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NGen announces $17M for winners of supply chain challenge


Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) has announced over $27 million in funding for the winners in its Strategic Supply Challenge.

The industry-led organization behind Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster hosted the competition last summer to challenge companies to employ advanced manufacturing technologies to build a sustainable, made-in-Canada supply of critical products that can be used in the fight against COVID-19 and beyond.

Twelve Canadian companies and their project partners will receive the funding, representing a total combined investment of over $60 million to develop advanced manufacturing projects.

“These projects are not simply investments in products to address the pandemic,” says Jayson Myers, CEO of NGen, in a statement.

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“They are investments in advanced manufacturing processes and technologies that will help meet the immediate needs created by COVID-19, while also developing a sustainable, globally competitive and cost-effective domestic supply that can be applied to industry needs beyond the pandemic.”

Winning projects were selected by a panel of independent experts based on critical needs identified by the Government of Canada, the long-term viability of manufacturing those products in Canada, and the ability of manufacturers to produce products that are safe for use and meet required product and production quality standards.

Here are the winners:

McRae Imaging, Mississauga, Ont.
Partners: DOT Automation, Concord, Ont., and Lumentra Inc., Toronto

The companied are developing an advanced manufacturing facility for the production of nanomaterial fabrics that provide a long-lasting antimicrobial shield. The initial manufactured product will be a seat cover that provides an antimicrobial barrier for up to five months, bolstered by the UV light accessory that will reactivate the coating periodically.

It is suitable for locations where disinfecting between uses by different occupants is not possible, such as in movie theatres, healthcare facilities, public transport, sports stadiums and classrooms.

Fidelity Machine & Mould, Calgary, Alta.

Partner: Sentient Tools Engineering Corp., Edmonton, Alta.

Fidelity and Sentient plant to improve the manufacturing process for medical-grade surgical and procedural face masks.

Fidelity will use advanced manufacturing technologies to make improvements to mask manufacturing machines, develop fully automated production equipment, create a recycling module to reuse waste materials and use alternative materials to produce filtration layers.

Fine Cotton Factory, Etobicoke, Ont.

Partner: Microbonds Inc., Markham, Ont.

The companies will scale up the manufacturing process of copper-infused antimicrobial textile material to achieve mass production of  washable, reusable materials for PPE applications.

The development of techniques for accurate, repeatable methods for textile manufacturing will present a major competitive advantage within the market for metal-infused textiles in healthcare.

IPC Technologies dba Prescientx, Cambridge, Ont.

Partner: BIG-nano Corporation, Waterloo, Ont.

IPC will scale up the production of a disposable, self-sanitizing, sterilizable, reusable N100 face mask.

This new mask will set a higher filtration bar for performance than the current N95 masks, using new made-in-Canada materials and automation equipment.

The collaborative team forms an Ontario-based hub for respiratory PPE manufacturing excellence that includes the project partners as well as Eclipse Automation, JOMI Engineering, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences and UHN.

The combined partner expertise will enable the development of spin-off products including reusable mask PPE with disposable filters for medical, industrial and consumer products. The automation equipment can also be repurposed to produce other types of masks and non-mask products such as HVAC filters.

Novo Textile Company LTD dba Novo Textiles, Coquitlam, BC

Partner: Harbour Technologies, Windsor, Ont.

Novo Textile has partnered with Harbour Technologies to manufacture the first made-in-Canada N99/PFE99 and N95/PFE95 automated machine to produce cup-shaped molded respirators.

The Canadian-designed, engineered, and fabricated automation equipment will be used to manufacture N99 and N95 cup shaped molded surgical respirators at Novo’s head offices in BC.

The new equipment will provide customized flexibility to modify materials and mask fit.

Molded Precision Components (MPC), Oro Medonte, Ont.

Partner: Niigon Machines Ltd., Vaughan, Ont.

MPC and Niigon will develop new advanced manufacturing techniques to create systems capable of producing and packaging hand sanitizer and similar liquid products in a continuous process.

MPC is developing an Advanced Manufacturing Business Park (MediCA Park) to secure Canada’s health care supply chain that will include companies that can collaborate to offer a complete ecosystem solution from raw material to finished product, warehousing and priority distribution.

Within MediCA Park, the group of companies will be capable of meeting Canadian demand for medical products under routine operation and in times requiring expedited or extraordinary response. MediCA Park will become the home of the hand sanitizer manufacturing facility, as well as MPC’s advanced injection moulding operations for medical components and products.

Providence Therapeutics Holdings Inc., Toronto, Ont.

Partner: Northern RNA Inc., Calgary, Alta.

Providence and Northern RNA are working on the development of a made-in-Canada COVID-19 mRNA vaccine and are seeking to expand Providence’s vaccine manufacturing capacity in Canada.

This project will establish mRNA vaccine manufacturing capacity within Canada and build a raw material supply chain that supports a new industry, pending successful clinical trials and Health Canada approval.

Titan Clean Energy Project Corp., Craik, Sask.

Partners: Panther Industries Inc., Davidson, Sask., BIG-nano., Waterloo, Ont., K+S Potash Canada, Saskatoon, Sask., and Canada Masq, Richmond Hill, Ont.

The companies are developing a process that will build a 100 per cent Canadian supply of biodegradable melt-blown fabric for use in PPE and HEPA filters.

This project will produce biodegradable melt-blown resin and fabric that is comprised of 100 per cent renewable Canadian biomaterials, replacing the highly polluting fossil-fuel derived resins that are currently imported from Asia, Europe and the U.S.

The benefits include reduced air pollution, a lower carbon footprint, and improved and biodegradable N95 masks and HEPA filter products.

Carmina De Young Fashion Design, London, Ont.

Partners: LifeCycle Revive, Brantford, Ont., and LifeCycle Health, London, Ont.

The companies are developing a self-contained, sustainable supply chain for 100 per cent Canadian-made disposable isolation gowns and related PPE such as coveralls, masks, caps and foot covers.

The lifecycle approach involves reclaiming polypropylene waste from hospitals and reprocessing, using treatments to remove contaminants, ensuring the product is safe and meets Health Canada standards and certifications.

The recycled material will be made into a non-woven textile that is the source material to produce disposable PPE produced by CY Health, a division of Carmina de Young.

Artofix, Longueuil, Que.

Partner: Roswell DHT, Calgary

Artofix and Roswell will produce a high-quality N95 respirator in response to the global demand for PPE. The Artofix N95 respirator, using Roswell’s meltblown filter material, is made of hypoallergenic materials sourced in Canada and provides a unique shape and seal that provides users with a reliable and comfortable fit.

The core supply chain for the Artofix N95 mask is entirely Canadian and will bolster Canada’s strategic supply of essential inputs for PPE.

With the development of automated production lines, the consortium will build a collaborative production chain which will reduce costs, increase flexibility and improve product quality.

International Point of Care (IPOC), Toronto

Partners: Precision Biomonitoring Inc. Cambridge, Ont., Immune Response Diagnostics Inc., Etobicoke, Ont., and Suncor Energy Inc., Calgary

The companies are working to expand the capacity of the IPOC advanced manufacturing facilities to cope with increased demands of COVID-19 biological reagents and assay components, which are used in the manufacture of several antigen, virus and serology tests.

Reagents are critical to all diagnostic tests, but platforms have remained unchanged for 30 years. Through novel technology applications, the consortia aims to improve the performance, stability and production capacity of novel test systems and reagents.

The BIG-nano Corporation., Waterloo, Ont.

Partners: Swenco, Waterloo, Ont., IPC Technologies dba Prescientx, Cambridge, Ont., APC Filtration, Brantford, Ont., and Titan Clean Energy Project Corp., Craik, Sask.

These companies have developed a project to develop melt-blown nanofibre filter material for the production of PPE and air purification filters. Compared to conventional microfibre filter media, nanofibre filter media has higher filtration efficiencies, longer filter life and provides easier breathability.

This project will use BIG-nano’s technology to reduce Canada’s reliance on foreign suppliers for critical nanofibre melt-blown material by developing material.