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Green chemistry in spotlight as new centre of excellence launches


Kingston, ON – PARTEQ Innovations, the technology commercialization office of Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, has been awarded $9.1 million from the federal government towards the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence for the development and commercialization of Green Chemistry technologies.

The first entity of its kind in North America, Greencentre Canada will bring together Canada’s leading green chemistry researchers, industry partners, and commercialization professionals in a common goal of developing cleaner, less energy-intensive solutions for traditional chemical and manufacturing processes.

The centre, to be located at Innovation Park at Queen’s University in Kingston, will provide expertise in technology development, intellectual property protection, business development, marketing and financial management, complemented with state-of-the-art facilities and expertise for product development, scale-up manufacturing and testing of early stage discoveries.

Greencentre Canada is funded under the national Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program to bring promising research-based innovations to market.

“This centre represents Canada’s first all-inclusive, hands-on, chemistry innovation ecosystem,” says John Molloy, president and CEO of PARTEQ.

“As a leader in green chemistry research, we at Queen’s are pleased and excited to see this innovative approach to technology commercialization by PARTEQ realized,” says Dr Kerry Rowe, vice-principal (research) at Queen’s. “The need for a national, collaborative centre focused on commercializing green chemistry research is reflected by the endorsements that this project has received from researchers and universities across Canada. We are delighted to see this truly pan-Canadian effort come to fruition.”

Dr. Philip Jessop, a professor of chemistry at Queen’s University and Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry, will be technical director of the centre. Dr Jessop was recently awarded this year’s $250,000 John C Polanyi Award for his discovery of a “Green” chemical method for triggering the emulsion or separation of mixtures such as oil and water or solvents using carbon dioxide and air.

Industry partners will play an active role in the centre in helping to find, assess and develop green chemistry innovations. The centre has strong representation from Canadian and foreign companies across the chemical value chain. Current industry investment in the centre totals $3 million.

“This level of support by industry, particularly during a time of global economic uncertainty, reflects growing recognition of the need to find Green alternatives for the chemical and manufacturing sectors,” says Dr Rui Resendes, director of commercial development in chemistry and materials at PARTEQ, and executive director of the centre.

“Imagine the positive environmental and economic impacts of alternative materials that reduce or eliminate toxic byproducts, or that don’t require energy-intensive manufacturing processes,” he says. “Many of these potential solutions already exist in the laboratories of Canada’s green chemistry researchers. With this funding, we now have the wherewithal to transform these discoveries into industry-specific applications, making it easier for our industrial partners to find and implement truly transformative innovations into their products and processes.”

Over the next five years Greencentre Canada aims to manage the commercialization of 50 green chemistry technologies, leading to at least 10 licence agreements, and to establish at least six startup companies. During this time, they also anticipate the creation of at least 250 highly skilled jobs. The centre is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.