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Verschuren Centre, CBU Embarking on Collaborative Research Projects

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By Milthon Lujan

Canada.- World-class academic research facilities and businesses working together to find innovative solutions to industry challenges are key to generating income, spurring growth and strengthening the middle class and those seeking to join it. That is why the Government of Canada is contributing a total of $997,505 to two distinct food sector projects being led by the Cape Breton University’s (CBU) Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment.

One project will explore the feasibility of extending product shelf life and reducing waste from spoilage via new food packaging technologies. The other project will establish mitigating strategies for growing oysters in an MSX positive environment.

The projects were announced today on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). The contributions are being made through ACOA’s Business Development Program, which supports small and medium-sized companies’ innovations to commercialize research and improve competiveness in international markets.

Rodger Cuzner, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton – Canso, announced a non-repayable investment of $497,505 to fund a collaboration between the Verschuren Centre and Copol International Limited to develop “smart” packing technologies that focus on managing the gases that are released during food’s natural biodegradation process. The bioactive packaging will involve creating functionalized nanoparticles for incorporation into films to provide a range of benefits, including reducing food spoilage.

Funding is also being provided to support research into oyster growth techniques to counter the effects of MSX, a parasitic infection that has decimated the oyster farming industry on the Bras D’Or Lake since the early 2000s. The Honourable Mark Eyking, Member of Parliament for Sydney – Victoria, announced a non-repayable investment of $500,000 to fund research into revitalizing the oyster aquaculture industry by attempting to grow oysters in cages suspended close to the surface of the water, which make them less susceptible to the MSX parasite. If successful, the commercialization of the growing technology could re-activate the industry in Cape Breton, and across Atlantic Canada. The Province of Nova Scotia is also providing $255,159.

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Cape Breton University is providing approximately $100,000 in the form of non-cash, in-kind donations; Copol International Limited is providing $75,000; and there has already been a total of $40,000 allocated to the Verschuren Centre for the research collaboration with Copol from the Province’sProductivity and Innovation Voucher Program. An additional contribution of $40,000 is anticipated over two years via theNova Scotia Innovation and Research Graduate Scholarship. The Province of Nova Scotia is contributing $255,159 to the oyster aquaculture project through the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

These investments build on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic Provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy. The strategy supports targeted investments in initiatives that build on the region’s competitive advantages, such as its strong export potential and skilled labour, in order to expand business activities between the region and international markets. It also focuses on the commercialization of home-based research and development to spur value-added opportunities in established industries.

Source: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

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