(L-R) Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, joins Bill Greuel, CEO Protein Industries Canada and James Szarko, CEO, Botaneco Inc. on a tour of at the Botaneco facility in northeast Calgary on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
Jim Wells / Postmedia
A Calgary company will receive $8 million from an industry-led consortium that aims to make Western Canada a leader in the plant-based protein sector.Botaneco Inc., which currently has 25 employees and an office in northeast Calgary, has developed a unique processing technology to extract protein and other ingredients from crops such as pulses, hemp and canola. The company has been selected as the first-ever recipient of funding from Protein Industries Canada — a group of businesses, post-secondary institutions and non-profits that was awarded $153 million from the federal government last November through its Innovation Superclusters Initiative. The consortium aims to leverage that funding by partnering with the private sector on plant-based protein projects.Botaneco CEO James Szarko said his company (along with partners Corteva Canada and Taber-based Rowland Farms) will use the new funding to further commercialize its technology and research applications in the food, personal care, and animal feed markets. The company plans to open a new “food lab” in Calgary later this year that will work on developing all sorts of products, from meat and dairy substitutes to packaged goods like cereals and bars. It will also be expanding its aquaculture program in Brooks, Alberta which is researching the use of canola protein concentrates as fish food.
James Szarko, CEO, Botaneco Inc. speaks at the Botaneco facility in northeast Calgary on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
“I can’t give you an exact number, but we will be creating a number of new jobs,” Szarko said in an interview. “We would hope that we can double our business over the next two to four years.”Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada, said Western Canada is already a global leader in the production of high-protein crops such as peas, lentils, chickpeas, hemp and canola. But most of the crops harvested are exported as raw commodities instead of higher-value processed goods, something the consortium aims to change.“By creating new uses for our highest value crops, we’ll contribute to a more robust processing sector in Western Canada, creating jobs in manufacturing and food science and being commercial leaders in our field,” Greuel said, adding more funding announcements from PIC will be made in the coming months.
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development speaks at the Botaneco facility in northeast Calgary.
Jim Wells /
The federal government’s goal in creating the supercluster initiative was to position Canada as a global source of high-quality plant protein amid the growing worldwide demand for food and increasing consumer interest in plant-based products, said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.Bains, who was in Calgary for Wednesday’s announcement, said the government also has a keen interest in helping the agriculture sector diversify, especially in light of recent trade challenges such as China’s halting of canola and meat imports from Canada.“We’re looking at how we can create more value when it comes to our protein sector and use that to tap into other supply chains,” he email@example.comOn Twitter: @AmandaMsteph