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Funding offered for R&D on cellulose nanocrystals


March 9, 2016
By Cindy Macdonald

Two Alberta corporations have teamed up to provide funding for R&D projects that advance the knowledge and use of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), an advanced biomaterial.

The new program, called CNC Challenge 2.0, is intended to support early-stage work to demonstrate technical feasibility of CNC in high-value applications with potential for commercialization.

Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AI Bio) and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF) will support up to eight projects, and provide each successful applicant with the following:
• Up to $25,000 in funding for their CNC project research;
• Up to one kilogram of CNC from AITF’s pilot plant;
• Access to AITF’s researchers, capacity and facilities.

Researchers and developers at Canadian institutions, companies or other organizations are invited to submit proposals via the AI Bio website. The application deadline is April 13.

Successful projects have the potential for ongoing support toward commercialization.

CNC consists of nano-scale crystals made from cellulose (plant fibre). Alberta has one of the few pilot plants in the world capable of producing high-quality CNC in kilogram volumes. The plant is located on AITF’s premises in Edmonton. Current leading-edge research in the province includes the development of CNC applications in the fields of energy, health, industrial coatings, electronics and the environment.

“This is an excellent opportunity for small- and medium-sized enterprises to gain funding and material for their nanotech-related research,” said Gordon Giles, director of forestry at AITF. “I’m particularly excited at the prospect of providing researchers and developers with high-quality cellulose nanocrystals made at our Edmonton pilot plant.”

“The first CNC Challenge funding program (1.0) yielded several interesting projects,” noted Christine Murray, director of agricultural technologies at AI Bio. “We look forward to seeing other creative uses for CNC come forward which take advantage of its unique properties and great potential.”

Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions is a research agency funded by the Government of Alberta. Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF) provides technical services and funding support to facilitate the commercialization of technologies, develop new knowledge-based industry clusters and encourage an entrepreneurial culture in Alberta.