Meet Bioenterprise Canada’s sustainable innovation sponsor, Aramark
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian lives are touched daily by a company most have never heard of. That’s Aramark, a global food service and facilities management company that is responsible for serving people at venues ranging from schools, post secondary institutions and hospitals to sports facilities, office buildings and remote mining or fishing operations.
The company has a strong interest in sustainability both in its internal operations and across its entire supply chain. Innovation will play a key role in helping the company expand its sustainability goals and ambitions, which is what led them to becoming a Bioenterprise Canada sustainable innovation sponsor.
“We’ve been trying to figure out how Aramark can proactively support communities through our purchasing power, like local food programs,” says Michael Yarymowich, Director of Sustainability at Aramark. “So instead of waiting for distributors to tell us what they have available, we want to be able to identify and connect with up-and-coming innovators and technologies that are coming into the marketplace.”
Many small or emerging companies aren’t yet ready to serve the big volumes that Aramark needs for its institutional clients and could use a helping hand from someone in the business. That could mean making an introduction to a food service distributor, helping with health and safety standard compliance, or offering advice on distribution channels – which Aramark is well positioned to provide.
“Small companies face many barriers to market, and we’d like to be able to work with them early on to see if we can help them overcome some of those challenges,” he says. “We don’t want exclusivity to their products or to hamper their growth. We want to do more to support local communities so for us, part of the value is to be the first one in – giving innovators a helping hand, tracking their progress and telling their story.”
This is a new venture for Aramark, and it’s where the connection with Bioenterprise, Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, and their new sustainable innovation initiative is proving to be a value-driver.
The Bioenterprise team, for example, has facilitated introductions to some of the innovative start-ups participating in regional accelerator programs at Zone AgTech in Montreal and Platform Calgary, and Yarymowich is now working with them to discover what they need to access the Aramark market. To help with that process, Aramark’s procurement and marketing teams are developing a system to help evaluate innovations with a systematic, consistent approach.
“These are new opportunities we wouldn’t have known about without Bioenterprise. At a practical level, it’s hard to keep continuous tabs on the innovation pulse, and Bioenterprise is the bridge to making that happen for us,” notes Yarymowich. “This has tuned us into some really great marketplace innovations and now we’re able to put together a scope of work with interested partners to help them grow and get into the markets.”
The goal of this regional approach to sustainable innovation by Aramark is to support local communities by supporting local food entrepreneurs, and as they grow, work towards making their products available nationally. The initial focus is on Aramark’s food business, but Yarymowich also sees future opportunities with the company’s group purchasing service division.
“We are looking for opportunities where we can make some positive change overall, and Bioenterprise is an organization that has been dedicated to something for a long time that we were just starting to tune into ourselves,” he notes. “Our hope is that once we find some things that we wouldn’t have found on our own, we have the opportunity to make a positive impact on some elements of the food system in the institutional market specifically.”
Bioenterprise Canada is Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, bringing more than 15 years of industry experience and a national and international network of research institutions, academia, mentors and experts, government, and industry to help small and medium-sized businesses in the sector nationwide Connect, Innovate, and Grow.
To learn more about the Engine’s sustainable innovation commitment and examples of novel, sustainable innovations its programs support, or to become a Bioenterprise sustainable innovation sponsor, visit https://bioenterprise.ca/sustainability/ or contact Carla Berquó, firstname.lastname@example.org or 519.821.2960 ext. 205 / 1.866.464.4524.