Agricultural innovation incubators get another year of funding

Bioenterprise invests in early-stage businesses, especially in agriculture and food

Two innovation incubators have received additional funding to support early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs and especially those in agriculture and food.

Bioenterprise Corporation and its delivery partner Innovation Guelph were awarded $2.28 million by FedDev Ontario to deliver the Bioenterprise Seed Fund and Innovation Guelph’s Fuel Injection program which provides seed funding and access for specialized industry expertise to start-ups and entrepreneurs in southwestern Ontario, for another year.

Why it matters: The funding will help Bioenterprise to continue to help agriculture startup companies which will bring news services and products to farmers.

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Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield made the announcement at the inaugural Innovation Expo in Guelph Nov. 15.

“Starting a business is knowing who can help you – and people know that Guelph is a hotbed for innovation,” Longfield said.

The latest funding announcement follows an initial 2016 investment by FedDev of $4.84 million that helped launch the two innovation programs delivered by Bioenterprise.

To date, 115 companies have received support, creating more than 135 new products, services and processes and generating approximately 37 million in new revenue and private sector investment.

“This is all about partnerships, and our goal is to find the best innovation we can in agriculture, agri-food and agtech, whereas Innovation Guelph has a bit of a broader mandate,” said Bioenterprise CEO Dave Smardon.

The newly announced funding will support approximately 50 new start-up companies in agri-technology, sustainable and environmental technologies, advanced manufacturing and social innovation.

The Innovation Expo was a showcase of some of the many businesses and entrepreneurs who have benefitted from Bioenterprise and Innovation Guelph support, from those still in the early stages right through to those who have already realized some commercialization success.

Some more well-known southwestern Ontario recipients include:

  • Mirexus Biotechnologies – biotechnology company producing sweet-corn derived glycogen that is a key ingredient in personal care, cosmetic and anti-aging products.
  • Quinta Quinoa – research, development and marketing of new quinoa varieties suited to the Canadian climate
  • Rootham Gourmet Preserves – producer and co-packer of gourmet sauces, jams and dressings using local ingredients
  • AgriBrink – on-the go tire pressure adjustment system for farm equipment to decrease soil compaction and boost soil health (see at bottom)
  • Energrow – on-farm oilseed pressing and filtration to help lower feed costs

The expo included a wide variety of food-based products, including tiger nut-based ice cream, vegan and organic foods, as well as products and services related to sustainable production, and minimizing food and resource waste.

Bioenterprise is a national agri-tech commercialization accelerator initially started in Guelph that focuses primarily on businesses and opportunities in the agricultural sector.

The accelerator has garnered an eight to one return on invested dollars, helped launch about 2,000 technologies generating $268 million in revenue.

It received a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence in 2017 and a Gold Leaf Award for Ecosystem Builder from BIOTECanada also in 2017.

AgriBrink and its tire pressure adjustment system is one company that has received Bioenterprise funding
photo: Lilian Schaer

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