A joint effort between Georgian College and a Barrie company could see students enter the cannabis-related workforce upon graduation.
MediPharm Labs, which was launched in 2015 and specializes in pharmaceutical-quality cannabis extraction, distillation and derivative products, recently completed a four-month applied research project in collaboration with Georgian College.
MediPharm Labs president Keith Strachan called it a “really interesting project” for his company, which is growing as an employer in the region.
“As the great proactive school that they are, Georgian College reached out to us to look at a number of different initiatives,” Strachan told BarrieToday. “We got linked to a data program there that pitched us on doing this project where they could help us with data collection and process improvement. We provided funding, the college provided some funding and we were able to take on the students to complete the project.”
The goal of the collaboration was to create operational data that provides insights and predictive analytics to help glean the highest purity, potency and efficiency from operations.
The first phase of the project, which has already been completed, established a relational database of original cannabinoid content and potency of cannabis flower inputs tracked through MediPharm's processes related to such things as extraction, winterization/filtration, solvent removal and distillation through to end products.
The students aren't testing the product themselves, but they are using the extraction data from the plants that the company uses to fill a larger database. Strachan said that can be a multitude of information when you're dealing plants.
“Because we’re working with a plant, everything is really batch to batch with unique attributes to each batch," Strachan said. "The theory was, because every plant that you extract is a little bit different, perhaps your manufacturing parameters should also be altered.
"They ran different strains through the extractor at different pressures and temperatures, and they would take the data to see what our efficiencies were," he added.
The students created a custom database and provided MediPharm with the new information, which Strachan said will help provide the company with solutions to make them more productive.
Students work at MediPharm's John Street site for the program.
Strachan believes having a partnership with the college is a great thing for local manufacturers.
“It's a massive opportunity for us to have that technological-minded college here in Barrie,” he said. “It's really helpful for us as a manufacturer to have access to the resources at the college, whether it be the program itself, existing staff or the students coming out of those programs to come work for us.”
In a MediPharm news release, Georgian College's research, innovation and entrepreneurship director Mira Ray credits the students with providing the local company with much-needed data information.
"The faculty and students from our Big Data Analytics program have helped MediPharm establish a strong foundation to collect, analyze and utilize their data for real-time decision-making, process improvements and overall productivity and quality gains," she said.