Thirteen Ontario companies are introducing innovative new products and strengthening their position in the marketplace after receiving innovation grants through the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre's (ATCC) Accelerating Innovative Research (AIR) Program, delivered by Bioenterprise Corporation.
The AIR program was created to help companies, innovators from Ontario's universities and colleges, and industry organizations fill knowledge, technical, business or entrepreneurial gaps in order to accelerate adoption of new agriculture and agri-food technologies.
A total of $510,000 was granted, with each of the following organizations receiving between $30,000 - $50,000 to commercialize innovations, enhance competitiveness and strengthen Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sectors.
Oat & Mill
Oat & Mill is an Ottawa-based company that makes creamy frozen desserts from oats as a non- dairy, vegan alternative to ice cream. The company was founded by Candace Tierney, a lactose- intolerant ice-cream addict, who was looking for non-dairy alternatives to the soy, coconut and almond-based treats on the market. Support from the AIR program helped Oat & Mill optimize the flavour and nutritional value of its oat-based recipes.
Established by microbiologists with a passion for beer, Escarpment Laboratories produces a variety of liquid yeast cultures for craft breweries and the home brewing market. With support from the AIR program, the Guelph-based company demonstrated it provides consistent, high- quality production over several generations of yeast product reuse.
Nature’s Wave Inc.
Based in Milverton, Ont., Nature’s Wave develops and markets natural dietary supplements for the poultry, equine and swine industries. Funding from the AIR program supported a project aimed at conducting comprehensive trials of the company’s Eberglo product in egg-laying operations, boosting sales and marketing efforts, streamlining logistics, and assessing methods for adding Eberglo to dry feed.
The Chufa Co.
Founded by Andrea Orazi and Scott Abraham in 2014, The Chufa Co. makes non-dairy, vegan frozen desserts and beverages that are also high in fibre and protein. The secret ingredient? Tiger nuts — which aren’t really nuts at all, but marble-sized tubers of sedge grass. These “nuts” are called chufa in Spain, where they’re a traditional ingredient in horchata de chufa, a sweet, creamy drink that Orazi fell in love with while in Barcelona. AIR program funding helped The Chufa Co. to scale up development of a tiger nut beverage in collaboration with the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre at Niagara College.
Local Line Inc.
This Kitchener-based business provides a direct link from farm to fork with an e-commerce and logistics platform that connects restaurants and chefs with local producers of meat, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables. Local Line Inc. provides farmers with easy access to new markets and streamlines the ordering process for area restaurants. With support from the AIR program, Local Line developed a new software solution for fulfilling special orders.
Beef Improvement Ontario (BIO) / AgSights
With roots in Ontario’s beef industry, this Elora-based producers co-operative promotes the use of technology and information sharing to enhance food traceability and boost the bottom line for producers. The AIR program supported a project focused on developing client-driven enhancements to the bioLinks information management system.
Mirexus Biotechnologies Inc.
Guelph-based biomaterials company Mirexus is making its mark in the cosmetics industry with PhytoSpherixTM, an all-natural nano-material made from tiny particles of glycogen extracted from sweet corn. Non-toxic, water soluble and biodegradable, it has exceptional water- retention properties that make it an ideal moisturizing and anti-aging ingredient for skin care products. The company’s AIR project focused on optimizing the methods involved in processing and handling the corn used to make PhytoSpherixTM.
Club Coffee LP
Toronto-based coffee roaster, manufacturer and distributor has been developing compostable single-serve coffee pods. The AIR program supported Club Coffee LP’s to demonstrate and test the compostability of its PurPod100 in collaboration with municipal governments in Toronto and Ottawa as well as U.S. cities. The project added to evidence that the pods break down in municipal food/organic waste diversion programs.
VIVE Crop Protection Inc.
Based in Mississauga, Ont., Vive Crop Protection Inc. develops new ways for farmers to use trusted crop protection products more effectively and efficiently. Vive’s innovative Allosperse® delivery system improves the targeting and performance of the active ingredients in fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. Funding from the AIR program enabled VIVE to complete product chemistry and toxicity testing required to obtain U.S. regulatory approvals for two new fertilizer-compatible pesticide formulations.
Crazy D’s Soda Lab
Toronto entrepreneur Darren Portelli has taken the guilt out of one of life’s guilty pleasures - soda pop. Crazy D’s Soda Lab produces fun, fizzy prebiotic beverages pop that are also good for you, providing sweet-tasting refreshment without all the added sugar or artificial sweeteners found in regular pop. Support from the AIR program enabled Crazy D’s to pilot a commercial- scale run and product test shelf life.
Transport Genie Ltd.
New technology developed by this Guelph-based company is designed to ensure that livestock and poultry are treated humanely during transport by monitoring microclimate conditions inside livestock trailers. The AIR program supported development of a prototype system that provides real-time data about the welfare of the animals being transported.
University of Western Ontario
A Western University research team led by Prof. Paul Charpentier is investigating ways to enhance productivity of commercial greenhouses by applying a zinc oxide coating to the transparent film that covers the structure. The AIR project assessed the light-enhancing effects of the zinc oxide coating on photosynthesis and growth rates of green algae in a commercial greenhouse setting.
Researchers at Conestoga College developed a new way to turn soybeans into tempeh, a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soy. It’s similar to tofu but dry, firm and chewy rather than wet, soft and spongy. Supported by the AIR program, the researchers worked with a Kitchener-based food processor, Henry’s Tempeh to develop a commercial-scale process for fermenting soybeans into a new tempeh product.
AIR program funding was provided by Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.