Province Brands of Canada, the company that is developing the world’s first beers brewed from the cannabis plant, will collaborate with the University of Western Ontario to research innovative yeasts. Financial support for the project will come from a $45,000 research grant from Ontario Centre of Innovtion’s (OCI) Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP) program and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Alliance program (previously NSERC Engage for universities).
Based in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Province Brands undertakes research and development in technologies that have applications across the cannabis and adult beverage industries. The company’s first technology that will be commercialized is a technique for crafting fermented beverages brewed from cannabis in place of grains or barley, to create a less harmful alternative to alcoholic beers.
With $45K in R&D funding, Province Brands will create unique beverages brewed using only four ingredients – cannabis, yeast, hops, and water.
The OCI VIP program and the NSERC Alliance program, which will help offset the project’s costs, support R&D collaborations between companies and publicly funded universities and hospitals to foster innovation in Canada.
NSERC Grant & OCI Grant to Fund Groundbreaking Research
Over the past two years, Province Brands has developed a patent-pending process for brewing a premium beer from the cannabis plant. The first steps in the brewing process, milling and “mashing,” require specialized equipment not found in existing breweries, meaning that the resulting product is unique.
Through OCI and NSERC funding, researchers hope to develop yeast that significantly reduces processing time for formulation of cannabis and hemp beers. Province Brands and Western expect the yeast will have applications in other areas as well.
Dooma Wendschuh, CEO and Co-Founder of Province Brands, said,
“We are developing an entirely new brewing tradition. Not only will this technology help Province Brands and those who choose to brew in our new tradition, but once the patents have been approved, we can share this yeast with the brewing community and well beyond.”
Province Brand’s hemp and cannabis-infused beers are alcohol-free, in accordance with Health Canada regulations. Because the beer is brewed from cannabis, rather than barley, it is also gluten-free, as well as low in calories and sugar. Additionally, it uses parts of the cannabis plant that would otherwise have no commercial value, thereby reducing waste.
Canadian regulations governing cannabis edibles and beverages came into effect as of Oct. 17, 2019, but companies must provide a 60-day notice to Health Canada before selling these products domestically.
Innovation Funding for Research Collaborations
NSERC Alliance grants support university researchers collaborating with private-sector, public-sector, or not-for-profit organizations. Researchers can receive $20,000 to $1 million per year from the NSERC grant, for projects from one to five years in duration.
Community & College Innovation Program – NSERC Engage helps give innovative Canadian companies access to the knowledge, expertise, and capabilities available at Canadian colleges. Applicants can receive up to $25,000 over a period of six months to support project costs.
OCI’s Voucher for Innovation and Productivity program helps companies develop, implement, and commercialize technical innovations through partnerships with post-secondary institutions. The post-secondary partner can receive between $20,000 and $150,000 in funding.
VIP projects should generate economic benefit for companies in Ontario (including new jobs, increased revenues, investment attraction, cost savings, and value chain development).
To learn more about funding for industry-academic research partnerships, please download Mentor Works’ Collaborative Research Project Guide.
Updated: March 15, 2021.