Large research infrastructures, a chemical and paper industry supporting a sector that is considered strategic, clusters that are able to build extended value chains, universities at the level of excellence and a federal government and provinces with a vision and an effective action plan. These are shortly all the strengths of the bioeconomy in Canada, as I saw them last week.
The North American country really is a leader in this metasector, with the bio-based industries able to play a leading role. A best practice is that of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, the Sarnia cluster that stands in one of the most industrialized areas of the country. Here, the chemical industry, along with a forward-looking land government, has been firmly committed to focusing on the use of biological resources as a raw material for sustainable development. Here are some of the most interesting companies in the global bioeconomy, such as Comet Biorefining, Renix and Origin Materials. The same BioAmber, which is not going through a good moment due to a heavy liquidity crisis.
Ontario is actually leading the way as a petroleum community which has seen the growth and decline of the local industry but has also seen the need to build a green and sustainable industry to maintain the sector, creating a cluster with a focus on C02 reductions, solar farms (largest in Canada), windmills, greenhouses which uses C02 to increase production, ethanol production (largest Canadian facility), biobased chemistry companies, Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park with pilot facilities for startup companies that help move toward GHG reduction. Lambton College in Sarnia has established specific courses for training students in the bioeconomy as the college has identified the bioeconomy as a new growth area for Canadian industries. Sarnia is showing the way and will be a model for the future.
Canada is a leader country. Certainly it is unique for the abundance of raw materials, but what really matters is the political and industrial capacity to look to the future. Despite the absence of a federal bioeconomy strategy, Canada is paving the way for a post-oil society.