When a group of experienced firefighters in eastern Ontario wanted to come up with a way of making their profession more environmentally friendly, they turned to Ontario’s network of organizations that help turn such ideas into marketable products. The result was FireRein, a new company that produces an additive that mixes with water in the fire hose to form a gel that can quench the blaze with as much as 90 percent less water than might otherwise have been required.

The founders of FireRein would not likely have claimed to have any particular skills in chemical engineering, but Queen’s Industry Partnerships connected them with Kingston, Ont.-based GreenCentre Canada, which was created in 2009 to make such a skill set more widely accessible. “We can provide them with the facilities and the scientific and engineering expertise that they’re going to need to get their innovation into the field,” says GreenCentre’s interim executive director Lyle Clarke, noting that this facility also has a service agreement with the Xerox Research Centre of Canada in Mississauga, Ont. “We can do proof-of-concept and optimization science in Kingston and when it’s ready to move toward commercial production, advance it to the field pilot stage at our scale up facility in Mississauga.”    

GreenCentre operates as a Sector Innovation Centre within the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, handling problems and inventions with a chemical dimension that could become the foundation for new enterprises like FireRein. Clarke invites small and medium size enterprises, entrepreneurs and academic researchers to apply for assistance with the technical and business challenges of dealing with the complex path to commercial reality.