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Succinic acid. Never heard of it, right?

Everyday items from furniture to clothing to cosmetics depend on chemical building blocks. Most of us aren't familiar with the names of these chemicals or even how they find their way into our belongings in the first place. But BioAmber does. And BioAmber knows that the majority of these chemicals come from fossil fuels.

And so it's time for us to get excited about plant-based succinic acid. That's the biochemical alternative that BioAmber develops near the banks of the St. Clair River in Sarnia, Ontario. Substituting fossil fuels with plant-based sugars, the company is offering a key chemical building block with a fraction of the environmental impact. It's a $10B market opportunity that Canada could be at the forefront of.

Going up against the Goliaths.

After getting its cutting-edge bio-technology past the research and development stage, BioAmber opened its first commercial plant near the banks of the St. Clair River in Sarnia, Ontario. 

The plant was built using a combination of private capital, low-interest loans from the provincial and federal governments, and direct funding from Sustainable Technology Development Canada. It was a chance to prove that their technology not only had an environmental edge but could also go toe to toe with the big petroleum-based chemical suppliers.

With over 70 customers in 17 different countries, that bet has paid off. And now to supply the fast-growing global marketplace that it has entered, BioAmber needs to "scale up". That means expanding its current plant. That requires a lot of upfront money, only some of which private investors can be depended on to provide.

What now?

Bioamber’s innovation is just one example of the suite of capital-intensive new technologies that will be needed to build the energy, transportation, building and industrial systems for a successful low-carbon economy. Finding ways to finance the scale-up and growth of these emerging technologies and firms is a challenge, but one that offers big rewards.

Accelerating clean innovation in Canada means helping bright ideas "scale up" to meet global market demand. Find out how through Smart Prosperity's work on Accelerating Clean Innovation.

Also: Watch BioAmber's Sarnia plant being built in a 1-min timelapse video.