The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBCO) is receiving $1.9 million to develop an innovation hub that will promote clean technologies that convert carbon-based additives and components into new, sustainable products.

With this funding, UBCO will work with manufacturing, mining and lumber companies in Western Canada to research how industrial waste can gain a second life as high-quality carbon products. One example is the conversion of carbon collected during the recycling process of heavy industry vehicle tires into battery electrodes that power electric vehicles. These new products have applications in both domestic and international markets and will open up new exporting opportunities for Canadian-made innovation.

“I believe in the power of innovation and creativity as positive forces that can be harnessed to tackle economic and environmental challenges. By promoting a sustainable future and a thriving economy, the University of British Columbia Okanagan is aligning this project with the priorities of the Government of Canada,” said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “Together, we are showing our commitment to a country that provides opportunities and economic benefits to Canadians, while also ensuring the development of technologies that will lead to a cleaner, greener environment for future generations.”

This project will build on British Columbia’s reputation as a leader in the clean technology sector. It also fosters a more inclusive economy by creating almost 50 well-paying jobs for underrepresented groups including women, youth and Indigenous students.

“We are delighted that funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada will enable the creation of a new cleantech hub at the University of British Columbia Okanagan,” said Dr. Phil Barker, vice-principal and associate vice-president of research and innovation, UBCO.

“Our engineering researchers have established cutting-edge procedures for recovering and reusing carbon-based materials that would otherwise be discarded and creation of this new hub will allow us to accelerate work in this area, scale our partnerships with industry, and create technical training opportunities that will accelerate transition to a greener economy,” added Barker.

Established in 1908, UBC is a global centre for teaching, learning and research, consistently ranked among the top public universities in the world. It has more than 65,000 undergraduate and graduate students at its two major campuses in Vancouver and Kelowna.

The new cleantech hub will be located in UBC’s Innovation Precinct, a 60-acre collision zone scheduled to open its first building in fall 2021.

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