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CAN (BC): Langara College receives $3.3 million for applied research in cannabis

Langara College has been awarded one of the largest grants received by a post-secondary institution in British Columbia for cannabis research. The Applied Science for the Canadian Cannabis Industry (ASCCI) research project received grants of $2 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and $1.3 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). 

This five-year grant from NSERC will allow the College to build upon the foundation of applied research created by faculty researchers. The research project will span a wide spectrum of investigation, with applications to plant genomics, plant metabolomics, cellular response to cannabinoids, optimization of processing, and use of nanoparticles for delivery of bio-active compounds. 

"This funding is a testament to the growth and expertise in cutting-edge and cross-disciplinary applied research that Langara College has built over the years,” said Margaret Heldman, Provost, Langara College. “It presents a wonderful opportunity for our students to get hands-on, career-ready research experience as they complete their credentials, working under the tutelage of our faculty.” 

The program aims to apply the latest technology to close the knowledge gap, address the needs of this new industry, and contribute to the unique opportunity to establish Canada as the leader in applied cannabis science. Funding will provide Langara’s students the opportunity to use advanced research equipment and build their expertise. 

“The research addresses questions of importance to industry such as: what is the genetic basis of cannabis varietal designation? What is the relationship between varietal and compound production? How can new varietals be developed in a targeted way?” said Kelly Sveinson, Chair, Applied Research Centre, Langara College. “Connecting industry, College researchers, students, and other institutions, this program will leverage federal funds to build global competitiveness in the sector and develop skilled people in the field.” 

With the advent of Canadian legalization of cannabis, its utilization and its extracts have become an important emerging Canadian biotechnology subsector, with substantial economic impacts. The sector involves large companies and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) focused on cannabis production, harvesting, curing, analyzing, transporting, processing, formulating and marketing, all of which face scientific and technical challenges across the manufacturing cycle. 

The research will be supported by industry partners, including Pure Sunfarms, Ascension Sciences, and Nextleaf Solutions. Contributions from industry partners totaling $400,000 bring the project funding total to approximately $3.7 million. 

“We’re excited about working with our industry partners, leaders themselves in the various aspects of cannabinoid extraction, production, and processing,” added Sveinson. “Their expertise will be an invaluable contribution throughout the research ahead, and we look forward to collaborating.” 


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