BioNeutra didn’t just attract investment. It also attracted the attention of former Edmonton mayor Bill Smith, who now serves on the company’s board of directors. When Dr. Zhu asked him to join the board, Smith quickly saw the potential. “[BioNeutra] sounded new, young, and exciting,” says Smith. He saw the company’s potential for growth, a promise that has certainly paid off.
In fact, Zhu says one of the best things about his early days at ATC was how easily the centre was able to accommodate the company’s rapid expansion, from one of the building’s smallest spaces into a larger lab and then a commercial pilot facility at Research Centre One in the Edmonton Research Park. “We spent about 10 years in the Edmonton Research Park, and they helped us so much,” says Zhu.
BioNeutra became profitable in 2012, went public in 2014 and was listed on the TSX Venture Exchange in 2015. It has only continued to grow since then.
A Canadian awards leader, Bioneutra has been named to the Globe and Mail’s Top 1000 publicly traded companies four years in a row and received three export awards from the Alberta Chambers of Commerce and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. Last year, it cracked the top 60 in its first Canadian Business magazine ranking — the country’s most highly regarded business ranking of the fastest growing companies.
The company uses contract manufacturers in Indonesia and China. Last fall, it brought a new 45,000-square-foot Edmonton production plant on line to meet the ever-growing demand for VitaFiber, which is used by 200 different international companies to make healthy protein bars, beverages, yogurt and ice cream.
Looking forward, Zhu is optimistic about expanding sales of BioNeutra both at home and abroad. The company is making major marketing pushes in Asia and Europe, and is looking to open other production facilities globally.
This story originally appeared in a slightly different form on the Advanced Technology Centre website