New federal funding will support growth of a “circular economy” for the Sarnia area, says Lambton College.
The college has been awarded a $3.25 million grant over five years from the federally-funded Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to develop a Lambton Circular Economy Innovation Platform.
The Sarnia-area had a “huge focus” in the last decade or more on bio-technology and Lambton College provided research and development support for efforts to create what was called a “bio-chemistry cluster” alongside the community’s traditional petrochemical industries, said Mehdi Sheikhzadeh, the college’s vice-president of research and innovation.
“Gradually we built quite a bit of infrastructure and expertise among our staff, facility and students around a lot of new areas of research, including the circular economy,” Sheikhzadeh said.
“The circular economy is about the reuse, refurbish, recycle of products to enhance their lifecycle, as well as a very sustainable way of living.”
As well as research into technologies and processes, the college has carried out projects “on the concept of a more circular community” and “enhancing the knowledge and awareness about the use of renewable and sustainable resources,” he said.
“With this track record and expertise that we have developed in the past 10 or 15 years” the college reached the point where it is able to “integrate these initiatives under one umbrella,” Sheikhzadeh said.
That happened at the same time the federal agency announced the grant program which provided an opportunity for the college to connect its several areas of research to focus on a circular economy for Lambton County, he said.
The new platform is expected to help attract companies involved in the circular economy, while also helping the college train the workforce required, Sheikhzadeh said.
The circular economy “touches many different sectors,” including bio-clean-tech and chemicals, as well as non-industrial areas, such as health care, he said.
“The hope is that this is going to be impactful for the community and the region.”
During the five years the federal funding will be coming to the college, it plans to develop 250 applied research projects and another 125 longer projects expected to attract additional funding.
It is also expected to provide 155 research education opportunities for students from the college’s IT, technology, health and business areas, the college said.