Weekly Regional Business Intelligence
“We peer so suspiciously at each other that we cannot see that we Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege.” — Pierre Trudeau
Aduro Clean Technologies expands to London with aim to accelerate research and scale-up capabilities

Aduro Clean Technologies Inc., a Sarnia headquartered developer of patented water-based technologies to chemically recycle plastics and transform heavy crude and renewable oils into new-era resources and higher-value fuels, has announced it is expanding with the opening a London facility in the Newbold Business Park. The 4,371-square-foot London facility will accommodate renovated offices, modern laboratory space, new additional analytical equipment and will host the company’s proprietary “Hydrochemolytic continuous flow plastic upcycling reactor.” Aduro was officially formed in 2011 and went public via a reverse merger transaction completed in April 2021.

The upshot: Aduro has developed a novel chemical conversion process to transform waste plastics into renewable fuels and specialty chemicals. Instead of destroying the molecules and rebuilding them, which is the traditional way of recycling plastics, they break plastics down at the molecular level and recycle them at that level. In recent lab runs, its Hydrochemolytic upcycling tech produced 99 per cent pure, diesel-like paraffin oil from plastics with a yield above 90 per cent. Though the end product could be used as fuel, the company suggests the real prize is in the efficient chemical recycling of polyethylene (PE) for use in production of more polyethylene in a fully circular mode.

London-based team of mother and daughters launch tool to combat needle anxiety

Good news for parents of needle-averse children in London: a mother-daughter-daughter trio from London have launched Needle Buddies, a customizable syringe cover. To boil it down: it hides the sharp end of the needle from your kid’s eyes in hopes of making the process a bit smoother. The trio worked with regional business development orgs ― Innovation Factory in Hamilton, Humanforce in Barrie ― to release the product, which creator Cheryl Muise (a registered nurse for 42 years) said came from some personal experiences. “I had significant needle anxiety as a child even into my early twenties,” says Muise. “I have conquered it now ― but many do not ― and I won’t forget the physical and emotional anxiety I’d experience.”

The upshot: Small though it may seem, Needle Buddies says the fear of needles (which often starts in childhood) can lead to adults skipping all sorts of shots, and that can result in much higher health care costs for the country. And with kids under five likely to be Covid vaccine-eligible in the near future, the release might be coming just at the right time.

Read more: London Inc.
Feds make additional investment in new Aspire cricket protein facility

London’s new high-profile, high-tech Aspire Food Group cricket farm is receiving another investment from the federal government ― $8.5 million through the AgriInnovate program (this follows an NGen investment of $16.8 million announced last February). The investment will help support the high-output automated processing facility as it starts producing cricket proteins (from farming up to two billion crickets per year) for use in the human and pet food industries. “Aspire is re-imagining what it means to sustainably produce food, and how smart technology can turn that vision into a reality,” said Francis Drouin, parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture, in a statement. “Aspire’s innovative facility will help further establish London’s reputation as a hub for cutting-edge technology, strongly contributing to Ontario and Canada’s position as an innovator in agriculture and agri-food.”

The upshot: With raising global concerns around food security (and rising food costs), interest is growing around crickets-as-food, as Aspire’s obvious success in attracting capital has shown in the last year. “London attracts leaders and pioneers in technological innovation who are dedicated to making the world a better place,” says London West MP Arielle Kayabaga. “Aspire will be at home here as the company re-defines what is possible in the insect protein sector, creating new solutions for sustainable food production.”

Should you embrace your strengths or fix your weaknesses?
There are often two schools of thought when it comes to deciding whether or not you need to focus more on your strengths or weaknesses. On one hand, you could focus on addressing your weaknesses so they do not hold you back in your career. On the other hand, you can ignore your weaknesses and focus on leaning into your strengths. But which is the correct approach?
Fanshawe College unveils state-of-the-art upgraded welding lab

Unchanged in decades, Fanshawe College pulled back the curtains on a state-of-the-art upgraded welding lab Monday. The upgraded and expanded welding lab creates a modern learning environment utilizing the latest welding training equipment, including virtual welding technology. Increasing the number of available welding stations from 37 to 50, the renovation also includes simulated welding stations, which allow students to hone their skills while cutting back on physical materials required at a traditional welding bench.

The upshot: The renovation is another step by the college to help address the province’s ongoing skilled trades workforce shortage. Fanshawe says more than 15 of the school’s programs utilize the welding lab, including its Welding and Fabrication Technician course, a two-year Ontario college diploma program with a paid co-op component. Creating a modern learning environment utilizing the latest welding training equipment, the school says the expanded lab “will position Fanshawe to meet growing programming potential to produce skilled labour to meet the high demand from the industry.

Read more: London Inc. | Newstalk 1290
FlixBus brings third London-Toronto bus service to town

Another bus service has stepped up to fill the gap left by Greyhound’s pandemic departure. The company, FlixBus, bills itself as “Europe’s largest long-distance bus network,” and first launched in Ontario a couple months ago (though the route itself will be run by Skyway Coach Lines operators.) They’re making two stops in London ― one at RBC Place downtown and one at Western University ― departing at 2:30 p.m. every day and making a stop in McMaster University in Hamilton at 4:15 p.m. before arriving at the Harbourfront in Toronto at 5:10 p.m. Tickets come in pretty cheap ― as low as $16, when we checked.

The upshot: When Greyhound pulled out of Ontario ― taking their many route exclusivity deals with them ― the market was finally opened to competition. Now, with Onex, Megabus and FlixBus all running the London-Toronto route (plus Via Rail service and the wacky, slow-as-molasses GO Train), commuters are growing spoiled for choice these days. In Europe, FlixBus has been at the leading edge of pushing electric buses and, in a European first, recently announced a biogas-powered long-distance bus.

New Western program aims to empower women and underrepresented innovators

A new innovation program at Western, announced this week, is hoping to help women turn their research innovations into business opportunities. The WE-Empower Program, as it’s being called, is being delivered by WORLDiscoveries (Western’s business development office) and aims “to form an allyship with principal investigators, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, staff and entrepreneurs who identify as women in the technology sector, or as Indigenous, or are from diverse and under-represented groups,” the program’s website reads. The program will provide training and funding to 30 participants starting this September; recruitment begins in July. “The WE-Empower program provides an opportunity to support women and underrepresented groups,” said WORLDiscoveries business manager Saqib Sachani, who wrote the program’s curriculum, adding that the program “also provides training and internship opportunities for post-docs and students as an alternate career once they complete their studies.”

The upshot: A key goal of Western’s new strategic plan is to break its entrepreneurial services out of the business school’s walls and spread it to the rest of campus. “Entrepreneurship is a key focus on the program, for which we will collaborate very closely with Western’s Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship,” said Souzan Armstrong, WORLDiscoveries’ executive director. “By innovating and supporting the development of new technologies, IP protection from diverse research areas on campus we are creating a platform for industry and the world to engage with Western researchers.”

Read more: Western News
Dispatch: July 1, 2022

A summary of recent business appointments and announcements, plus event listings for the upcoming week.