First of its kind cannabis R&D facility opens

Published on January 5, 2021 by David Wylie

The Okanagan is now home to one of the most advanced cannabis cultivation facilities in the world.

Licensed producer The Flowr Corporation announced Tuesday the completion of the first cannabis research and development facility of its kind in North America.

The facility is expected to be operating at full capacity this spring, and Flowr has already received the required licences from Health Canada.

The company started construction on the facility two years ago. It’s located on Flowr’s campus on the border of Kelowna and Lake Country. The new facility is set to advance indoor cannabis cultivation techniques and systems.

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It’s part of a strategic alliance with Hawthorne Gardening, a division of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.

“Completing the industry’s only dedicated R&D facility gives us a distinct advantage. We will leverage Flowr’s cultivation expertise and our technical capabilities into real world testing and results that will make a difference to growers,” says Chris Hagedorn, senior vice-president and general manager of Hawthorne.

“Flowr is also one of a few companies that have had experience growing diverse genetics in different countries.”

The R&D facility includes state-of-the-art laboratories, indoor grow suites, and training areas. There, Flowr will test cannabis growing systems and techniques with Hawthorne’s advanced lighting, fertilization and irrigation systems, growing mediums, and research protocols.

Lance Emanuel, Flowr’s president and the interim CEO, says the work done at the facility will be imperative to the company’s entry into U.S. cannabis market – once it’s permissible.

The operations will be led by Dr. Deron Caplan, the company’s director of research and development. He’s the first person in North America to earn a PhD focused on cannabis cultivation and production.

It will be staffed by Flowr scientists, five of whom have PhDs in various plant biology, plant genetics and plant biochemistry disciplines.

In an interview late last year – shortly before stepping down for personal reasons – former Flowr CEO Vinay Tolia said this is the last significant expansion that’s currently planned for the Okanagan.

“We don’t want to be like some of these other cannabis companies that really overbuilt their facilities,” he said. “For any business to survive long-term it’s got to profitable, so if we want to keep growing in Kelowna and make everyone happy that’s got to be our main priority.”

Also published with permission on The Daily Courier.