New Brunswick turns fish and forests into high tech opportunities

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Atlantic Canada’s increasing success on the biotech and life sciences front in the last decade is a true story of finding the sweet spot of where old meets new.

Take New Brunswick for example: “We’ve seen consistent growth over the last five years,” says Meaghan Seagrave, CEO of BioNB. We’ve begun to understand just how hugely important it is to find ways to take advantage of the opportunities to innovate in our traditional industries in a manner that increases output but addresses the global move towards greenhouse gas reduction and minimizing climate change.”

Seagrave credits much of this growth to the familiar theme of collaboration. “Finding ways to work better together as opposed to institution against institution or province against province is beginning to give us real competitive advantage.”

For Seagrave this shift requires looking at both the region and its opportunities differently.

“You take a look at Atlantic Canada and we’ve got all these hidden gems with so much opportunity to do things bigger and better—like fish processing. We’ve got a 115 fish processing plants in New Brunswick alone. Why are we not working more with the entire industry (both big and small players) to look at the collective opportunities through technology and data analytics to innovate?”

Seagrave points to Maritime Innovation, JD Irving Limited’s new lab in Sussex, NB, as a perfect example of how biotechnology is transforming legacy industries in New Brunswick.

“We think of them as a traditional forest company, but people would be shocked to understand the analytics and the science around the genomics of the trees, the opportunities of taking the data and using it to grow trees bigger, faster, stronger, and then implementing even robotics and AI into the sector.”

“We’ve got the oldest computer science department in North America at the University of New Brunswick. We have the largest percentage of engineers per capita in all of Canada in New Brunswick and we have the largest number of water technology companies in North America just in around the Fredericton area. If you look at little pieces like these and link them together we have a huge opportunity.”

While New Brunswick is well known for traditional industries like forestry and fishing, Seagrave says it has much more to offer.

“We’ve got the oldest computer science department in North America at the University of New Brunswick. We have the largest percentage of engineers per capita in all of Canada in New Brunswick and we have the largest number of water technology companies in North America just in around the Fredericton area. If you look at little pieces like these and link them together we have a huge opportunity.”

It makes Atlantic Canada and New Brunswick in particular, a really interesting place to bring business, do business and grow business in North America. There are few places in the world that have access to the plethora of natural resources or diversity of research capacity necessary to support these opportunities.

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