Verschuren Centre, CBU Embarking on Collaborative Research Projects

by ahnationtalk on May 15, 201871 Views

From: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Government of Canada supports development of “smart” food packaging; aquaculture solutions to protect oyster industry

May 15, 2018 – Sydney, NS – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

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, Minster 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.

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.


“Our government is committed to creating sustainable economic growth and prosperity in communities across Canada. By working with top academic researchers and industry leaders, we help support and promote innovative partnerships, ensuring leading edge ideas continue to flourish and contribute to the Canadian economy.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“Today’s investment allows Cape Breton University and Copol International Ltd. to combine their strengths and expertise to explore a significant opportunity. This partnership is working on the development of a smart food packaging system designed to reduce food waste and extend shelf life, a system that has potential for export to new and emerging markets.”

Rodger Cuzner, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton – Canso

“Aquaculture has long been identified as an important economic contributor in this region, and I am pleased this funding further demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to the industry. This research project – a terrific blend of curiosity and innovation – has great potential to help mitigate strategies to revitalize the oyster farming industry in this region.”

Honourable Mark Eyking, Member of Parliament for Sydney – Victoria

“ Partnerships between Nova Scotia businesses, our post-secondary institutions, and our talented graduates are helping drive innovation in our businesses, such as North Sydney’s Copol, and advancing research that can improve the productivity of our aquaculture industry. Programs such as the Productivity and Innovation Voucher and the Nova Scotia Innovation and Research Graduate Scholarship program are helping advance Copol’s exciting project so that it’s ready to take the next big step.”

The Honourable Geoff MacLellan, Nova Scotia Minister of Business

“These two very different projects exemplify the capacity of the Verschuren Centre to bring our expertise to advance local business development for companies and sectors. Through collaborative research, we progress from innovation to commercialization.“

Beth Mason, CEO, Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment

“We are very excited to be working with the Verschuren Centre to develop the next generation of film for food packaging. The intent is to develop a film that will extend product shelf life and reduce food waste, and we are very appreciative of ACOA’s support to make this possible.”

Denis Lanoë, Vice President of Operations, Copol International Limited

Quick facts

    • The Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment is a world-class research and demonstration centre with expertise in nano applications in energy, environment and health.
    •  Verschuren Centre has currently employed a research assistant on the project, and an additional three team members are expected to come on board as a result of this collaboration.  
    • Copol International Limited is a North Sydney-based company that manufactures monolayer to five-layer plastic CPP film to meet North American demand for a number of applications, including food and produce packaging.
    • Copol currently employs 50 people and operates 24 hours per day, seven days a week. If the research project is successful, the company will expand operations to manufacture and commercialize the resulting smart packaging at its North Sydney facility.
    • The global market for customized packaging is $23.5 billion, with North America holding a 35.1 per cent share of the market due to stringent health regulations and growing heath awareness among consumers.
    • One of the measures of success into research mitigating MSX disease will be to successfully take oysters from hatchery to maturity without significant detriment from the parasite.
    • Oysters grown in suspension reach market size sooner and can be sold earlier than oysters grown using traditional methods.


Alex Smith
Director of Communications and Outreach
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Phone: 902-426-9417 | 902-830-3839 (cell)

Lenore Parsley
Communications Manager
Cape Breton University
Phone : (902) 574-1299
Email :   Denis Lanoë
Vice-President of Operations
Copol International Limited
Phone: 1-800-668-2700 | 902-574-1878 (cell)
Dr. Beth Mason
Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment
(902) 563-1182 | (604) 302-1394 (cell) Kelly Bennett
Communications Nova Scotia


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