Quebec City, November 16, 2022. – On October 19 and 20, 2022, in Rivière-du-Loup, was held the 1st edition of the Forum Innovation sur la Bioéconomie au Bas-Saint-Laurent (FIBEQ BSL), organized by the CRIBIQ in collaboration with the four ACCORD niches of excellence in the Lower St. Lawrence: Acéricole (maple syrup), Écoconstruction (ecoconstruction), Ressources, Sciences et Technologies marines (marine resources, sciences and technologies) and Tourbe et substrats (peat and substrates). This very 1st regional edition of the provincial initiative FIBEQ (Forum Innovation sur la Bioéconomie au Québec) established by the CRIBIQ in 2019 brought together 150+ participants from the industrial, academic and economic development fields united by the desire to learn more about the innovations and hidden potential of bioresources in the Lower St. Lawrence.
Based on three pillars – the territory (St. Lawrence River, forests, peatlands), knowledge (concentration of R&D expertise related to the bioeconomy) and communities (culture of innovation and collaboration) – the Lower St.Lawrence bioeconomy is solidly established through five promising sectors: maple syrup production, ecoconstruction, peat and substrates, marine biotechnologies and bio-food. In 2018, it accounted for $1.1 billion in GDP, representing ≈ 5.2% of the GDP generated by the Quebec bioeconomy, and supported more than one in ten jobs in the region – that is, 10,200 jobs – representing ≈ 5.7% of the jobs generated by the Quebec bioeconomy. The region also has four niches of excellence (listed above) with specific recognized competencies stemming from the ACCORD approach of the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Energy (MEIE), all of which are closely linked to the Lower St. Lawrence bioeconomy.
During the two days of discussions on the themes surrounding the Lower St. Lawrence regional bioeconomy, participants explored the various avenues offered by the established sectors of maple syrup production, horticulture, agriculture and forestry, which have a high potential for added value, as well as the opportunities offered by emerging sectors such as ecomaterials, local products (e.g.: the mycology sector) and marine resources and biotechnologies. The 1st edition of the FIBEQ BSL was also an opportunity to discover innovative industrial projects presented by passionate entrepreneurs with significant economic benefits for the region.
The Lower St. Lawrence is undeniably a strong supporter of the Quebec bioeconomy. In addition to its existing niches, the region has seen the emergence of structuring initiatives over the past few years to support its economic development, including the Synergie Bas-Saint-Laurent project for the implementation of industrial synergies in the Lower St. Lawrence (circular economy), the creation of the "Espaces régionaux d'accélération et de croissance" to facilitate exchanges, dialogue and collaboration between all players in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the establishment of the Collectif régional de développement du Bas-Saint-Laurent thanks to the collaboration of the eight regional MRCs.
These concerted efforts between all its stakeholders allow for the sharing of knowledge and expertise related to the various sectors of economic activity as well as to ensure excellence in innovation and the development of bioresources; promote the growth of businesses in both traditional and emerging sectors; and maintain the competitiveness of regional industries on the local and international scenes, all from a sustainable development perspective.
Finally, on the occasion of the 1st edition of the FIBEQ BSL, participants attended the unveiling of the study entitled: "Portrait of the bioeconomy in the Lower St. Lawrence – The symbiosis between territory, knowledge and communities". This study was conducted by the AGÉCO Group, mandated by the CRIBIQ in collaboration with the four ACCORD niches in the Lower St. Lawrence region. It aimed to allow the region to better understand the bioresource ecosystem characterizing its territory and to guide the next phases of its (bio)economic development!
REGIONAL BIOECONOMY MODELS AT AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL – THE POWER OF TERRITORIES FOR A SUSTAINABLE AND COMPETITIVE BIOECONOMY
Johan De Coninck, Bioeconomy For Change's renowned Director of Networks, Business and International Development, made us see the bioeconomy as a source of business and job creation, with applications that go far beyond the current uses of food and energy! Our international speaker also presented it as a way to revitalize a wide range of rural territories in decline, and as an important element in the fight against climate change! Finally, De Coninck taught us a lesson on how to reduce the complexity of the regions' territorial development mechanismsin order to identify the potential of local resources!
PANEL – POSITIONING THE LOWER ST. LAWRENCE REGION IN RELATION TO OTHER REGIONS OF QUEBEC
Martin Beaulier (SOPER), Pierre Talbot (Premier Tech), Guillaume St-Onge (Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski, Université du Québec à Rimouski) and Sylvain Dufour (Espace d'accélération et de croissance du Bas-Saint-Laurent), who have been working for several years in the fields of research, economic development and innovation, helped us to better understand the issues and challenges that the Lower St. Lawrence region is facing in regards to various sectors related to the bioeconomy. Our stakeholders also shared with us their observations regarding the portrait of the bioeconomy in the Lower St. Lawrence region as highlighted by the AGÉCO Group.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LOWER ST. LAWRENCE SERVING THE BIOECONOMY
The bioeconomy in the Lower St. Lawrence is based on three pillard, one of which is knowledge. In this sense, our speakers Bertrand Genard (Iso-BioKem), Lorraine Blais (Solutions Novika), Réjean Tremblay (Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski, Université du Québec à Rimouski), Mélina Guêné-Nanchen (Université Laval), Frédéric Caron (Premier Tech), Stéphanie Boudreau (Créneau d'excellence Tourbe et substrats), Habib Horchani (Groupe de recherche en environnement et biotechnologie, Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup), Steve Joncoux (LLio – Laboratoire en innovation ouverte, Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup), Séraphine Dupont (Biopterre), Pape Diouf (SEREX), Pascale G. Malenfant (MRC de Kamouraska) and Maxim Tardif (Biopterre) introduced us to the expertise of the Lower St. Lawrence region in the biobased economy as well as the results of collaborations between businesses and economic development organizations. They also showcased innovative projects related to microalgae, peatland restoration, environmental biotechnologies, building insulation and mushrooms, and described the implementation context, the development stages, the partners and the economic benefits for the region.
CHALLENGES IN THE LOWER ST. LAWRENCE REGION IN TERMS OF FOOD PROCESSING AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY
The Lower St. Lawrence region stands out when it comes to the development of its agri-food and agro-forestry sectors. However, a ton of challenges remain when it comes to food processing. In this light, during this block of conferences, the general manager of the Centre de Développement Bioalimentaire du Québec, Charles Lavigne, allowed our participants to see the issues more clearly thanks to his undisputed expertise in the field of food processing, followed by our panelists Maude-Alex St-Denis-Monfils (Table de concertation bioalimentaire du Bas-Saint-Laurent), Vincent Banville (Centre de Développement Bioalimentaire du Québec), Élise Gosselin (Novalait), Steve Joncoux (FABRégion, LLio – Laboratoire en innovation ouverte, Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup), Vallier Robert (Domaine Acer) and Jennifer Morissette (Centre de recherche sur les biotechnologies marines), who discussed the stakes and opportunities of the biofood sector in the Lower St. Lawrence.
PECHA-KUCHA SESSION – GIVING A VOICE TO INNOVATIVE COMPANIES AND PROJECTS
Motivated by a desire to innovate and honour the natural resource in its entirety, many companies in the Lower St. Lawrence are taking advantage of bioresources to bring out their hidden potential. During this pecha-kucha session, our speakers Samuel C. Fortin (SCF Pharma), Jean-Michel Lavoie (Chaire de Recherche Industrielle sur les Technologies Acéricoles), Marc Charland (Les Tourbières Bergée Ltée), Cyril Roblet (LLio – Laboratoire en innovation ouverte, Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup) and Gilles Couturier (Uniboard) introduced us to innovative initiatives that have been/are being done in the Lower St. Lawrence region as well as to innovative projects that combine genius, creativity and know-how!
CIRCULAR ECONOMY: THE POTENTIAL FOR THE LOWER ST. LAWRENCE REGION
With the objective of participating in the redefinition of linear modes of production-consumption, the regions of Quebec are increasingly interested in the circular economy and are developing cutting-edge expertise on this subject. These expertises developed in the Lower St. Lawrence were highlighted by presenters Stéphanie Jagou (CERIEC), Luc Massicotte (Synergie Bas-Saint-Laurent), Alexander Reford (Les Jardins de Métis), Sébastien Lange (Biopterre), Martin Poirier (OrganicOcean) and Maxim Tardif (Biopterre) during the conference block entitled: "Circular Economy: The Potential for the Lower St. Lawrence Region".
THE LOWER ST. LAWRENCE: A FERTILE GROUND FOR ENTREPRENEURS
The Lower St. Lawrence region is overflowing with regional organizations and research centers working to develop innovative businesses throughout its territory. Evelyne Thiffault (Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval), Guy Viel (Centre de recherche sur les biotechnologies marines), Frédéric Caron (Premier Tech) and Jacques Boucher (Créneau d'excellence Acéricole, Club d'encadrement technique en acériculture de l'Est) showed us how, by promoting the growth of local innovative companies, the Lower St. Lawrence succeeds in ensuring the region's entrepreneurial development while modernizing its economy!