Innovate BC fuels local R&D with $1M investment into 4 innovation projects

The funding, through Innovate BC’s Ignite program, is accelerating the commercialization of biotech, cleantech, mining and robotics projects.

Crown agency Innovate BC announced $1,075,000 awarded to four BC research and development projects. The funding, through its Ignite program, is accelerating the commercialization of the following biotech, cleantech, mining and robotics projects.


Dr. Katherine Elvira at the University of Victoria and Dr. Stephanie Willerth of Axolotl Biosciences were awarded $175,000 for the project ‘3D bioprinting personalized brain tissue models.’

Using 3D bioprinting, this project is producing next-generation brain organoids. These organoids can be used as a tool for screening potential drugs to treat neurological diseases and disorders as well as for understanding how COVID-19 infection affects the function of neural tissue. 


Dr. Majid Bahrami and Dr. Erik Kjeang from Simon Fraser University and Shanna Knights of Ballard Power Systems were awarded $300,000 for their project ‘High-power density fuel cells for heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles.’

This project is supporting the development of the next generation of cost-effective, high-power density fuel cell membrane electrode assembly for heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles.


Dr. Bern Klein of the University of British Columbia, Chuck Lee of Rockburst Technologies Inc., and Richard MacKellar of Chrysalix Venture Capital Fund were awarded $300,000 for their project ‘Transcritical CO2 Rock Pulverization.’

This project is developing a rock comminution processing system that deploys a first-of-a-kind approach in comminution. It aims to improve efficiency, GHG reductions, achieve operational simplicity and minimize environmental impact.


Dr. Shahriar Mirabbasi of the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Reza Tavakoli and Dr. Pouya Kamalinejad of Avestec Technologies Inc. were awarded $300,000 for their project ‘Contact-based inspection using tethered flying robots.’

Traditional industrial asset inspection methods are unsafe, expensive and time consuming. This project is developing tethered flying robots for contact-based inspection to eliminate health hazards and risks to human operators and to reduce time and cost of inspection.


“We’re so excited to be able to help bring these novel innovations to market,” commented Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC. “We can’t wait to see how these projects develop over the next few years.”

Each year Innovate BC’s Ignite program selects 6-8 research projects in the natural resources and applied sciences, awarding up to $300,000 per project. To date it has funded 34 projects for a total value of $8.5M.

“With collaboration at the forefront, these teams are producing technologies that will help protect the environment, stimulate the economy, and improve health and safety for people throughout BC,” said Ravi Kahlon, BC Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, in a statement. “The Ignite Awards showcase the innovation and achievement of the phenomenal people that continue to drive BC’s tech sector forward.”

The next round of Ignite applications is open until June 30, 2021. Learn more and apply here.