When you think about renewable energy, it’s easy to imagine forests full of thriving trees that have recovered from the damages of climate change. What often goes unnoticed at the core of the uptick in expansive renewable energy are the scientists and engineers innovating to make this possible. A tenured company in the world of science instrumentation, OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc., has been evolving alongside the changing tides in the industry for decades and continues to do so on a global scale today.  

 Founded in 1990 by Dr. Jozef Ociepa, OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc. develops surface science analytical instrumentation, including low energy electron diffraction (LEED) and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES). In other words, the company creates physics-based products and develops state-of-the-art instrumentation for nanoscale materials that are used worldwide in physics and chemistry applications. From the onset of his career, Dr. Ociepa has been committed to research, development, and production of high quality analytical instrumentation and has since built a business at the helm of the global innovation of materials at the nano-scale level. Built from the ground up in London, Ontario, OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc. operates its 7,000-square-foot research and development facility in the city while maintaining its global reach as leaders in the industry. “London has been a great location for our company since the very beginning,” says Dr. Ociepa, “When we first started, global access wasn’t as readily available because we didn’t yet have the internet, and so our local support was important for our initial growth.”

Dr. Jozef Ociepa, founder of OCI, pictured next to their latest development.

OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc. is a recent i.d.e.a Fund recipient. Supported by a $10-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the i.d.e.a. Fund is led by Innovation Guelph in partnership with five Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): WEtech Alliance, Haltech, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario. The program helps high-potential ventures access the tools they need to succeed by providing financial and business advisory supports to develop or redesign products, services, processes, and technologies that reduce impacts on the environment and create made-in-Canada solutions. 

 Further developing their lithium diffusion tester and working on a wider range of materials to prove the principle of such application, OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc. used its funding to continue testing and research as well as recruit and employ co-op students. The data gathered on this wider range of test materials has been used to present game-changing techniques for these energy materials at panels and seminars across North America, with the goal to develop more contacts with research and development battery laboratories and provide analytical services based off of OCI’s instruments, eventually selling the analyzer to quality control facilities in lithium battery manufacturing.  

So how does this impact renewable energy? Good question. These materials are a key component to enabling renewable energy, and scientistsand engineers are using the data and innovations created by OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc. to innovate and improve solutions for renewable energy. “The OCI team has been actively expanding their already global reach through online channels that haven’t traditionally been explored,” says Andrew Leest, Manager of Startup Advisory and Venture Growth at TechAlliance. “It has been fascinating to work alongside this team as they invest in lead generation through online marketing in such a niche industry.”  

 With more global investment in renewable energy and an expansion in the approach to innovate with these materials, OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc. is continuing on its successful path of innovating alongside industry changes over decades of learning and doing. As the company does so, its local London community will be cheering it on, thankful to be witness to such ground-breaking technologies coming out of our prosperous and innovation-fuelled hometown.  

To learn more about OCI Vacuum MicroEngineering Inc., go to www.ocivm.com
To learn more about The i.d.e.a Fund, go to techalliance.ca/idea-fund
To learn more about FedDev Ontario, go to https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/feddev-ontario/en