CFI grant accelerates bio-products research and technologies at UBC Engineering

Canadian Foundation for Innovation announced grants of $10.1 million to three of UBC’s engineering professors, James Olson, Xiaotao Bi and Walter Merida.

James Olson, Pro Tem Dean, Faculty of Applied Science


Principal Investigator and Pro Tem Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science, James Olson will lead and collaborate with a cluster of researchers to accelerate the world’s transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a bio-economy. James Olson, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his collaborators will use their expertise in genomics, synthetic biology, industrial biotechnology and materials science and the grant allocation of $4.47 million to develop technologies that convert biomass into high-value bioenergy, biochemical and biomaterial products to significantly improve the quality of life in Canada and around the world — the global market for which is estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion by 2030.

“We plan to make major contributions to Canada’s prosperity in the coming years by creating high-strength, lightweight, low-cost materials from biomass that have the potential to transform the building, transportation, healthcare and other industries.”



Xiaotao Bi, Director, The China-Canada Joint Centre for Bioenergy Research and Innovation, University of British Columbia


Xiaotao Bi, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and eight co-PIs from UBC and industrial partners will use the $1.79 million to build a pilot-scale biomass research, development and demonstration laboratory that will facilitate the translation of fundamental research into new prototypes and, ultimately, commercializable, market-ready sustainable bioproducts.

“We believe that the successful bioenergy utilization of Canada’s abundant biomass resources will play a critical role in helping Canada to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and helping Vancouver to achieve its 2050 Renewable City (100% renewable energy) target.”