Strategic Advantages for Prospective Initiatives
Abundant High Value Wood Fibre Supply
Northern Ontario contains 690,000 square kilometers of Crown forests - an area of vast natural wealth and diversity. These forests are managed to internationally recognized standards of sustainability, and the quality of the wood fibre produced is excellent. CRIBE's vision is to move Ontario to the forefront of the commercialization of fuels, energy, fibres, and chemicals from the North's renewable forest materials, replacing similar products today derived from non-renewable fossil fuels.
Existing Forest Sector Infrastructure
For generations, the forest industry has been an important driving force of the provincial and local economies of Northern Ontario. This forest sector infrastructure is comprised of the logging industry and two major forest sector industries: the wood products manufacturing industries, and the paper and allied industries. All of these sectors are supported by experienced supply and service firms which have supported this heavily capitalized industry for generations.
The location of CRIBE in Thunder Bay provides clear strategic advantages to build on the emerging research strengths at Lakehead University through the Biorefining Research Initiative (BRI). In March 2007, the Government of Ontario awarded $6 million to Lakehead University to create two endowed Ontario Research Chairs in support of cutting-edge research in biorefining - a field that develops ways of refining renewable forest biomass materials in a sustainable manner. This significant research funding established the foundation of BRI and enabled Lakehead University to recruit world-class researchers in the biorefining field to develop transformative technologies and products from forest biomass.
CRIBE also works collaboratively with the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance in Sarnia and the BioAuto Council in Guelph.
An important component of CRIBE's mandate is to seek out partnerships with entepreneurs, research organizations and industry with the specific purpose of turning existing research and ideas into a commercial reality. CRIBE has initiated a long term partnership with FPInnovations in establishing research capacity in northern Ontario.
FPInnovations is Canada's leading forest products research institute which performs research, technical services and tech transfer activities relating to wood harvesting, wood products, pulp and paper, nanotechnology and bio-energy and chemical production. As part of its Transformative Technology research program, sponsored by Natural Resources Canada, FPInnovations has developed a variety of new technologies and expertise relating to the forest bio-economy.
FPInnovations and CRIBE will provide financial contributions toward developing new scientific and technical capacity, pilot plant capabilities and pre-commercial demonstration projects in Northern Ontario.
AbitibiBowater has also partnered with CRIBE and FPInnovations in exploring new noval uses of forest biomass at its facilities in Thunder Bay. The parties have been working on several projects over the past year looking at alternative uses and bioproducts from the conventional pulpmill feedstock flows. These projects are ongoing.
The long tradition of the forest industry in northern Ontario has provided a very skilled and knowledgeable mechanical trades workforce. Secondary mechanical, civil and support trades companies are common throughout the region having supported the forest and mining industry for generations.
Thunder Bay is a key major forest products manufacturing centre in Ontario. The city has a population of over 109,000 residents and as the largest metropolitan centre in Northwestern Ontario the community is the region's commercial, medical, transportation and communications centre. As the geographical centre of North America, Thunder Bay is a vital gateway to markets in Canada, the US Midwest, throughout North America and internationally.
Multi-Modal Transportation Networks
Thunder Bay is linked to an agile transportation network connected through marine, rail, road and air access. At the head of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System, the Port of Thunder Bay provides a highly competitive routing option linked to CN/CP rail lines and the Trans-Canada Highway. Approximately 400 ships visit the port every year.