Three private sector companies collaborating with Trent University researchers on solutions to global challenges could see new opportunities for innovation at Cleantech Commons, a green technology research and innovation park being built on Trent’s Symons Campus in partnership with the City of Peterborough.
Carbonix, Noblegen, and Karbon Brewing Co., which are all also current members of the research park’s Cleantech Innovation Portal, are exploring potential tenancy at Cleantech, where they would have access to greater collaboration and knowledge exchange to advance the development of clean technology solutions that address energy, environment, and climate challenges.
“By connecting Trent’s world-class researchers, students, and laboratory facilities with innovators and entrepreneurs, we create a supportive, connected community where new ideas and partnerships can flourish and where creative academic and entrepreneurial collaboration drives discovery and innovation for a greener future,” says Martin Yuill, executive director of Cleantech Commons.
Developing green-tech solutions for a range of sectors
Indigenous technology company, Carbonix, has been working with Dr. Andrew Vreugdenhil and Trent’s Chemistry department since 2013 on a proprietary process to convert large amounts of petroleum coke and boiler char into activated carbon. Both are typically considered waste byproducts, but would instead be used for water purification and accelerated land remediation. Carbonix’s processes and products enable a circular economy by converting these low-value byproducts into high-value, clean solutions that contribute to carbon neutrality.
“The relationship that Carbonix has developed with Trent University and the Department of Chemistry, particularly with Dr. Andrew Vreugdenhil and his team, has been instrumental in the success we have achieved to date,” says Paul Pede, Carbonix president and CEO. “Carbonix enthusiastically looks forward to expanding this relationship through establishing a research facility at Cleantech Commons in the near future.”
The company recently received $900,000 in funding from the Clean Resource Innovation Network as one of the winners of the Reducing Environmental Footprint Technology Competition. This follows a federal investment of $3.1 million in 2019 for their pilot project with Trent.
Fostering future food security
Slated to become one of Cleantech Commons’ first tenants, Noblegen has deep roots in the Trent community. What started as a high school science project by CEO and founder, Adam Noble, has grown into a biotechnology company based in Trent’s DNA Building. Through ongoing research collaborations, Trent students and faculty have contributed to scientific discovery through Noblegen, with many Trent graduates moving on to work for the company.
“Being located close to Trent University has always been a huge advantage for Noblegen. Through our relationship with Trent, we have access to world-class researchers, facilities, and equipment that has helped us to grow as a company and make significant scientific discoveries along the way,” says Noble. “We’re excited for the opportunity to continue to build on our relationship with the Trent community and to explore synergistic opportunities with some of the other tenants at Canada’s premier cleantech destination, Cleantech Commons.”
Noblegen makes unique protein, carbohydrate, and oil ingredients from a single cell microorganism, Euglena gracilis, and is dedicated to increasing access to sustainably produced, nutrient-rich food products. Their innovative contribution to future food security has been recognized through extensive awards. Most recently, Cleantech Commons strategic partner, Bioenterprise Canada, announced Noblegen as one of the successful applicants in their Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative Commercialization Stream, through which Noblegen will receive funding to conduct market validation and product development research.
Brewing up carbon-zero innovation
Through a first-of-its-kind North American research collaboration, Trent University and Karbon Brewing Co. have joined forces to develop new green brewing technologies and curricula, and to offer students hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.
“By collaborating with Trent University, we plan to lead the green revolution in brewing,” says Stephen Tyson, co-founder of Karbon Brewing, which aims to become Canada's first carbon-negative brewery by 2024. “Our goal is simple: we want to produce great beer with as little impact on the environment as possible. And we want to spur conversations around climate change.”
Karbon Brewing is also exploring tenancy at Cleantech Commons and plans to build a 30,000 square foot research facility that will feature a brewery and brewpub. The facility will follow the latest in environmental architecture and passive house design principles, which will allow for energy efficiency and a reduced environmental footprint.
Visit the Cleantech Commons website to learn more about tenancy at the research park.