The local forest sector is harnessing opportunities to innovate thanks in part to Northern Development Initiative Trust’s Forest Innovation Fund.
Within eight months of announcing the new funding program, $486,744 (97% of available 2016 funding) was approved to support the deployment of innovative technologies and new or improved products to help optimize the fibre supply in central and northern B.C. The funding was committed to 12 projects in communities throughout the region, including: Prince George, Smithers, 100 Mile House, McLeod Lake, Hixon, and Valemount.
In March, the Trust announced the Forest Innovation Fund, committing $1 million in funding over a two-year period for small and medium-sized companies and community forests engaged in resource extraction, resource processing and supply chain activities related to the forest sector. The second tranche of funding, totalling another $500,000, will be made available for new projects in 2017.
A broad spectrum of innovative projects have been funded to date, ranging from technologies for proactive fire mitigation and new steep slope harvesting methods to biofuel extraction and the utilization of diversified forests to support tourism growth.
The Forest Innovation Fund provides 50% of a project’s budget to a maximum of $50,000 in grant funding. Companies must be privately owned, have fewer than 500 employees, annual revenue of less than $100 million and be based within the Trust’s service area to be eligible for the funding. Applications for 2017 are being accepted now.
Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust
“There was a clear funding gap for the development of innovation in the resource sector. We are thrilled that this program is already supporting small and medium-sized businesses taking on projects to help with pine beetle recovery and support jobs that are the backbone of our local economy.”
Shirley Bond, MLA Prince George-Valemount
“Encouraging research into innovative technologies and new uses for our forest-based resources helps our communities not only address mountain pine beetle damage, but will keep our forest industry competitive and sustainable.”
Larry McCulloch, President and General Manager, LM Forest Resource Solutions Ltd.
“Small firms like ours rarely have pockets that are deep enough for significant capital expenditures for research, and yet we generate some of the best ideas for adaptation and improved technologies. The Trust’s funding for our project was essential in our decision to take on this important work… something we believe has the potential to affect all of us here in the north.”
- Dollars for the Forest Innovation Fund is being allocated from Northern Development’s $26 million Pine Beetle Recovery Account
- Since 2005, Northern Development’s Pine Beetle Recovery Account has been utilized to support 279 projects throughout the region, totalling nearly $26 million in funding
- Local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations in pine beetle impacted areas can access funding support for community projects through the Pine Beetle Recovery Account
- The Trust expects up to $2.5 million in grant funding will be approved through the Pine Beetle Recovery Account in 2016 to support communities and businesses
- The Forest Innovation Fund will complement the Province of British Columbia’s Forest Enhancement Society which will be supported with $85 million in funding
- Application guides and forms can be downloaded here: http://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/business-development/forest-innovation-fund/
Some of the projects funded to date:
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Northern Development Initiative Trust