A Place to Grow
In addition to fostering commercialization relationships between researchers and industry, Springboard fulfils a unique role in fostering synergetic university-college collaborations. An excellent example of this is the new pilot-scale industrial fermentation research centre spearheaded by Springboard member, Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) at its Edmundston campus.
As the only facility of its kind east of Montreal, the centre will focus on applied research, technology transfer, commercialization and training within the industrial biotechnology sector. The centre will also implement a bio-refinery capable of producing large-scale fermentation tests, something not previously accessible to academic and SME researchers here in Atlantic Canada.
“Until now, the only facilities with similar capacities were in central Canada or the US, which often made it cost and time prohibitive for Atlantic Canadian researchers to scale-up their bio-technologies,” says Rick Saulnier, Industry Liaison Officer for CCNB. “The opening of the Bio-refinery and Technology Scale-up Centre (BTSC) will remove significant obstacles for researchers in their efforts towards technology development and commercialization.”
The evolution of BTSC began with the tireless championing by Kevin Shiell, a bio-fermentation specialist and CCNB instructor who not only believed in the centre’s viability but whose efforts laid a solid foundation for its development. Through a rich collaboration with UNB that involved a mentorship between the Office of Research Services’ Chris Mathis and Saulnier, as well as support from many of UNB’s biotech researchers, CCNB was able to submit a proposal to NSERC’s College and Community Innovation Program (CCI) that would lead to Shiell’s vision of BTSC becoming a reality.
“The combination of training, networking and expertise I accessed through my Springboard colleagues at UNB as well as Saint Mary’s University made a significant impact to our NSERC-CCI proposal process,” says Saulnier. “Through Springboard funding we were able to hire expert consultants in market research, business, finance and technology to help us guarantee the excellence of the proposal.”
On October 12th, 2010, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, and Dr. Suzanne Fortier, President of NSERC, awarded CCNB with a CCI for $2.3 million to hire the research staff for the BTSC, the first time such an award has been made to a community college in Atlantic Canada.
“The opening of the BTSC at CCNB is going to be a turning point for research and commercialization not only in New Brunswick but across the region,” says Shiell, who will be the centre’s scientific director. “We have already secured several contracts that are ready to move forward and we’re extremely confident about the future sustainability of the centre.”