Original article published in Kingston Economic Development
When Mississauga-based battery recycling company Li-Cycle™ needed help to avoid what industry experts call “the valley of death”, their journey led them to Kingston. “We needed to iterate our product fast, as it takes a lot of time and resources to go from ideation to commercialization,” says Ajay Kochhar, the company’s president/CEO and one of its cofounders. “The FUSE partnership has saved us years.”
Lithium-ion batteries are a Nobel Prize-worthy innovation, but what do you do with them once they stop holding a charge? That’s the foundation of Li-Cycle’s business – recycling spent lithium-ion batteries and recovers their materials for reuse in battery production. This work requires the right combination of facilities, permits, process development support, and employees to handle this sensitive work.
Enter FUSE, a partnership between GreenCentre Canada and Kingston Process Metallurgy offering companies access to state-of-the-art lab space as well as PhD-level talent. GreenCentre Canada is a Kingston-based not-for-profit focused on helping early stage sustainable chemistry and materials companies get through their challenging early development stages. Meanwhile, Kingston Process Metallurgy focuses on assisting companies scale-up and improve their manufacturing processes.
Together, FUSE allows clients like Li-Cycle, which now maintains a demonstration plant in Kingston, to quickly develop their products and processes without the need to purchase and staff expensive chemistry facilities. “We have the local infrastructure already in place, and the ability to recruit highly trained graduates from Queen’s University and other academic centres gives our clients a huge advantage,” says Dr. Brian Mariampillai, Director of Business Development for GreenCentre Canada. “With FUSE, we’re able to attract and support these newly hatched businesses who need chemistry, design, and process support so that they can ultimately develop and grow their business through attraction of investment and talent.” “The concentration of chemical process development expertise and facilities in our area rivals the top centres in the world,” adds Boyd Davis, a co-owner of Kingston Process Metallurgy. “We feel our collaboration with GreenCentre and our combined infrastructure, knowledge, and experience is a unique offering that will help companies in a very meaningful way.”
The City of Kingston, Kingston Economic Development Corporation, and other organizations have since added their support for FUSE to help attract Chemtech companies to Kingston and communicate the strength of services and talent in the region. “Chemistry touches so much of the products and problems we encounter every day – from food, to pharmaceuticals, to climate change,” says Andrew Bacchus, Business Development Officer for Emerging Sectors with Kingston Economic Development. “Through FUSE, we hope make Kingston a leading hub that will attract companies that are solving real global problems. This has the right ingredients to become something we can be very proud of.”