When MIT-trained entrepreneur Chad Joshi developed a method for producing lubricants and motor oils from plant and animal fats, he sought to find a partner to help develop his new technology. Extending his search past the established innovation ecosystem in his hometown of Boston, Dr. Joshi and his team established themselves at Innovation Park in Kingston, where their partnership with Queen’s University has provided opportunities for innovation, research and growth.
“Innovation Park at Queen’s has been important, not just because of lab facilities, but because of the proximity it creates between people who are taking risks and trying to change the world,” says Dr. Joshi, CEO of Altranex. “In our first three years, Altranex found most of its early employees, research collaborators, professional service providers and business partners through connections it made at Innovation Park.”
Queen’s researchers have also been active with Altranex; enhancing their conversion techniques and helping the company explain and quantify the environmental benefits of their products over traditional, hydrocarbon-based oils.
“Our team is working with Altranex to better understand the environmental impacts associated with their proposed bio-based lubricant and fuel products, and comparing these products to their petroleum counterparts to quantify net environmental benefits,” says Warren Mabee, Director of the Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy (QIEEP) and Canada Research Chair in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation.
“Our work has produced an optimization tool for life cycle assessment which has the potential to be useful in determining best practices for new, bio-based industry. In partnering with Altranex, our team gets immediate feedback on how useful our research is, which helps us to focus our research while responding to immediate industry needs.”
Recently, Altranex entered into a license and marketing agreement to build a bio-refinery to produce and market renewable lubricant base oils and other products with Minnesota Soybean Processors (MnSP). The agreement opens up greater access for Altranex to the feedstock supply they need to produce their products, while allowing MnSP access to greater research and development capability through Innovation Park.
“Queen’s is delighted to be working with Altranex, whose expertise and networks are a strong fit for our partnership, knowledge mobilization, and commercialization activities,” says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Partnerships such as these create opportunities to help innovative companies breakthrough a crowded marketplace and contribute to our research, the regional economy, and training and career opportunities for students.”
Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines.