All posts by Andrew Byrne

The Cannabis NB model works for entrepreneurs

Andrew Byrne March 29, 2021

Part one of a two part series on NB’s cannabis value chain. In Part 2 we will explore the research and innovation opportunities.



It’s great news that the Cannabis NB retail model for the sale of recreational cannabis will be continued. We applaud the Government of New Brunswick and the leadership of NB Liquor for reaching the decision on March 19, 2021 to discontinue the search for a single private operator.


For 25 years, BioNB has been promoting the use of New Brunswick’s natural resources as economic drivers and we can see how the opportunities in the legal cannabis industry leverage this province’s strengths. We would like to share some key points on why we think the Cannabis NB retail model benefits the economy.


Of the 15 recreational cannabis production licenses issued in New Brunswick, 11 license holders are considered micro scale. The sale of Cannabis NB would have created a private retail monopoly where the micro cannabis producers would lose their market share and growth potential to larger multinational interests. In the proposed private model, there was little incentive for a province-wide retailer to partner with multiple craft cannabis producers. This would have created a challenging situation for these businesses.


Craft cannabis can be thought of in the same way as microbrew beer, specialty coffee, premium wines and organic food. Consumers gravitate to these types of products because of the sustainable practices, local employment and premium quality associated with them.


As cannabis becomes more mainstream, consumers will also seek differentials related to premium cannabis products with unique qualities and regional provenance. With the swift expansion of the cannabis industry underway, craft cannabis is poised to be an industry disruptor as it moves into the limelight.


Without local production, it is unlikely that innovative opportunities for cannabis in animal feed, natural health products and advanced materials would ever fully develop.  Such new and improved products can expand markets and grow the economy, but first our craft cannabis industry must develop the retail market.


Funding opportunities from the Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund ( were suspended while the Cannabis NB RFP was active. We offer that craft producers partnering with local academic institutions would be an incredible vehicle for bringing this fund back into use.

















Resource-based industries have been and remain the foundation of the economy in Atlantic Canada, and it is imperative that we continue to focus on our core competencies to realize the great opportunity of this new sector. We have all the ingredients, talent, and capacity to flourish in the new economy. However, to continue to prosper and attract capital, we must create an innovative ecosystem that leverages and improves our economic and environmental competitiveness utilizing our assets to their fullest potential.

If you want to learn more about the cannabis opportunity in New Brunswick or BioNB, contact our Marketing & Communications Director, Andrew Byrne, at


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Funding, Funding and Funding, Oh My!

Andrew Byrne March 24, 2021













On March 3rd, our Executive Director, Meaghan Seagrave, had the pleasure of speaking at the Bounce Health Innovation event, “Money! Money! Money! – Financial Support for Medtech Entrepreneurs”.

While we heard from many organizations such as Memorial University, and CNA, we will be focusing on the content that both New Brunswick bioscience and medtech organizations could potentially avail of.

The event kicked off with a very familiar face to BioNB in the form of MITACS which gave a great overview of a couple of their funding programs. Below, you can view the typical MITACS funding cycle:














Next up was the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and their WIL Digital program. Similar to the BioTalent Student Work Placement Program that BioNB is a partner for, this program offers to cover up to $7,500 of an eligible student’s wage until April 30th and up to $7,000 beyond that date. We’ve also added a shot of the basic eligibility requirements.













One of the last presentations of the event was Meaghan’s and it showcases just how complex, but vibrant the funding opportunities are here in New Brunswick. From research and development partners (Research & Productivity Council) and incubators (Planet Hatch), to Federal Government (NRC-IRAP) and ancillary support organizations (Venn Innovation), her presentation packed a lot into 10 minutes. Check out all the shots below for a quick overview.

























































This is a lot to digest in such a short amount of time. If your company is having difficulty navigating all the different types/sources of funding in New Brunswick, make sure to contact us so we can help!

The event capped off with a slightly more unique and targeted company showcasing their funding opportunities. Sandpiper Ventures is a VC organization which “provide a platform where women investors and founders can radically disrupt the venture capital environment.” You can find out more about their story here:

In just 2 short hours, the event screen showcased over 35 places where your bioscience/bioeconomy venture can go to look for funding and/or potential partners. We understand that this can be overwhelming at the best of times, so make sure to contact our Marketing & Comms Director, Andrew Byrne, at if you have any questions.

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Opportunities in New Brunswick’s Ocean Economy

Andrew Byrne March 5, 2021























On the 16th of February, BioNB, along with our partners, Huntsman Marine Science Centre, Valorēs, Ocean Supercluster (OSC) and Ocean Startup Project co-hosted the New Brunswick Ocean Strategy: Realizing our Opportunities in the Blue Economy event. With over 100 attendees, the conversations that took place between industry, academia and government attendees showcased just how important the ocean ecosystem is to New Brunswick.

Hosted by our very own Jennifer O’Donnell and Huntsman Marine Science Centre’s Jamey Smith, the event had leaders from  Cooke Inc., Homarus, Kognitiv Spark, InnovaSea, Corbo Engineering and the OSC speak about the challenges they face and thus the opportunities for innovation in ocean industry. It was a celebration of the already established New Brunswick ocean sector, held by New Brunswick organizations, for New Brunswick organizations.

An overarching message from the speakers: COLLABORATION. The need for collaboration at all levels of government, industry and stakeholders is key to the success of this industry if it is to be sustainable; a sentiment echoed by every speaker. As COO of Kognitiv Spark, Duncan McSporran mentioned, “We would not be where we are today without the value of partnerships.”

There were talks of success throughout and here are just a couple of numbers from the OSC and Cooke Aquaculture:











































We also heard from the New Brunswick institution, Homarus, who shared their lobster research and the new Centre Homarus which will be a state-of-the-art education and research facility in Shediac!























While this event ran a little on the long side, 3 hours, it needed to. As there were (and still are!) so many conversations to be had, we were dedicated to having enough time for both speaking and question periods. To this end, we also held 5 breakout sessions. Stay tuned for more information on our social media accounts for the outcomes from those sessions!






















New Brunswick’s new, innovative ocean economy is immense in its potential, and we are proud to be a partner in its development! If you have any questions about BioNB, New Brunswick’s ocean economy, or about any of the organizations who participated in this event, please reach out to BioNB’s Marketing & Comms Director, Andrew Byrne at

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Atlantic Canadian Bioeconomy Conference Evolves into a Stronger Regional Partnership

Andrew Byrne March 1, 2021




March 1st, 2021 – For 8 years, BioNB and several strategic partners have held Atlantic BIOCON, Atlantic Canada’s premier bioeconomy conference. Today, we are pleased to announce that we will maximize our efforts to advance the regional bioeconomy by partnering with Nova Scotia Innovation Hub, CCNB-INNOV and IGNITE Atlantic. Instead of a single in-person conference in the spring, this year the BIOCON partnership will host a number of focused interactive events that will promote collaboration and increase awareness of the sustainable innovation taking place within Atlantic Canada.

As we began planning our in-person BIOCON 2020 event, the four regional partners pivoted to a digital format so that we could ensure the bioeconomy remains top of mind as it is critical to help our region’s business community “Build Back Better”. BIOCON 2020 presented a Virtual Speaker Series held once a month from June to November with innovative leaders in several industries such as anessa biogas and Outcast Foods that contribute to the growth and awareness of the benefits of the bioeconomy as a unique window of opportunity.

BIOCON 2021 will kick off not with an in-person event, but with a student research poster competition where innovators will be able to present their creative research projects virtually to our panel of expert judges for the chance to win our grand prize. The session will be held on April 30th and will be organized into two tiers, Undergraduate/College and Graduate students. The winner in each tier will receive $500!

Student bioeconomy researchers will be able to apply to present a poster HERE. Initial Expressions of Interest are due March 15th, 2021 and finalists will be notified by March 19th.

If you have any questions about BIOCON, BioNB and our partners, or about the bioeconomy, don’t hesitate to reach out to BioNB’s Andrew Byrne and

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Healthcare organizations are now eligible to apply for student wage subsidies

Andrew Byrne January 27, 2021











BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program is now open to the healthcare sector. Canada’s healthcare industry has a growing need to produce job-ready healthcare workers. There are 1,500 open spots available in 2020-21. For more information, visit

Want to know the benefits of hiring students using this wage subsidy? View the PDF below!

BioTalent-Canada-SWPP-benefits-of-hiring-a-co-op-Bioscience_Health – 22JULY2020

If you want to know more, make sure you check out our info webinar co-sponsored by our good friends at BioNova and PEI BioAlliance here: SWPP Webinar

If you would like to apply, simply reach out to BioNB’s Marketing and Communications Director, Andrew Byrne at

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Bioenterprise and BioNB Announce Collaborative Partnership in Support of Innovation

Andrew Byrne January 18, 2021

Fredericton NB/Guelph ON, 19 January 2021 – Bioenterprise and BioNB are launching a new collaborative partnership to help both organizations support innovation and commercialization in the agriculture, agri-food and bioscience sectors.

The two organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will make Bioenterprise’s specialized ag and food expertise and national networks available to BioNB through Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, while opening up new opportunities for Bioenterprise in Atlantic Canada and in the industrial bioproducts and forestry industries that are core to BioNB’s activities.

The collaboration will also make available new opportunities for both organizations to access regional and national funding through joint proposals in support of innovative projects that require partnerships from applicants.

“This makes our people, networks and resources in food, agriculture, innovation and business development available to BioNB and the clients they support in Atlantic Canada, while giving us new expertise in bioeconomy and forestry,” says Bioenterprise CEO Dave Smardon. “By working together, we can all do more with the limited resources at hand to help small and medium-sized businesses in our sector grow and thrive.”

“We are excited to formalize our partnership with Bioenterprise and gain access to their well-established national network of agri-tech and food-based industries and support pathways,” adds Meaghan Seagrave, Executive Director of BioNB. “The complementary expertise that exists across our teams will allow both organizations to build capacity to better support bio-based businesses in their regions. We know how critical connections and access to expertise are in the innovation ecosystem, and we look forward to putting our new partnership to work in support of bio-based businesses.”






BioNB supports the development of New Brunswick’s bioeconomy and helps companies grow and commercialize their bioscience ideas. The organization offers a range of business support services from funding navigation and collateral design to business plan development, and pitch coaching. BioNB also fosters networking and raises awareness of current issues and emerging bioeconomy trends with companies, decision-makers, and the public. In collaboration with a vibrant ecosystem of companies, research institutions and partners, BioNB is dedicated to enabling a thriving bioeconomy in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada. Visit to learn more.






Bioenterprise is Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, bringing more than 15 years of industry experience and a national and international network of research institutions, academia, mentors and experts, government, and industry to help small and medium-sized businesses in the sector nationwide Connect, Innovate, and Grow. Through its sector-savvy service partner network, Bioenterprise offers a wide range of business expertise and support to its clients, and partnerships with other industries help open doors to new technologies and platforms to help the agri-tech and food sector innovate and grow. Visit to learn more.

For more information:

Meaghan Seagrave, BioNB, or 506-444-2444

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Healthcare organizations are now eligible to apply for student wage subsidies

Andrew Byrne January 12, 2021










BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program is now open to the healthcare sector. Canada’s healthcare industry has a growing need to produce job-ready healthcare workers. There are 1,500 open spots available in 2020-21. For more information, visit

Want to know the benefits of hiring students using this wage subsidy? View the PDF below!

BioTalent-Canada-SWPP-benefits-of-hiring-a-co-op-Bioscience_Health – 22JULY2020

If you want to know more, make sure you check out our info webinar co-sponsored by our good friends at BioNova and PEI BioAlliance here: SWPP Webinar

If you would like to apply, simply reach out to BioNB’s Marketing and Communications Director, Andrew Byrne at


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LuminUltra and the Value of Investing in Bioscience

Andrew Byrne December 1, 2020

As it continues to grow, Fredericton based company LuminUltra doesn’t just demonstrate that New Brunswick often punches well above its weight, it showcases the value of investing in the biosciences and the bioeconomy. Yesterday, they announced the acquisition of Source Molecular, “a leader in lab-based testing solutions for microbial source tracking of pathogens including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

The announcement on November 30th that the local company has just acquired the Miami based biotech company, is just the latest in a string of newsworthy announcements involving a New Brunswick bioscience champion.

Back in April, Prime Minister Trudeau announced their investment in LuminUltra to help support their scale-up, enabling them to supply 500,000 COVID-19 tests per week to the country’s health authorities. Since then, LuminUltra has announced continued growth, evidenced by their new product launches, filed patents and the explosion of their jobs board.

Their ability to respond to the Prime Minister’s call-to-action immediately and the subsequent federal investment is just another case study of the benefits attained when governments invest in the bioscience sectors. We look forward to following the growth of LuminUltra as they help in the fight against COVID-19 and all the other bioscience companies in New Brunswick as they help innovate and grow our bioeconomy. You can read the full LuminUltra release here.

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BioNB, and Then There Were 6

Andrew Byrne November 26, 2020








BioNB is pleased to announce that Meaghan Seagrave has returned to the helm of BioNB as Executive Director. During her secondment to 1812 Hemp, she grew a start up company in a heavily regulated nascent sector.

With the cannabis sector rationalizing and undergoing significant regulatory changes, 1812 Hemp will be paused as BioNB focuses on growing the sector’s ancillary opportunities.









BioNB would like to thank Jennifer O’Donnell for stepping into the role of Interim Executive Director in June 2019, where she successfully led a newly expanded team through a tumultuous time for the NB economy. Jenn will assume the role of Senior Project Officer for BioNB, retaining many of her project and partnership development responsibilities while supporting the Executive Director.

Stay up to date on all of BioNB’s activities by either signing up to our Newsletter, or following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Research and Reality in the Cannabis Industry (Pathways to Careers in Cannabis Research)

Andrew Byrne November 16, 2020

In the beginning of October, we had the pleasure of attending the “Pathways to Careers in Cannabis” webinar. A group comprised of both UNB and international students of all levels and disciplines were invited to join Danielle Connell, UNB’s Mitacs representative to learn about the opportunities available to students interested in studying cannabis. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about efforts here in New Brunswick to create internship and career paths and ways to access funding to conduct cannabis research at home (NB) and abroad (The Netherlands, or NL) while enrolled at UNB.

Speakers included Dr. Arno Hazekamp, Co-chair of the Legal Cannabis Coalition (LCC) in The Netherlands, Danielle Connell and Dr. Andrien Rackov, a leading research scientist at the Research and Productivity Council (RPC) here in Fredericton, NB.

Danielle has been a part of the many cohorts going back and forth to the Netherlands to create opportunities around horticulture and more recently and specifically, cannabis. She has been there for all the ups and downs of the industry and helping student researchers achieve their local and international research goals along the way.

Dr. Arno Hazekamp has been working in the cannabis industry since around 2009 when he began working with the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine. He would go on to work with the Netherlands’ only legal producer of cannabis, Bedrocan and finally created his own consultancy in 2016, which lead to him being a Co-Founder of the Legal Cannabis Coalition

Andrien Rackov has been working with RPC ever since his Mitacs internship during his time at UNB. RPC has been an instrumental part of the research and testing ecosystem for cannabis producers in Canada for the past decade and it currently analyzes roughly 40% of all cannabis tested in the country.

We were pleased with the very large turnout of students and industry participants interested in the cannabis industry (it needs them) and by the mention of the Legal Cannabis Coalition and New Brunswick’s connection to them; for more on that visit:

Danielle discussed several Mitacs internship programs, but the main focus was the Globalink program, which will be the vehicle to mobilize the first cohort of cannabis interns. Globalink is a purely academic program meant to build and strengthen academic connections between universities in New Brunswick and the Netherlands. The program is open to senior undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows of ANY DISCIPLINE. “We’re talking research in all disciplines in cannabis”.
















While the Mitacs portion was straight forward, Arno’s discussions were broader and at times, philosophical. He began by showcasing that traditional industries have a straightforward pipeline model, while cannabis does not.














Cannabis is so much more than just a flower. Arno’s message was to showcase the various opportunities available to students and researchers in the cannabis industry; and there were many. Discussing the importance of knowing what you want to do and where you want to go was a central theme. Cannabis may seem like an exciting opportunity for youth, and it is, but Arno wanted to temper expectations for the long-term satisfaction you can achieve by working in a lab or a grow room.

Cannabis is currently a catalyst for the much larger, socially relevant and multi-disciplinary conversations. BioNB and many of the attendees work in scientific fields, but that does not mean those in other fields such as the social sciences should not be a part of the conversation with us. “What is legal and what should be?” asks Arno rhetorically. Do we want “cannabis Walmarts” in an industry that has been historically driven by small scale cultivators? What is in cannabis vapor when smoked in a joint vs smoked in a vaporizer? These questions and hundreds more present the gargantuan opportunity for research in the cannabis industry.















Andrien then spoke about his path to RPC, which started as a Mitacs internship and now that RPC is expanding, Andrien mentioned, his team are looking to fill a newly created position at RPC for a postdoc specializing in molecular/microbiology. This will be the first of many Mitacs internships in the cannabis ecosystem.

There are many applied research projects at RPC, and it’s hard to succinctly discuss just how much they do to advance our understanding of cannabis, but we feel as though they did a great job of that in the photo below.












In a very direct, breath of fresh air kind of way, Arno ended the presentations by briefly discussing the myths and realities of cannabis and the industry in order to mitigate expectations. As we mentioned, cannabis may seem like an exciting opportunity for youth, and it is, but there are many things to take into consideration. By taking part in an internship BEFORE graduation, students are exposed to the ecosystem so that they will have an understanding of the gaps that need to be filled. The benefits are two-fold as you will have a full year of experience under your belt, better preparing you to enter the cannabis workforce.



























As with any industry, the roads are not all paved in gold. We have all seen in the news, the industry reacted too quickly, government moved too slowly in some jurisdictions and the misalignments and the unknowns have cost people a lot of money. Lessons have been learned though and are being applied to future decision making, especially the implementation of scientific rigour to ensure safety, consistency and actionable data.

This is just the beginning. The 1st cohort will begin their work in the NB-NL network as early as Spring 2021. The following cohorts will involve industry partnerships on both sides of the Atlantic.

If you would like to connect with anybody from this webinar, feel free to reach out to BioNB’s Marketing and Communications Director, Andrew Byrne, at

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