May 2020
We’ve all heard a lot of this word in the last few weeks. Necessity being the mother of invention, we have all had to adapt and pivot in one way or another as we deal with the COVID-19 presence around us.

When this is over, we will all remember the collaboration, the ingenuity and the adaptation we adopted to move forward.

Hopefully it will open doors and windows we never knew were there before. In either case we wanted to bring you something a little fresher, to help inspire you in this spring newsletter issue. If you can Dream it, Believe it, Build it and Be it.

BioAlberta Team
Member Exclusive-Free Upgrade
BioTechGate Digital Partnering May 18-20
As the voice and champion for Alberta’s life sciences sector, BioAlberta is excited to announce a unique opportunity for BioAlberta members to participate in the upcoming Biotechgate Digital Partnering event,  May 18-20 to continue your business development efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. We have partnered with Biotechgate and over 20 Biotech Associations and Economic development agencies to support life science companies by bringing this virtual event to life.

This is an opportunity for you to engage and connect with potential investors and partners from around the globe using Biotechgate’s HelloPartnering matchmaking software. Any company can register for the event free of charge, and we are excited to announce that BioAlberta members are eligible for a free upgrade to “Premier Partnering” which includes unrestricted meetings as well as access to partnering for 6 months. More information can be found at partnering.biotechgate.com

Biotechgate Digital Partnering
When: 18th to 20th May (Monday to Wednesday)
Place: virtual, across all time zones (6am to midnight, London time)
Theme: Business Development for Life Sciences
Participants: global, Biotechgate partner members/subscribers/companies listed in Biotechgate including BioAlberta members

All biotechnology companies are eligible to register please visit partnering.biotechgate.com/register/index/BDP0520 .

BioAlberta members should contact Joshua Lee, Manager, Memberships, at Joshua@bioalberta.com to get the promotion code for the Premium upgrade.
BIO International is now BIO Digital
The BIO International Convention is transitioning to a virtual event format,  BIO Digital. 

This virtual gathering of the global biotech industry will take place June 8-12 and deliver a critical business development, educational and networking experience for all attendees.

BIOTECanada is pleased to offer our members an opportunity to save $250 USD off the cost of registration. Be sure to contact us first to  secure your discount with BIOTECanada .

BIO Digital offers:
  • Five days of BIO One-on-One Partnering™ with new enhanced features including an expanded 24-hour meeting scheduling capability and a global time zone function for business development networking from your private work space.
  • 30+ online, expert-level education sessions focused on the most pressing industry topics including COVID-19, digital health, business development, oncology, gene editing, and the latest therapeutic advancements in biotech. Sessions will run across four days, mixing live and on-demand content enabling Q&A interaction. Programming details will be announced in May.
  • On-Demand Company Presentations that showcase companies’ pipelines and R&D activities with extended availability thru mid-July. 

BIO One-on-One Partnering now has new features that allow you to schedule virtual meetings using your preferred method—whether that is a teleconference system, video meeting service, or another medium—to maximize your business development and licensing potential. The system allows you to:
  • Self-schedule meetings during five (5) days of partnering from June 8-12, 2020
  • 24-hour meeting timeslots for maximum flexibility across time zones
  • View your partnering calendar in your own time zone
  • Input the meeting location of your choice, with the flexibility to choose whatever virtual meeting option you prefer.

Should you wish to talk about the Bio International virtual partnering convention contact Joshua Lee at 780-425-3802 or via email at joshua@bioalberta.com.
Shout Out – Novo Nordisk
We are always pleased when a member of BioAlberta makes it into the news cycle. While there are many good news stories from biotech as our industry battles COVID-19, but when companies like Novo Nordisk step up to help their customers who have also had their lives turned upside down. Bravo!

In April, pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk announced it was offering insulin free of charge for 90 days to diabetes patients who lost health insurance coverage because they lost their jobs.

"Patients have enough issues to worry about at this moment," Doug Langa, executive vice president of North America operations and president of Novo Nordisk, said in a statement. "We don't want being able to pay for their insulin to be one of them."

The benefit is offered through the company's diabetes patient assistance program. To learn more about Novo Nordisk see : www.novonordisk.ca
Focal Point: Innovative Reduction Strategies Inc.
An Alberta Success Story
Edmonton-based Innovative Reduction Strategies Inc., (IRSI) is an Alberta success story. “Alternative energy production is where IRSI lives,” says owner Chris Olson. “Our goal is to stomp out waste and have a positive impact on climate change through waste reduction.” IRSI is standing at the forefront of biomass waste reduction and high quality biochar production.

“Biochar is a carbon sequestering method,” says Chris Olson. “Our value add to the waste management sector is to develop comprehensive solutions to problems and to commercialize raw biochar. This is where IRSI is pursuing a project through the All West Bioindustrial Park with assistance from Alberta Innovates to test drive a public/private partnership to innovate.

IRSI’s Ulysses pyrolysis system, which once focused on waste management, now looks to biochar and carbon sequestering for business growth.

Biochar is the precursor to a lot of other applications for IRSI. They are taking wood materials like sawmill residues and working with waste coming off of demolition sites like old houses to get at the wood material. IRSI keeps it out of a landfill and gives that waste new life as soil amendment that can be mixed with compost as an alternative to peat moss.

“We were inspired by the aboriginals in the Amazon who, as an ancient culture, would produce a raw biochar through slash and burn techniques and blend this with other waste products to make terra preta , a living soil,” adds Olson. “We use a variety of waste streams to generate thermal energy to run our equipment.” 

Olson says overall Canada has pretty good soils but the home and garden applications here, as well as cannabis production, is a definite business growth area. While that is our current focus, there is an opportunity for us to expand to places like Africa where there are low quality soils and where our equipment can be put to work to really make a difference and improve their soils.”

IRSI was about to launch direct to consumers for use in home gardening and landscaping, but has been delayed because of COVID19. They are looking to help businesses who have residual biomass they need to get rid of, or who need a carbon additive, which is sometimes used in concrete or in biopolymers. 

Though Covid19 has slowed their plans, IRSI is ready to get a low 1 kg raw biochar product into stores for homeowners to use. In the near future you can expect to see bags of soil boosters at your local greenhouse and home improvement stores.

Olson says they are always looking for more wood waste and will accept this type of waste from local arborists and is currently examining how they can accept wood waste direct from homeowners as well. He adds that while their initial focus started with using a wide variety of feedstock to reduce the waste and produce biochar to improve soils, they have since expanded their operation to now produce raw biochar soil amendment products.

Tours of the IRSI site near Edmonton will resume for interested individuals and businesses once self-distancing restrictions are lifted. If you would like to reserve a tour space, contact Chris Olson at 780-394-6173.  See www.irsi-inc.com for more information on this Alberta success story!
Biochar is a carbon rich porous substrate derived from biomass materials. Activated carbon is a $4 billion per year industry. Biochar is estimated to be between $100-150 million globally and growing.

Biopolymers are derived from agricultural non food crops and are sustainable, carbon neutral and are renewable because they are made from plant materials.

Biopolymers are often used as additives in cosmetics, toothpaste among other items including concrete construction because they can bond to form larger structures.
IRSI Owner Chris Olson
Chris Olson is a graduate of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s alternative energy program. IRSI was incorporated in 2014 as an industrial equipment designing and fabricating company. IRSI now operates directly in the waste management space, utilizing thermal treatment equipment to produce raw biochar. 
BioAlberta Feature:
Tapping the Potential of Alberta's natural strengths
by Natural Products Canada
Darren Bolding  Regional Director  Natural Products Canada
Wondering what life will look like after COVID-19?

One thing is certain; people will need products from Alberta.

“The big global challenges like food security and environmental sustainability will still be here after COVID-19,” says Darren Bolding. “Alberta has tremendous strengths to address these issues.”

Darren Bolding,, Regional Director,
Natural Products Canada

A broad definition of natural products
Bolding, a Regional Director for Natural Products Canada, says the organization’s broad approach to the definition of ‘natural products’ opens a ton of potential for Alberta's entrepreneurs. The scope includes everything from natural health products and
functional ingredients, to agricultural applications such as biopesticides and soil inputs, and value-added agri-products like bioplastics and other biochemicals.

It’s essentially any innovation that can be derived from a natural molecule,” says Bolding. “Alberta’s rich agricultural history, coupled with recent investments in new areas like hemp and natural health products, makes it well positioned for future growth despite the current environment.”

Bolding goes on to cite some examples of strong Alberta companies that are capturing attention around the world with their innovations, including AOR , a company that has been developing science-based natural health products for nearly 30 years, and Botaneco , who uses their oilseed processing technology to create value-added ingredients such as plant protein.

Providing capital and programs for innovative start-ups
NPC, which was formed in 2016, provides a range of programs and services to support innovative natural products, all of which are available amid the current COVID-19 challenges. One of the more popular offerings is NPC’s investment fund.

NPC has invested in eleven Canadian companies, achieving a leverage of 7X in additional capital, and experienced two exits–a stat that has garnered interest in the broader investment world. CanBiocin, the Edmonton-based creators of custom probiotics for animal health, is one of the eleven companies in the NPC portfolio.

Entrepreneurs can also benefit from a suite of commercialization programs designed to help high-potential companies overcome key challenges to get to market such as hiring C-level personnel; validating their technology; and attracting financing.

Partake, a dynamic non-alcohol craft brewing company in Calgary, was one of the first successful applicants to the programs. They used the Executive Talent Program to hire a VP Sales to help them dramatically extend their Canadian and US distribution channels.
From left to right : Jake Burlett (CEO, CanBiocin) Shelley King (CEO, Natural Products Canada) and Darren Bolding (Regional Director, Natural Products Canada) at CanBiocin’s investment announcement in March 2019

Connections to a diverse and valuable network
NPC’s track record of identifying and supporting highly innovative companies, products and technologies has attracted interest from corporations and investors across the country and around the world. It was a key factor behind the creation of Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster , NPC’s comprehensive model for connecting and supporting the industry. Cargill and Nature’s Way are just a few of the multinational corporations that have joined the Cluster to find quality innovations coming out of Canada’s entrepreneur and research community.

“Introductions to those corporations can be game-changing for start-ups in Alberta,” says Bolding. NPC employs a number of tactics to introduce Canadian innovation to corporations and investors, including virtual pitch events . These online gatherings allow companies to present their business plans to strategic investors, corporations and others who could help advance their company. Now that COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of large, in-person gatherings, these virtual events have become even more important to help maintain connectivity between high-potential companies, and corporations and investors looking for innovation and investment opportunities.

Bolding says NPC’s comprehensive approach to building and supporting the Cluster of entrepreneurs, researchers, corporations, investors and others is the right formula for advancing the sector across the country.

“In the end it’s always about NPC’s ability to connect the right people, expertise, capital and innovation,” says Bolding. “I’m happy to help Alberta entrepreneurs connect with those resources during these uncertain times, and as we look ahead to the opportunities beyond COVID-19.”
NSERC Community Innovation Grants:
Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19
NSERC wants to leverage expertise and infrastructure in our polytechnics and colleges to tackle COVID-19. Special call for proposals; up to $75,000 per project available.

Objective: accelerate the transfer and application of applied research and of expertise for local community organizations and partners from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors on COVID-19 related topics. All projects must address topics of immediate relevance to the COVID-19 outbreak.

See here (this is the link www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Innovate-Innover/CCI-COVID_eng.asp for details and contact information. Applications will be accepted in the NSERC Online system from now until June 1, 2020, pending availability of funds. Txt Link
GOC: Canada Summer Jobs 2020
Temporary Flexibilities for Employers
For those members who would look to this mechanism for student summer employment, be advised of the following changes GOC has made to the program in response to the COVID-19 situation.

Temporary flexibilities for Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) 2020

Wage subsidies: All funded employers will be eligible to receive a wage subsidy reimbursement of up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage. Previously, private and public sector employers were only eligible to receive up to 50% of the provincial or territorial minimum wage.

Part-time employment: All funded employers may offer part-time placements (for example, fewer than 30 hours per week). Previously, all CSJ-funded employment had to be full time (a minimum of 30 hours per week for at least 6 weeks).

Employment period: All funded employers may offer job placements between May 11, 2020 and February 28, 2021. Employers can offer part-time employment to youth who want to work during the academic year. Previously, all CSJ-funded positions had to be completed no later than August 28, 2020.

Changes to project and job activities: All funded employers will be provided the flexibility to amend project and job activities to support the delivery of critical services.

To be eligible to receive funding under the CSJ program, employers must be able to provide youth a job placement in a safe work environment. In the current context of COVID-19, employers are responsible to stay informed of provincial guidance on essential services and Municipal, Provincial and Federal public health information.

Hire a student- Get funding with big benefits
Canadian universities and colleges are placing highly-educated students in the bio-economy. If you are looking to hire young and eager talent, BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) can help.

Past positions include everything from Drug Formulation & Delivery to Sustainable Agriculture Intern.

Want to learn more? See Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) and contact Benita at buruhisho@biotalent.ca; Hannah at hwalhad@biotalent.ca; Colleen at chayes@biotalent.ca; Sue, in BC at scallaghan@biotalent.ca.

AGE-WELL’s funding has been renewed by GoC and they will receive $21.9 million over three years to provide Canadians with technology-based solutions to improve quality of life for older adults and caregivers.

If you have a project in mind check out http://ow.ly/fgsL50zE3oO Y
Western Economic Diversification Canada: $304 million for western Canadian businesses

Businesses across Western Canada unable to access existing relief measures can now apply to Western Economic Diversification Canada's Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. 

The new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered by regional development agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations, that are key to the regions and local economies. A total of $304 million will be available for western Canadian businesses.

To learn more or apply see Western Economic Diversification Canada
In the news…
Congratulations to Alberta’s Matt Hodgson, Outbreaker Solutions North America, for
Fast-Acting Touch Surface Antimicrobial, and Loreen Wales of My Viva Plan Inc. for
AR-YOU-OK Digital Wellness Solution for COVID-19– two winners of the recent Roche Innovation Challenge! Read all about their innovative product offerings at www.rochecanada.com/en/funding-opportunities/covid-19.html

Thanks to our Platinum Sponsor Roche Canada for fostering great Canadian innovation!
Great virtual pitch on Covid19 specific technology applications to NASAiTech from Alberta’s Dr. Jayan Nagendran-Tevosol and Chandra Devam & Scott Edgar-ArisMD Inc. In case you missed it watch the recording and hone your virtual pitch skills!  livestream.com/nasaitech/ignite-the-night-april22

We wish success to Alberta’s Entos Pharmaceuticals who has just partnered with EpiVax Inc. to develop a pan-coronavirus DNA vaccine that is headed for human clinical trials.

Read about it here .

On May 12, 2020, The Financial Times named BioNeutra Global Corporation, the Canadian manufacturer of healthy sugar alternative VitaFiber, as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the 20 countries composing the Americas.

BioNeutra joins Tesla, Uber, Netflix and Paypal in the newspaper’s inaugural ranking of growth companies listed in a special edition of the paper. Read more here .
BioAlberta member Edmonton-based biotechnology company CanBiocin Inc. has acquired all of the assets of Denver, CO based Pure Cultures Inc.

CanBiocin produces species-specific probiotics to support pet and livestock health. Pure Cultures’ assets include proven species-specific probiotics, a U.S. patent for probiotics and fermentation metabolites for the prevention and treatment of disease conditions in animals as well as products for poultry and pigs marketed under the brand names Flock Vitality® and Pig Vitality™ R ead all about it here .
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