Food In Canada

CFIN awards $2.5M to eight foodtech projects

By Food in Canada Staff   

Business Operations Canadian Food Innovation Network Editor pick Food innovation Foodtech

Brad Rideout, CEO, Saltwinds

The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) is investing $2.5 million into eight projects, valued at over $5 million through the organization’s Food Innovation Challenge and Innovation Booster Programs. 

The Food Innovation Challenge is a funding opportunity for Canadian food industry collaborators who want to spearhead transformative improvements that will propel the food sector forward and generate significant economic impact. The program prioritizes projects focused on smart product and process development, food ecosystem sustainability, and agile and safe supply chains.

The Food Innovation Challenge funding recipients are Theory Mesh ($1,287,025) and Vivid Machines ($810,920).

TheoryMesh, Winnipeg, Man., is partnering with CubicFarm Systems Corp. and EcoDairy to create a traceable and transparent supply chain for beef and dairy. By connecting all the players and data points throughout the supply chain, consumers will be able to pull up sustainability data on grocery store products using a QR code and ensure the provenance of their food is verifiable at point of sale. 


Blockchain will be used to capture verifiable data at all points within the supply chain and machine learning will be used to optimize the supply chain for sustainability and ensure the quality and safety of consumer products. 

Vivid Machines, Toronto, is working with Algoma Orchard and Blue Mountain Fruit Company to create digital twins of orchards to better determine ideal harvest timings and ensure growers can meet the demands and needs of grocers and food processors. This added insight will also allow packhouses to offer better margins and end user pricing, while optimizing shipping, packing, and storage costs. 

This project will use a unique computer vision and intelligence system that collects and analyzes data across an entire orchard to digitize fruit crops in real time and create a more agile and transparent fruit supply chain. 

Liven Protein ($99,926), Rapid Aid ($99,471), Smallfood ($98,932), Earthware Reusables ($41,075), BioShur ($50,000), and Saltwinds Coffee Company ($57,681) are the recipients of the Innovation Booster funding.

The Innovation Booster provides flexible and rapid support to small or medium enterprises (SMEs) as they address food innovation challenges or technical hurdles that have created barriers to achieving their commercialization goals.

Liven Protein, Toronto, is upcycling food industry side-streams into animal-free collagen ingredients. Collagen ingredients provide functional properties and unique health benefits, which makes them highly valued in the medical, nutraceutical, and food industries. Traditionally, collagen ingredients are of animal-origin, which is associated with several challenges including religious use constraints, food safety, and unsustainability. Liven’s precision fermentation techniques can produce animal-free collagen from raw materials such as glucose, glycerol, and starch. 

This project will focus on optimizing Liven’s bioprocess for upcycling starch streams and test additional side streams in the food industry as a starting material to build a versatile fermentation platform for animal-free protein manufacturing. 

“Liven is thrilled to receive support from CFIN to advance utilization of more sustainable and affordable Canadian raw materials to produce animal-free collagen. Producing functional proteins without animals is crucial for reducing the impact of our food system, and being able to use side streams as raw material will enable Liven’s production to be even more sustainable and affordable,” said Fei Luo, co-founder and CEO, Liven Protein.

Rapid Aid, Mississauga, Ont., is developing a new sustainable packaging solution with biodegradable and recyclable components that will successfully prevent food waste in the meal kit and specialty food sectors. Their eco-friendly food shipper will address a gap in Canada’s food business ecosystem as there are currently no Canadian companies manufacturing off-the-shelf, pre-qualified cold chain shipper systems for the Canadian food market. 

Smallfood, Dartmouth, N.S., is a microbial food and feed ingredient company focused on the commercialization and sustainable production of its SF Whole Cell, a protein and DHA source that is highly desirable to the alternative seafood industry due to its nutritional value and natural seafood flavour. This project will assess the storage and shelf-life stability of SF Whole Cell under different storage and transportation conditions to determine its shelf-life. 

Saltwinds Coffee Company, Douglas, N.B., has created a proof-of-concept carbon capture system that can be used in the exhaust flue of a roaster, capturing the CO2 that is emitted when coffee beans are roasted. This project will explore how to scale the carbon capture system and will refine its composition and form for optimized long-term operation in industrial roasters. 

BioShur, Montreal, is scaling up the fabrication of a bio-based and backyard compostable cling food wrap film that can extend the shelf life of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, processed meats, and cheese by seven to 14 days. This project has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and food waste, while offering a compostable and cost competitive advantage for food companies who currently use existing plastic packaging options. 

Earthware Reusables, Calgary, Alta., has partnered with Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to design, develop and implement a durable and UV resistant food takeout container that can be used as part of Earthware’s return-for-reuse takeout container program, which reduces single-use containers (SUCs) in the local food industry. 

This first-of-its-kind program in Alberta facilitates the collection of the SUCs after the food has been packaged and consumed. Implementing circular systems like this is vital in tackling the national waste and pollution crisis Canada is facing. Positive impacts of this project will not only influence Canada’s food sector, but will also aid in Canada’s transition to net-zero by 2050. 

“These eight projects demonstrate the wide-ranging and impactful innovation that’s happening across the country. Innovative Canadian companies are leveraging frontier technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and IoT to transform our food industry and sustainably change the way food is produced, transported, and consumed,” said Joseph Lake, CEO, Canadian Food Innovation Network.

Over the last year, CFIN has received over 230 applications from innovative companies across the country. To date, CFIN has approved $6.9 million of funding to 27 projects.

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