Organigram CEO talks investments, innovation
March 22, 2021 By Mari-Len De Guzman
Greg Engel is optimistic a cannabis R&D centre of excellence in Moncton, N.B., will create opportunities for home-grown skilled professionals who might have left the province to seek opportunities elsewhere.
“We will be hiring, we’re going to be expanding the staff and hiring new people,” Engel tells Grow Opportunity, anticipating the work that will be required once the new centre of excellence has been established. “I think that’s an exciting part where people may have had to go elsewhere in the country or even in North America… to be able to attract people, to be able to find a role like this in their home town or region has been great.”
Through a recent US$175-million investment from and a significant collaboration agreement with the British American Tobacco (BAT), Organigram will develop a new centre of excellence within its Moncton facility that will conduct research and development on new, innovative forms of cannabinoid delivery, with an initial focus on THC and CBD.
“It’s game changing for us as a company,” Engel says. “Both companies (BAT and Organigram) will bring in intellectual property into that agreement.”
The BAT agreement also opens up new market opportunities for the New Brunswick LP, both in North America and globally. BAT is a multinational consumer goods company based in London, with operations across Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North America.
One of the highlights of the joined centre of excellence, is the technical and scientific expertise it will potentially bring to the table, Engel said.
“The great part of what we’ve been doing as well is we’ve seen over time a lot of either trades or researchers, R&D people (from New Brunswick) that have gone to jobs elsewhere in the country and we’ve been able to attract people to return home – whether it’s in the trades within our facility or some of the R&D positions – that are from Atlantic Canada originally and wanted to come back. That’s been a big part of our success. And now with this innovation hub we’re going to be expanding that even further with the centre of excellence,” Engel explained.
Organigram is focused on strategic investments in innovation, according to Engel. One of these investment priorities is on biosynthesis, which the chief executive says has tremendous potential for the future of cannabis products.
“We’re one of only two companies that invested in biosynthesis. We’ve invested in a Canadian company called Hyasynth which has a platform for producing cannabinoids from yeast fermentation…we believe in the future that has tremendous potential especially on minor cannabinoids that are found in very low levels of the plant to produce those in high volumes where you can actually create new and innovative products or supplement existing products with them.”
Since 2018, Organigram has injected $7.5 million into Hyasynth. Engel says Hyasynth’s work on THCV, a psychoactive cannabinoid that’s reported to have appetite-suppressing effects, is promising with “tremendous potential both recreationally and as a medical product as well.”
More on Grow Opportunity’s interview with Greg Engel on the latest episode of Grow Opportunity The Podcast.
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