Canada’s natural products sector has the potential to offer vast environmental, health and economic benefits to Canadians. This includes everything from agriculture to wastewater treatment, veterinary care and green household products. Many of the businesses breaking new ground are currently working on their own, and would benefit from the knowledge and expertise of others in the sector to develop and commercialize their products.
The federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry is providing an investment of $20 million in a $41.8-million initiative led by Natural Products Canada (NPC) to support current and future innovation in the sector, create jobs and help protect the environment.
“Our government stands behind our brilliant innovators to make sure they have access to the expertise, knowledge and resources to grow and to reach markets all across our country,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Our support will help Natural Products Canada bring together businesses, academia and industry players to reach untapped markets, grow their businesses, create jobs and provide natural, sustainable and healthy products for Canadians.”
NPC, a Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island-based not-for-profit organization established in 2015, will lead efforts to connect innovators and organizations from across various sectors to accelerate innovation and the commercialization of products impacting human, animal and plant well-being; increase knowledge transfer; and gain access to global value chains.
NPC will draw on their expertise, strategic partnerships and increased access to markets and will invest in research and development (R&D) and the commercialization of natural products in the following five areas:
- Agriculture, including biopesticides and indoor growing technologies. This could include, for example, natural biopesticides that leverage micro-organisms for the reduction of codling moth on apple, pear and plum trees.
- Animal health and nutrition, including natural veterinary products and feed ingredients. This could include, for example, animal care products to protect livestock against bacteria, viruses and parasites.
- Bioproducts and sustainability, including bioplastics and compostable materials. This could include, for example, fully biodegradable products like shampoo made from plants or utensils and plates made from the fibres of hemp or flax.
- Human health and nutrition, including natural supplements and ingredients such as food preservatives extracted from mushrooms.
- Water and waste management, including water-quality monitoring and remediation of contaminated sites. This could include, for example, microbe-based monitoring and treatment solutions for wastewater.
This investment is expected to help the network expand to over 2,500 organizations, accelerate the growth of over 500 companies, enable $28 million in programs to accelerate R&D and the commercialization of innovative natural products and technologies, and generate $200 million in new investments for Canada’s natural products industry.
“Innovation in natural products has significant potential to bring social and economic benefits to Canada through quality solutions that benefit people, animals and the planet,” states Shelley King, CEO of NPC. “Natural Products Canada is pleased to partner with the Government of Canada to support the companies and researchers that are developing these solutions and the broader ecosystem that is facilitating bringing these innovations to market.”
The network has successfully helped over 800 Canadian companies to date. This includes completing a pilot phase of its commercialization programs that helped 21 companies advance 25 new natural products to market, generating 48 new jobs, $12 million in new revenue and $22.9 million in new investment.