Circular Economy Seed Funding (submission is closed)

UBC under coordination of the Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI), with support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), has launched a seed funding program to advance the Circular Economy in British Columbia (BC) through joint efforts by UBC researchers and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The fund will support university-industry projects that aim at encouraging circularity over the life cycles of materials and products. This can be achieved by, for example, creating a new supply chain through joint material innovation/replacement, modifying designs/processes/services to extend the useful life of current products, and adopting new business models to reduce waste and improve energy saving and reuse. The outcomes of these short-term projects are deemed to facilitate long term collaborations between academic and industry partners through other sources, e.g., Mitacs, NSERC, etc., to invoke higher impact on developing the circular economy in BC and beyond.

Abbas Milani
Professor, School of Engineering, Okanagan Campus
Director, MMRI
James Olson
Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Point Grey Campus
Dean, Faculty of Applied Science
Rehan Sadiq
Professor, School of Engineering, Okanagan Campus
Associate Dean, Faculty of Applied Science


Janice Larson
Director, Tri-University Partnership, UBCO VPR Office
Richard Sones
Director, Industry Partnerships
Faculty of Applied Science
Mahdi Takaffoli
Research Engineer


Bryn Crawford
Research Engineer
Maria Holuszko
Assistant Professor, Urban Mining Engineering, Point Grey Campus
Emily Cranston
Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Point Grey Campus

The emerging circular economy around the globe is deemed to provide some answers to the great challenges facing humanity: world population is on pace to reach 9.4 billion by 2050; middle class population is expected to hit 4.9 billion by 2030; energy use and greenhouse gas emissions will rise by about 50%, and demand for water will be 40% higher than supply in the next 20 years. Moreover, the amount of raw materials, extracted by humans from the Earth, has tripled in the last four decades alone; a growth which is not sustainable. All these alarming challenges call for an economy that meets the needs of the people with less impact on the environment and more efficient use of natural resources. Transitioning from the current dominant linear economy (take-make-consume-discard) to the circular economy—which emphasizes the importance of turning end-of-life goods into resources or extending the service life of products through repair and refurbish—is becoming the necessity of our future.

Examples of services to SMEs in the realm of the circular economy. Given the diverse expertise and research facilities across UBC, the potential areas of support to SMEs through the current seed funding program are plentiful. A few example topics are listed here: How companies can close the loop with their products to reduce the waste they are sending to landfill? What circular business models is more suited to a given company? How reverse logistics can help companies transition to a circular enterprise? How companies can impact the consumption culture in support of the circular economy? How companies can keep products and materials in use for as long as possible to get the maximum value from them? How asset sharing can help regional companies to become more circular? How the products design can be modified to ensure less waste and more repairability/recyclability? How the needs of the companies to raw materials can be fulfilled through sustainable ways? How companies can benefit 3D printing technologies to streamline their prototyping process and reduce waste materials to make finished parts? How smart manufacturing and sensor integration in the production line can help the company improve its efficiency? How product quality and requirements can be fulfilled when fossil-based raw materials are replaced with sustainable and recycled materials?

Further information about the circular economy approaches can be found in the example links below:

Re-thinking Progress: The Circular Economy (Video)
The Circular Economy: New Relationship with Our Goods and Materials
A Circular Economy for Plastics in Canada
Circular Economy: The New Normal?
Getting to a Circular Economy: A Primer for Canadian Policymakers

UBC faculty members from both Point Grey and Okanagan campuses in partnership with their BC industry partners are invited to submit their applications to this program. Involving university and industry collaborators from other regions of Canada and internationally are also highly encouraged.

• Deadline: Round 2 of proposal submission is now closed.
• Application review and funding decision will be made within about a week after submission.
• Due to limited funding, early proposal submission is highly encouraged.
• Faculty can apply to multiple projects, but each SME is limited to one project.
• Funding availability:

Stream 1: Maximum $5,000 per project when a sole SME partner is involved.

Stream 2: Maximum $10,000 per project when two or more SME partners are involved, e.g., for building a new value- or supply-chain relationship.

• All proposals to be eligible must clearly state:

-What is the current state of their product/process “waste” (e.g. does it go to the landfill or cause excessive energy use?)

-How the proposed technical solution will potentially reduce this material/energy waste through circular strategies? Without clearly explaining these criteria the application will not be considered within the scope of this program and should be rejected immediately due to ineligibility.

-What is the SME plan and capacity to use the result of this project in the long-run towards commercialization of the proposed technical solution?

Program guideline (Latest revision: Feb 21, 2020)
Application form

Please direct any inquiries to:
Mahdi Takaffoli, MMRI Research Engineer
Phone: (250) 807-9108

Funded Projects

Repurposing Petroleum Coke Waste from Alberta Oilsands for Supercapacitor Technology

Atlas Power Generation, Mission, BC
Dr. Jian Liu, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Antifouling Membranes for Ammonia Recovery from Liquid Waste Streams

Boost Environmental Systems, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Jongho Lee, Civil Engineering, UBC

Wood-Chip Based Infill Wall System

R.J.P. Holdings Ltd., Kelowna, BC & Hammer Construction Management Ltd., Kelowna, BC
Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Ammonia Recovery from Anaerobically Treated Food Waste

Andion Technology, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Jongho Lee, Civil Engineering, UBC

Improved Oxygen Barrier in Compostable Bioplastics

G-Pak Technologies, Surrey, BC
Dr. Zachary Hudson, Chemistry, UBC Okanagan

Fabrication of Solar Units from Waste Plastics

Manufacturing Automation Laboratories, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Sustainable Approach for Utilizing Textile Waste as Reinforcement in Wood Ash Treated Soil

FabCycle, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Sumi Siddiqua, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Recyclable Protective Stents for Head and Neck Cancer Radiation Therapy

Schell Dental, Kelowna, BC & Argen Canada, Kelowna, BC
Dr. Sepideh Pakpour, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Rubber Devulcanization: Potentials towards Circular Economy in Rubber Industry

Circular Rubber Technologies, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Development of Electrically Semi-Conductive and Conductive Nanocomposites from Polyvinyl Chloride Waste

Mustang Survival Corp.
Vancouver, BC & Native Shoes, Vancouver, BC

Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Biochar Desiccant Sachets: Repurposing Waste to Create a Compostable, Carbon-Negative Solution

Nyoka Design Labs
Comox, BC & Core Landscape Products

Dr. Rudolf Seethaler, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Compostability of Building Materials

Recycling Alternative, Vancouver, BC & Regenerative Waste Labs Inc., Vancouver, BC
Dr. Cristina Zanotti, Civil Engineering, UBC

Utilization of Recycled Polyols, Derived from PET, in Green Polyurethanes

Polymer Research Technologies, North Vancouver, BC & PolyChem Consulting Solutions, North Vancouver, BC
Dr. Parisa Mehrkhodavandi, Chemistry, UBC

Sustainable Alternatives for Boat Hull Materials

SV Business Group Inc., Vancouver, BC
Dr. Abbas Milani, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Innovative Waste-to-Energy Technology for Co-Composting Wood Waste Biomass and Food Waste into a Valuable Soil Resource

Build A Better Earth (BinBreeze), Victoria, BC
Dr. Sumi Siddiqua, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Improving Electrical and Mechanical Properties of Biodegradable Polymers

Plantee Bioplastics, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Developing Lignin Nanofiber Mats from Poplar Wood for Manufacturing of Compostable Disposable Surgical Masks and Respirators

Advanced BioCarbon3D (ABC3D), Trail, BC
Dr. Abbas Milani, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Improving the Manufacturing of Sustainable Wool Dryer Balls through Automation, Sensor Integration and Analytics

TALU Specialty Imports, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Rudolf Seethaler, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Lignin-Derived Porous Carbon for All-Solid-State Lithium-Tellurium Batteries

Fenix Advanced Materials, Trail, BC & Advanced BioCarbon 3D Ltd., Trail, BC
Dr. Jian Liu, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan

Initiative supported in part by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP):