forward.

We learned that while carbon is generally a taboo term when discussing such things as climate change, these days, it is also becoming an opportunity to some such as Michelin, Origin Materials and Port Hawkesbury Paper. The companies have been developing eco-parks and technology that takes materials such as plastic and turns them into a less harmful version of themselves by using new processes that have been developed again through extensive research.

We even had international guests such as John Kettle from the institution Luke in Finland who showed us just how far Finland has come in not just developing their bioeconomy but encouraging its growth. He also had the courage to say what was on the minds of many by calling for immediate action by all global players and industry in what he and several after called a climate crisis, not just climate change.

We learned about the new Ocean Supercluster in Atlantic Canada dedicated to creating a hub for the development of businesses and tech in our oceans and the struggles facing municipalities in terms of municipal waste; both of which need your help and your ideas so make sure to reach out if you think you have any innovative ideas to contribute.

From adoption of new technologies in the storage and transport of lobster from Eskasoni First Nation in order to help extend the life and quality of the meat, to the app developed by FPInnovations to help businesses asses feedstock quality and availability by telling you things such as the cost of transporting feedstocks to how to maximize quality, BIOCON 2019 had something for everyone.

We even learned about the investment side of these new companies trying to add some benefit to the world and the bioeconomy. Our investment panel discussed issues not just facing businesses looking for investment but helped those businesses understand what VCs are looking for.

  1. The Opportunities of Carbon:
  • Bruce Anderson, Michelin Canada “Michelin: A Sustainable Mobility Company”
  • Alex Ward, Origin Materials “Mass Consumption Judo: Taking sustainable materials from less bad to a force for good”
  • Allan Eddy, Port Hawkesbury Paper “Port Hawkesbury Paper’s Evolving Eco-Industrial Park”
  1. Panel Session: Economic Opportunities in Clean Growth and Regional Technology Development:
  • Jason Hollett, Province of Nova Scotia “Nova Scotia’s Cap and Trade Program”
  • Doug Hooper, Advanced Biofuels Canada “Clean Fuel Opportunities in Canada”
  • Sean Fraser, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change 
  • Alejandro Adem, MITACS Inc. 
  1. Panel Session: Investing in Bioeconomy Companies:
  • Paul Richards, Innovacorp
  • Michael Dennis, Innovacorp
  • Shelley King, NPC 
  • Pascal-Hugo Plourde, SDTC
  • Fraser Gray, Sustane
  1. Company and Applied Research Showcase:
  • John Kettle, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) “Bioeconomy in Finland: Experiences of the Forestry and Marine Sectors”
  • Kevin Vessey, Saint Mary’s University “Purpose-grown Biomass Crops: Efficient Production, Yield Modelling and real-world Verification in Nova Scotia”
  • Rod Badcock, NS Innovation Hub “Nova Scotia Innovation Hub’s Foresight Challenge”
  1. Atlantic Showcase:
  • Roberto Armenta, Mara Renewables “Fish-free Fish Oil – From the Bay of Fundy to the World”
  • Stefanie Colombo, Dalhousie University “Use of Lignin Products as a Functional Ingredient in Atlantic Salmon Feed to Improve Fish Growth and Pellet Quality”
  1. Hot Topics in Atlantic Canada:
  • Kendra MacDonald, Canada’s Oceans Supercluster “Leveraging Canada’s Biggest Asset”
  • Myrna Gillis, Aqualitas “Cannabis 2.0: Valued Added Product Development and Research”
  • John Baker, CBD Baker Inc. and 1812 Hemp “Hemp – A Multipurpose Crop for Biorefining”
  1. Innovative Feedstocks:
  • Sylvain Volpe, FPInnovations “Feedstock Availability and Quality”
  • Ken LeBlanc, Cape Breton Regional Municipality “The Urban Opportunity: Bio-resources Produced by Municipal Services”
  • Steve Parsons, Eskasoni First Nation and Live Stor “Live Stor Sydney”


Countries all over the world are beginning to understand just how important a bioeconomy strategy is and we only hope that this conference provided some insight and value to all those involved. If you see anyone here that you think you may be able to help or who can help you, make sure to contact BioNB and we will help connect you. Even if you don’t, if you have an idea, some insight, or just some questions about the biosciences and bioeconomy, we are here to help.

Contact our new Marketing and Communications Director, Andrew Byrne and

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