Chinese firm looks to hire former Plasco employees in Ottawa expansion

A Chinese clean-tech company is setting up an branch plant in Ottawa and has its eyes on Plasco’s displaced talent.

Aplas Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of plasmafication company China Tianyang, incorporated and set up a small administrative office in Kanata last year, with the assistance of Invest Ottawa.

It’s developing solid waste plasma gasification technology, often touted as a way to turn cleanly turn garbage into energy.

While there are only a few employees there now, Invest Ottawa’s Asia market director Sophie Chen says the company has plans to hire a minimum of 30 people to run a laboratory.

Chen says she continues to work with Aplas, searching for a lab facility with approximately 10,000 square feet of space for research and development, and hosting job sessions to find the right talent.

Much of the Ottawa appeal, Chen says, is the talent pool present in the city, especially in the wake of local plasma company Plasco Energy’s collapse.

The Ottawa-based company was founded by Rod Bryden and raised more than $230 million in equity financing. It built a demonstration plant on Trail Road in 2008 and signed a contract to process the city’s garbage but missed several deadlines to secure additional financing and ultimately filed for bankruptcy protection in early 2015.

In September 2015, Bryden bought the company for $1 in a transaction that included its intellectual property, but not the Trail Road facility, and said at the time that he still hopes to build a commercial facility.

Plasco employed some 160 Ottawa employees as recently as 2014, according to OBJ’s Book of Lists, and many of those individuals are still in the city, Chen says.

“In terms of why (Aplas) came here, the decision-making process, there definitely was a focus acquiring the talent that was dismissed by Plasco a while ago,” she says.

Aplas’ work with plasma will extend beyond the scope of Plasco; Chen says the market in China already has a great deal of demand for the technology. The company will utilize the research and development benefits that Canada offers to develop plasma technology based on the home country’s needs.

“Anything they produce here, will have good impact on the China market,” Chen says. “This is a good example to show Ottawa really is the place to go for conducting research, for foreign companies setting up in Canada.”