Canada ❤ bioneers: BioIndustrial Innovation Canada & Ontario bust another move in the bioeconomy with Comet Biorefining invest

May 30, 2018 |

In Canada, Ontario is investing up to $8 million in Comet Biorefining’s $79.8 million bio-based ingredient project through its Jobs and Prosperity Fund – Food and Beverage Growth Fund. The investment will help to establish the world’s first commercial-scale bio-based ingredient refinery in Ontario.

The news is just part of the picture for BioIndustrial Innovation Canada, which has been on an investment tear in recent months in part owing to picking up $12 million from FedDev Ontario for investment in regional diversification.

The basic idea — turn abundant, lower-value Canadian materials like cellulose into higher-value intermediates for the chemical, energy and nutrition industries. BIC’s acceleration activities have been putting Canada at the forefront of blobal bioeconomy development — and in particular, Southern Ontario, home to the Sarnia-Lambton industrial cluster.

It’s one of the most interesting project locations in the world, owing not only to the presence of a wide range of industrial partners and infrastructure in Sarnia via the cluster — but the adjecency to a whole lotta biobased feedstocks including souther Ontario’s substantial corn-growing region and Ontario’s massive forestry assets.

Feedstock, infrastructure, industrial partners and a willing government? It’s a potent combination that has been the catalyst for regional moves by GreenMantra, Benefuel and Origin Materials among others.

BIC invests in GreenMantra Technologies, Benefuel, Origin Materials

In recent weeks, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada made an investment in GreenMantra Technologies, a Brantford-based company that has made significant progress in up-cycling waste plastics, building a substantial ‘clean-tech’ enterprise by producing high value applications for their regional customers.

GMT has systematically increased its portfolio over time by continually adjusting their patented thermo-catalytic depolymerization process, allowing the company to effectively tailor applications for their customers using waste polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene.  GMT’s process has already been proven on a commercial scale, as the company has healthy sales volumes and positive customer reviews attesting to the superior quality of the various products, which GMT’s wax additives are utilized in.


In April, we reported that Bioindustrial Innovation Canada approved an investment as part of Benefuel’s current financing round. This investment will allow Benefuel to complete the engineering needed as a final step before the construction of its first, commercial demonstration plant in Sarnia. Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) has been working with Benefuel for a number of years, providing advice and services in anticipation of Benefuel’s decision to build its first, commercial-scale ENSEL plant in Sarnia, Ont.

The ENSEL process combines the two main reactions for biodiesel production, esterification and trans-esterification, into a single step. This allows Benefuel to use a broad range of low cost, low carbon feedstocks resulting, in a negative carbon intensity fuel.

And last June we reported that BIC made a COMM SCI investment in Origin Materials, Sacramento, California, through BIC’s Sustainable Chemistry Alliance investment fund, as part of an investment round that will see Origin construct its first commercial scale demonstration facility in Sarnia by late 2018.

Origin has developed unique and proprietary technology which allows it to transform multiple bio-based feedstocks into a broad range of chemical intermediates with large existing market demand. The company has successfully demonstrated the technology in its Sacramento pilot plant but chose Sarnia for its first commercial scale demonstration due to the unique nature of the biocluster which has been growing in the Sarnia region in recent years.

This cluster allows Origin to not only locally source feedstocks but have a ready market in the biochemical value chain. Origin is supported by partnerships with several global consumer products companies that will benefit from bio-based packaging created from the Company’s bio-intermediates.

The BioIndustrial Innovation Canada backstory

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) is a not-for-profit organization that began in 2008 as a business accelerator for sustainable chemistry. One of the early initiatives at BIC was to evaluate technologies to convert biomass (corn stover and wheat straw) into sugars for producing energy and value-added chemicals for commercial and biofuel industries. 

Back in 2016, BCI made a major move in establishing COMM SCI  — the Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry — to act as a hub for the commercialization of sustainable chemistry and bio-based innovation. BIC has a partnership with Cycle Capital Management and ArcTern Ventures to cooperate in seeking sustainable investment candidates.


The Ontario backstory

Since January 2013, Ontario has committed over $950 million in projects administered under JPF, leveraging over $12 billion in total investment. This is helping to create and retain approximately 55,000 jobs. 

The Comet backstory

Comet Biorefining produces sustainable, high-quality ingredients for the food and beverage, animal nutrition and biomaterials markets. The company’s proprietary ingredient technology allows for the conversion of agricultural residues, such as wheat straw, corn stover and wood products, into high purity ingredients. The new production plant in Sarnia for high- quality, sustainable ingredients that will help to directly create 82 new jobs and 158 new indirect jobs, including those in harvesting, construction, farming and manufacturing.

Reaction from the Stakeholders on the Comet investment

“Our government’s investment in Comet Biorefining will help position the company to compete globally. This will in turn help create and retain jobs, boost Sarnia’s local economy and support the competitiveness and further growth of Ontario’s agri-food sector. Through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, our government is helping foster growth in Ontario’s food and beverage processing and bioeconomy sector.”- Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs 

“With support from the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, Comet Biorefining boosts its competitiveness, further strengthens Ontario’s innovative bio-economy cluster and creates jobs. The project demonstrates how strategic partnerships are building opportunity while positioning the province for long-term growth.”- Steven Del Duca, Minister of Economic Development and Growth 

“This investment will provide us with important financial support needed to move forward with the construction of our commercial-scale facility in Sarnia. Once completed, this facility will produce sustainable ingredients for customers across North American and provide a win for local farmers, a win for the environment, and a win for the Canadian bioeconomy as a whole. We thank the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for their support of this project and leadership in making Canada a global front-runner for the manufacturing of bio- based products.” – Rich Troyer, CEO of Comet Biorefining 

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