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PwC Up front | Issue 5 | Harnessing technology

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Page 42 of 55

Up front Summer 2014 41 On the cutting edge Pierre Lapointe pushes FPInnovations' world-leading research and development efforts far beyond the forestry sector By Matt O'Grady The leaders When Pierre Lapointe was asked to take the helm of FPInnovations in late 2008, the forestry sector was in crisis. The organization was only a year old, born as a result of four distinct industry-based research institutes having merged in 2007, their individual memberships unwilling and unable to support all four. But then the fi nancial meltdown of 2008-09 hit, and the very future of forestry in Canada was in doubt. "The RBC guys came into my offi ce for six months to supervise us because the fi nancial situation was so diffi cult. We had fun," recalls the President and CEO of FPInnovations, with a chuckle. That was then; this is now. Today, Montreal-based FPInnovations is one of the world's leading research organizations in the natural resources sector, advising similar groups around the world and partnering with industry giants such as Domtar Corp., Kruger Inc. and West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. to produce the eco friendly materials of the future. The organization is introducing advanced forest products and forestry technologies to whole new markets, including the mining and agricultural sectors. "The difference between fi ve years ago and today? Government ministers and industry leaders engage us directly when looking to the future of the sector," says Lapointe, a trained geologist. "They understand and appreciate the value and expertise we bring to the table and our role as a catalyst for innovative ideas throughout the sector." The key to FPInnovations' success lies in its name – innovation – and Lapointe's commitment to lead an innovative organization that's not about preserving the status quo but embracing and driving change. "The innovation is not only doing cost reduction and process improvement, but doing new products and new processes," he explains. "We need to fi nd new applications for the wood fi bre resource to get to the next level. Making two-by-fours is really easy. Making cross-laminated timber and producing 135-metre span bridges and 30-storey towers – that's something else." The innovation goes far beyond building infrastructure faster and stronger, two key advantages of the cross-laminated timber (CLT) technology that FPInnovations is pushing. This engineered product uses multiple layers of wood, each one crosswise to the next, to increase dimensional stability and strength in framing systems. But FPInnovations is also developing a whole new language for business development in forestry. "I can speak French, I can speak English, and I can speak politics," says Lapointe, who spent the fi rst 17 years of his career at Natural Resources Canada before heading l'Institut national de la recherche scientifi que (INRS) and, ultimately, FPInnovations. PETER HOLST Up front Summer 2014 41

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