B.C. university backed for food research equipment

Agriprocessing companies and startups in British Columbia’s Central Interior can expect access to new testing and product research equipment through federal funding for the region’s university.

Kamloops-based Thompson Rivers University has picked up about $890,000 in Western Diversification Program (WDP) funding for equipment which until now “has not been available regionally,” the government said in a release Wednesday.

The equipment is meant to help local organizations and industry “commercialize new bioproducts, value-added food products and analytical techniques,” the government said.

The equipment to be purchased includes a low-temperature incubating facility, to help culture and identify bacteria; a “highly complex” mass spectrometer, to identify compounds in solid products; and meat research and development equipment.

The equipment “will support the many local small- and medium-sized enterprises who are closely linked to the agriculture, bioproduct and natural resource sectors,” the government said.

“The new analytical tools enabled by (the federal Western Economic Diversification department) have expanded the capacity and potential of TRU and our region for discovery and innovation,” TRU’s science dean Tom Dickinson said in the release.

“Just as importantly, we are now able to broaden the opportunities for our students to do applied research that leads to immediate and direct outcomes.”

TRU started in Kamloops in 1970 as a community college, Cariboo College, morphing into the University College of the Cariboo in 1995 and TRU in 2004. The university opened a second campus at Williams Lake, about 290 km northwest of Kamloops, in 2007.

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