9 Agricultural Players that are Shaping the Future of Food in Northern Ontario

Looking back on Canadian Innovation Week: Celebrating 9 Bioenterprise partners in Northern Ontario and how they’re shaping the future of Agriculture in Canada

Posted: Jul 4, 2023

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Canadian Innovation Week in Northern Ontario 

Canada is bursting with great agricultural ideas. Some of them are local, affecting small remote communities. Some are reshaping our entire food ecosystem.

In 2020, Bioenterprise launched Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine to create a national and united innovation ecosystem for the sector. The goal: unlocking Canada’s homegrown innovation potential by supporting the commercialization of promising tech solutions for both primary agriculture and throughout the food supply chain, boosting our international standing as a leader in agricultural innovation. 

When innovation strikes in agriculture, it lets us do more with less. In the north this can mean less space, shorter growing seasons, less access to resources, or less centralized infrastructure. So at the macro level a focus on new technologies and processes in precision agriculture, vertical farming and livestock management are changing how we grow, transport, and connect our food system.  

When the Rideau Hall Foundation launched Canadian Innovation Week in 2018, agriculture may not have been the first industry the public would associate with new and exciting opportunities and technologies. Yet as Canadian Innovation Week aims to shine a spotlight on the people and organizations developing technology to improve the lives of Canadians, there is no doubt that sustainability and food security will be key areas of development for Canada’s future as a world leader.

As the demand for sustainable and locally sourced food continues to rise, Northern Ontario is emerging as a hub for exactly those innovations in Canada. So to celebrate Canadian Innovation Week, here are 9 partners that we work with throughout Northern Ontario. Let’s explore how each of them works with Bioenterprise to help shape the future of agriculture.

Northern Ontario Angels


Fuelling the entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in Northern Ontario, Northern Ontario Angels are helping agricultural businesses positively impact our lives with their extensive network of angel investors and experienced mentors.

“If you have a game-changing idea in agri-tech, Northern Ontario Angels are here to help you take it to the next level. With our expertise and network of investors, we can provide the resources you need to bring your idea to market and positively impact the agriculture industry.” 

BioNorth Solutions

BioNorth Solutions 1

BioNorth Solutions is a biotech company that is shaping a greener future. The Thunder Bay-based business is on a mission to solve environmental problems through innovative products that help to clean contaminated water and soil. 

BioNorth Solutions was selected as a recipient of the Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative (OAFRI) Commercialization Stream. Through funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments from 2018-2023, successful applicants received up to $150,000 in non-repayable acceleration financing to transform agri-food research ideas into leading-edge technologies.

“BioNorth Solutions is focused on soil health. We utilize microbes to perform environmental reclamation of contaminated lands, converting contaminants to neutral by-products which render the land and water decontaminated. We also have created products to enhance plant growth, simultaneously regenerating the soil and improving the microbial ecosystem. Our technologies are green and cost-effective.”   

Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre


Since 1999, the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre (NOIC) has focused on all things innovative. NOIC assists new start-ups and in supporting innovation in the agriculture sector throughout Northwestern Ontario. 

“The Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre plays a significant role in supporting innovation in the agriculture sector throughout Northwestern Ontario. By providing funding (SNAPP), advisory services, food labeling, and packaging workshops, NOIC helps to sow the seed of innovation in agriculture.”

Innovation Initiatives Ontario North 


Based at Canadore College in North Bay, Innovation Initiatives Ontario North (IION) assists innovative entrepreneurs, start-ups and existing companies develop and scale. IION works collaboratively with a variety of strategic partners throughout the province to promote client growth and help to position them for future success.

“IION supports innovative companies at all stages and sectors, including agriculture and food/beverage. IION assists companies to develop and scale their innovations through business advisory services, unique in-house funding programs and access to industry experts and resources, market research and B2B networking.”

Link North 

Link North Timmins EDC EN 1

Link North is a Timmins-based regional innovation centre supporting innovative entrepreneurs and businesses across far northeastern Ontario.

“Small businesses are driving innovation in the agri-food sector. We see commitments to food security and regenerative agriculture practices, foraging locally for natural health remedies, and vertical farming cultivating year-round produce. Our new partnership with Bioenterprise is helping support this innovation across our region.”

Canadore College

Canadore College EN 1

Canadore College supports its agri-tech partners with their genomics capabilities for biodiversity, microbiome analysis, and species identification. They’re also researching climate-resistant methods and sustainable technologies for food sovereignty. Their off-grid hydroponic pods can improve health outcomes for rural & Indigenous communities.

“Canadore College is helping to advance innovation in agriculture in several ways: 1) Supporting our agri-tech and agri-food partners with our genomics capabilities which support the sequencing of samples to examine ideas such as biodiversity, the microbiome make-up, and plant and species identification. We also have climate-resistant and sustainable technologies to research production methods that limit environmental harm while seeking to create food sovereignty for rural and Indigenous communities. This includes utilizing well-established research partnerships to conduct nutritive testing that compares store-bought versus hydroponic to showcase off-grid hydroponic pods as an opportunity to improve health outcomes for these communities or associations that support the examination of plant transcriptomics.”

Collège Boréal

College Boreal EN 1

Collège Boréal is committed to a sustainable future by advancing innovative agriculture. Their research focuses on horticultural crop optimization, soil reclamation, biodiversity, sylviculture, forestry by-products, and aquaculture. The Sudbury-based college is focused on protecting the environment and ensuring healthier food for future generations.

“To protect our environment and ensure healthier food for future generations, developing innovating agriculture has become essential. Collège Boréal is proud to help its northern Ontario partners address this challenge thanks to leading-edge research specializations such as horticultural crop optimization and diversification, soil reclamation and biodiversity, sylviculture, forestry by-products, and aquaculture.”

Nipissing University 

Nipissing U 1

Nipissing University is helping to advance innovation in agriculture by enhancing research related to water quality and forestry in Northern Ontario. Their Greenhouse Complex is undergoing upgrades to welcome new projects related to water quality due to climate change and environmental disturbances.

“Nipissing University is helping to advance innovation in agriculture by enhancing research related to water quality and forestry in northern Ontario. Our Greenhouse Complex is currently undergoing upgrades to welcome new projects related to water quality due to climate change and environmental disturbances. Further, the Forest Resources Laboratory’s research aims to provide scientific knowledge to support the sustainable development of new forestry products in northern Ontario. Through these and other projects, Nipissing University strives to continue to build its capacity and infrastructure to make meaningful and innovative contributions to the agricultural sector.” 

Lakehead University

Lakehead U 2

Lakehead University’s Agricultural Research Station (LUARS) is driving innovation in Northern Ontario’s agricultural community and beyond! Through research and extension services, LUARS supports farmers and enterprises, uncovering economic growth potential. From experimenting with seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides to exploring management methods, we’re pioneering new techniques.

“Through research and extension services, Lakehead University’s Agricultural Research Station (LUARS) supports the agricultural community in Northern Ontario and beyond. The Station has discovered new economic growth potential for nearby farmers and enterprises by experimenting with various seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, and management methods. For instance, LUARS research led to the introduction of canola to the area, which significantly enhanced agricultural profitability. LUARS is open to assist businesses looking to test and market novel fertilisers and other cutting-edge agricultural techniques through small plot research and testing. – Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President of Research and Innovation.”

In conclusion, the agricultural landscape in Northern Ontario is undergoing a transformative shift driven by innovation and a commitment to sustainability. As Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, Bioenterprise is pivotal in supporting and commercializing tech solutions that are revolutionizing the sector. The collaboration between Bioenterprise and its partners, Northern Ontario Angels, BioNorth Solutions, Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre, IION, Link North, Canadore College, Collège Boréal, Nipissing University, and Lakehead University, is shaping the future of food in the region. These organizations are fostering entrepreneurship, promoting soil health, providing funding and advisory services, conducting research, and developing cutting-edge technologies to address the unique challenges faced in Northern Ontario. Through their collective efforts, they are driving the growth of sustainable agriculture, enhancing food security, and positioning Northern Ontario as a hub for agricultural innovation. The future of food in Northern Ontario is promising, thanks to these visionary agricultural players and their commitment to shaping a greener and more prosperous tomorrow.

For more information:

Emily Nanne, Bioenterprise Canada Regional Manager, Northern Ontario
emily.nanne@bioenterprise.ca or 613-858-4606

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