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Okanagan College gets $1.75M grant for wine, beer innovation

A photo of BC Beverage and Technology Access Centre team members from left to right; Ben Isaksen, Sonja Loyd and Janice Acio.
A photo of BC Beverage and Technology Access Centre team members from left to right; Ben Isaksen, Sonja Loyd and Janice Acio.
Image Credit: Okanagan College

Okanagan College has received a $1.75 million grant from the federal government to aid innovation in the beverage industry in BC.

Ben Iskasen has worked in the beer industry in London and as a sommelier at Big White Ski Resort, and now he works at the BC Beverage and Technology Access Centre at Okanagan College's Penticton campus, according to an Okanagan College media released issued, June 14.

“The BC Beverage and Technology Access Centre at Okanagan College provides a range of services to the beverage industry. We do everything from solving biochemical issues with a particular drink, to working with them to get their beverages to market,” Isaksen said in the release.

Okanagan College’s beverage centre is one of several recipients of funding given out by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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The $1.75 million grant is going to go to the college’s innovation program.

“This is incredible news for BC’s beverage industry and for Okanagan College,” Okanagan College’s president Dr. Neil Fassina said in the release. “BC BTAC has partnered with many different wineries, breweries, distilleries, cideries and other producers to innovate and respond to very specific and complex challenges. We’re thrilled to be able to continue working together, and to continuing to involve OC students in BC BTAC’s research and collaborative activities.”

In addition to this new grant the federal government renewed its funding commitment to the beverage centre to the tune of $100,000 per year for the next five years.

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“The BC Beverage and Technology Access Centre at Okanagan is at the forefront for beverage technology – an important part of the Okanagan region,” Minister of Post-Secondary Education Lisa Beare said in the release. “We are delighted to see the continued partnership of Okanagan College with students and industry to build a stronger B.C. and benefit B.C.’s beverage industry.”

The beverage centre has numerous experts with knowledge in chemistry, chemical engineering and microbiology, as well as experts and advisors in business development and other related fields to take B.C. booze from fermentation to innovation.

“We love working in and with the beverage industry in this province, solving problems and ultimately contributing to their success and to the education and experience of Okanagan College students,” Isaksen said. “We look forward to continuing for years to come.”

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