Interest is growing around the world for natural health products and functional foods that can improve well-being. Experts predict the global market for these products will triple to more than $600 billion by 2020.

Edmonton-based company Radient Technologies is tapping into this demand with its novel processing technology. Radient is able to supply international pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, functional food and cosmetic companies with high-value ingredients derived from biomass, for formulation into other products.

An initial investment by Alberta Innovates played a key role in helping the now-thriving company develop and scale its technology into the marketplace, along with support from other players in the research and innovation ecosystem.

Radient is able to produce high quantities of extremely pure natural ingredients at low cost in its 23,000-square-foot contract manufacturing plant in the Alberta capital, which opened in 2014. Radient uses the world's only microwave-assisted processing technology to extract bioactive ingredients from a range of biological materials including hemp, flax, milkweed, valerian and rosemary.

The $12-million plant was built with $1.2 million funding support from the former Alberta Innovates Advanced Materials and Chemicals program. Radient also received support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; the University of Alberta Agri-Food Discovery Place; Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; Alberta Economic Development and Trade; and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"The support received, from financial assistance to technical expertise to international trade missions to investor and partner introductions, has been critical to our success," said Denis Taschuk, president and CEO of Radient Technologies.

Since 2014, Radient has secured $37 million in private funds to explore application of the technology in a range of industries, as well as opportunities to license its technology. The company raised an additional $34 million in private funds to triple the size of its existing Edmonton plant, with the aim of increasing production capacity by five times. It plans to start construction of a similar-sized plant in Germany, with production anticipated by the end of 2019.

Much of this outstanding growth stems from enactment of the federal Cannabis Act in October 2018. Radient plans to become a commercial licensed producer of medical cannabis oil and anticipates a 1,000 per cent increase in sales to $30 million. It already has two cannabis products and a contract with medical cannabis producer and distributor Aurora Cannabis Inc., which owns a controlling stake in HempCo Food & Fibre, one of the largest industrial hemp producers in the world.

"Despite our challenges in hiring senior bioscientists and although our customers are mainly international, we pay homage to Alberta's investment in us and plan to keep a big presence in the province as we grow," Taschuk says.

As North America's largest producer of hemp, Alberta farmers are well-placed to supply Radient with feedstock. The future looks bright for Edmonton's budding natural health products cluster. This sector will take a jump forward with Radient's expansion.[The Radient Technologies plant pictured above uses the world's only microwave-assisted processing technology to extract high-value ingredients from biomass for natural health products, including medical cannabis oil from hemp (pictured in header).]