Agri-Food Innovation Awards Program 2006

The Awards Program is a coordinated effort of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Ontario Agri-Food Technologies. Funding is being provided through the Agricultural Policy Framework, an agreement among the federal, provincial and territorial governments to make Canada a world leader in agricultural science and innovation. This annual Awards Program recognizes the outstanding contributions made by Canadian innovators to advance the sustainability of the Agricultural bioproduct system and the social well-being and prosperity of Ontario.

In 2006, the focus of the Agri-Food Innovation Awards was "Celebrating Excellence in Canadian Industrial Bioproducts". Nominations were received in three categories: Communications, Innovation and Young Canadian Innovator.

The 2006 Awards were presented to the three winners on July 12, 2006 at the Agri-Food Innovation Forum, which was held in conjunction with the 2006 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, in Toronto. Dr. Gord Surgeoner, the President of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, was the Master of Ceremonies for the awards.

Communications Award – recognizes an individual, team, organization or business who, through credible, effective and innovative communications programs or products, has transferred science-based agricultural bioproduct knowledge to Ontario consumers, businesses or other stakeholders in the agri-food value chain.

The Green Kitchen, developed by the Council for Biotechnology Information, won the 2006 Communications Award. Ray Mowling, Executive Director of the Council for Biotechnology (Canada), received the award on behalf of the Kitchen. Dr. Marc Fortin, Assistant Deputy Minister, Research, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, presented the award to Mr. Mowling.

Since the Green Kitchen first opened its doors a little more than a year ago, it has been on display to almost 2 million visitors at shows from Eat! Vancouver to the Royal Winter Fair and has earned more than 25 million media impressions. And the numbers are continuing to climb with shows in Quebec and the Maritimes taking place this summer.

With its hemp counters, wheat straw cupboards and corn starch carpets all housed in a 15 foot granary bin and with its “Tastes from the Green Kitchen” brand recipes and snacks, the Kitchen has provided a platform for trusted 3rd party spokespeople such as dietitians, academics and growers to deliver the messages.

The Green Kitchen provides a range of printed collateral support to visitors, including the 24 page “Tastes from the Green Kitchen” magazine (both French and English editions), bioproduct fact sheets, and other partner material. The Green Kitchen also provides online consumer support through CBI’s (French) web sites.

Innovation Award – recognizes an individual, team, organization or business whose leadership, new technology, value-added product or ser­vice has enhanced or holds the potential to enhance, the use of Ontario bio-based feedstocks, while at the same time generating profits for the agricultural sector.

The BIOX Corporation was the winner of the 2006 Innovation Award. Tim Haig, President and CEO of BIOX, received the award on behalf of BIOX. Dr. Alan Wildeman, Vice President of Research of the University of Guelph, presented the award to Mr. Haig.

BIOX is a privately held Canadian corporation. It has recently completed the design, fabrication and construction of a 60 million litre per annum, state-of-the-art, biodiesel production facility in Hamilton, Ontario. The plant has completed both the commissioning and initial start-up phases and will commence commercial production shortly.

It is important to recognize that biodiesel itself is not new and has been produced and consumed on a commercial scale in Europe for the past 20 years. However, until the BIOX Process, the high cost of biodiesel has limited its appeal, especially in North America.

The BIOX process is a new method of producing biodiesel in which triglycerides and fatty acids (from vegetable oils, agricultural seed oils, animal fats/greases and recycled cooking oils) are sequentially converted to methyl esters by acid catalysed esterification and base catalysed transesterification. BIOX is able to meet and exceed the standards required by oil and gas companies internationally while attaining yields of 1:1 by way of its continuous production process. The plant in Hamilton is therefore the first commercial scale biodiesel plant to utilize the proprietary BIOX process.

Tim Haig founded the BIOX Corporation in September 2000 and is currently the President and CEO. He has over 20 years experience in the field of strategic business development with an emphasis on environmental technologies and engineering. Tim received his MBA in London, England and his degree as an Industrial Engineer from the Royal Military of College of Canada. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces (Army) for 10 years as an officer.

Young Canadian Innovator Award – recognizes the achievements of a young Canadian innovator (35 years of age or younger as of June 30, 2006), whose work related to the generation of new ideas, knowledge or technology reflects the entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit needed to drive innovation in the development of Ontario’s agricultural bioproducts.

Dr. Leonardo C. Simon, a researcher in the Chemical Engineering Department of Waterloo University, won the 2006 Young Canadian Innovator Award. Dr. Tony Vannelli, the Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Engineering at Waterloo, received the award on Dr. Simon’s behalf as he was unable to attend the ceremony. Murray Porteous, the Chair of the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, presented the award to Dr. Vannelli.

Dr. Simon is the driving force behind an exciting new project on agricultural fibre/oriented plastic composites that ascertains how to analyze and characterize new agricultural materials for the construction industry. This project is a collaborative effort among the Universities of Guelph, Toronto and Waterloo. Such projects that facilitate the conversion of raw crop biomass into components usable by manufacturing industries are necessary if agriculture is to fulfill its role in the bioeconomy.

Leonardo is also a key player and original member of an emerging network of university researchers and industrial partners that will be a model for bio-based research and development for the rest of Canada. Although the value of multidisciplinary research to address broad socioeconomic objectives is widely recognized, it is in fact not easy to establish or maintain, especially with disciplines as disparate as plant biology and engineering. Leonardo has been exceptional in the degree to which he is willing to participate in the development of research strategies and proposals with researchers in different departments and institutions and with industrial partners.

Dr. Leonardo C. Simon received his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001. He joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Waterloo University in 2002, and has developed a rigorous research program, specializing in the area of polymers, polymerization reaction and catalysts, composite material and leading edge technology in nanomaterials. He is much sought after nationally and internationally as a speaker.

Congratulations to the 2006 Agri-Food Innovation Award Winners!

From left to right – Dr. Tony Vannelli (for Leonardo C. Simon), Tim Haig (BIOX) and Ray Mowling (The Green Kitchen).