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Lethbridge Rural Innovation Forum September 25th, 2015 

Purpose: To bring southern Alberta private industry, economic development authorities, municipalities, researchers and academia together to build on existing bio-industrial resources and enable business collaboration 

Hosted by Lethbridge County in collaboration with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta, the Agriculture Research Council, and Sustainability Resources Ltd. 

This Forum connected over 50 people from private industry, economic development authorities, municipalities, researchers and academia together to build on existing bio-industrial resources and enable business collaboration. It was an opportunity to share, learn, and identify emerging projects that address greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater reuse, and waste to energy. These types of projects have potential to drive economic growth of the agricultural sector and to provide innovative infrastructure solutions for communities.

Topics & Presentation Themes

  • Water use and Reuse
  • Bio-industrials – Scalable “technologies”
  • Agriculture Waste as a Feedstock
  • Benefits of Bio-clusters
  • Emerging Policy & Regulatory Changes
  • Alternative Energy Solutions 

Emerging Themes and Opportunities

The Town of Raymond is managing municipal and agricultural waste from the town and surrounding area. There is not one answer, as multiple technologies exist to add value to waste streams. Beyond finding a solution, educating the public and government on waste separation and partnering with existing regional/private operations are important steps.

Thiebane poppies are a genetically modified form of poppy superior traditional poppy crops for medical extraction. The crop is currently not approved for production in Canada though it’s permitted in other nations, such as Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, and others. Regulatory approval requires federal and provincial coordination to de-regulate the controlled substance and Health Canada buy-in will be needed as well.

Feedlot and slaughterhouse waste is being management by many owners and facing many issues. There has yet to be a conversation around joint efforts (private and community) to add value to their waste streams. There is an opportunity to take combined waste from feedlot and the community into some type of energy development process. The conversion facility must be close to the wastes. A broader understanding of available and potential technologies

Lethbridge County is looking for a purpose for plastic. Plastic is used to store grain for silage. The bags are huge and difficult to manage, but the County loans out a bag roller for producers to roll up the bags. The County has tried to ship the bags to for processing but they are too dirty for processing into pellets by Green Acres Hutterite Colony or Merlin Plastics and now they are being landfilled. A Province- or Nation-wide tariff on the bag price could help cover the cost associated with this waste. Changing to a more biodegradable material could help and provide more options for value-added processing. Harnessing a technology like that from Enerchem may also be feasible and would provide for value-added ethanol at the end of processing.

Round Robin Feedback and Take-Away Ideas 

  • The whole concept of co-location to form bioclusters (the bioclusters effect) is about efficiencies in energy, feedstocks, supply and transportations, as well as maximizing economic return and the potential to eliminate many issues with logistics.
  • Networking between regulatory bodies and entrepreneurs is important to ensure ease of market entry for innovators, and streamlining regulatory processes for new solutions
  • These events provide a fun great opportunity for exposure and making powerful connections between regulatory bodies, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
  • There is a lot of passion, enthusiasm, and momentum for bioenergy and the bioeconomy in Alberta – need more opportunities to expand capacity to accelerate projects together.
  • A varied, interdisciplinary approach to problem solving and taking the time to hear opinions from the other side of the table will yields more results.
  • The key to a thriving bio-industrial clusters is leadership at the local and provincial levels.
  • Wastewater, algae, and potable water treatment are very relevant topics right now for rural communities dealing with the challenges of water and wastewater upgrades
  • Big companies may have R&D needs,  but may not be aware of all the players in Alberta’s bioindustry and the opportunity to capitalize on work already being done by academia and groups like Alberta Innovates Tech Futures or the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta.
  • So many synergies come from colliding ideas.
  • Solutions are created when diverse groups of people come to the same table to solve the same problem. We all have and share a common goal and we all have innovative tendencies.
  • Hope this will be only the start. We should leverage the intelligence, ideas, and momentum to turn southern Alberta into another hub for the bio-economy!

Presentations Available for Download!


Sustainability Resources

      Lethbridge County   RINSA


To learn more, or to express an interest in hosting one of these Innovation Forums in your community, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Rural Prosperity Initiative

Accelerating Rural Economies

  • Identify, evaluate and implement projects that can reduce GHG
  • Reduce waste & improve and retain the supply of clean water
  • Accelerate economic development, attract investment
  • Identify opportunities and challenges of climate change
  • Create energy independence through clean energy generation

Rural Innovation Forums

Showcase solutions for Rural Prosperity - network with solution providers! 

Lethbridge Rural Innovation Forum

Lesser Slave Lake Rural Innovation Forum

Drayton Valley Rural Innovation Forum

Okotoks Rural Innovation Forum

Wheatland Region Rural Innovation Forum

 Learn more! 

Rural Prosperity Initiative Partners