Funding flows to Canadian cannabis research projects

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Despite the generally poor economic environment and the tight financing facing cannabis businesses, two cannabis innovation projects based in Canada have secured new funding.

Hyasynth Biologicals—a six-year-old, Montreal-based biotechnology company that produces sustainable products through fermentation—announced it has received a $2.5-million milestone payment for its commercialization achievements in being the first to market cannabidiol (CBD) produced and extracted from yeast.

The additional investment came from previous investors, including Organigram Holdings of Moncton, New Brunswick.

Hyasynth produces CBD without the need for cultivation and extraction from cannabis or hemp plants.

Cannabinoids produced by fermentation are expected to provide huge benefits in cost, quality, and sustainability versus plant cultivation and extraction. Unlike other production methods, fermentation results in natural, bio-based products and final ingredients that are pesticide and GMO-free.

Hyasynth’s technology can be scaled through partnerships with fermentation facilities that already exist worldwide and promises to provide a reliable option for the global supply chain.

“This milestone funding will allow Hyasynth to scale its production process to larger scales,” said the company’s CEO, Kevin Chen.

In British Columbia, a research project aimed at improving cannabis cultivars will receive part of $10 million in funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada through Genome Canada.

The project, entitled Fast-Track Breeding of Powdery Mildew-Resistant Cannabis, is being led by Loren Rieseberg and Marco Todesco of the University of British Columbia and industry partner Greg Baute, senior director of breeding and genetics at Aurora Cannabis. Their work will address a need to identify the desirable breeding traits, including resistance to powdery mildew infection, that current cannabis cultivars lack.

Genomic resources will be created to allow the project team to characterize sources of genetic resistance to powdery mildew and begin to introduce them into Aurora’s cannabis breeding program.

According to Genome British Columbia, improved cannabis cultivars will result in reduced losses to pathogen contamination and increase product quality. The breeding pipeline itself will also be used in the future to identify other important production and high-value traits, and to create new cannabis cultivars with superior agronomic performance.