CFIN grants over $500k to six foodtech projects
By Food in Canada StaffBusiness Operations ABCO Industries British Columbia Canadian Food Innovation Network CarbonGraph Cibotica Food innovation Freshline Impactful Health R&D New School Foods Nova Scotia Ontario
The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) is investing $516,959 into six foodtech projects through the organization’s Innovation Booster Program. Industry will match these funds to create projects valued at just under $1 million.
The Innovation Booster funding recipients are:
Project lead: Impactful Health R&D (Nova Scotia)
Project title: Pilot Coating Line
Impactful Health R&D (IHRD) is developing sustainable active packaging to prolong the shelf life of raw proteins, starting with fresh fish. The Innovation Booster funding will help IHRD build and test a continuous film coating pilot line at their facilities in Nova Scotia with the end goals of reducing food waste, limiting the reliance on traditional plastics, and increasing ROI for the entire value chain.
Their underlying technology, Actipack, is a coating that is applied on the food-facing surface of packaging film to inhibit bacterial growth and extend product shelf life. Through this project, IHRD will increase the production capacity of their Actipack film, conduct more pilots with food processors and grocery retailers, and de-risk the scalability of their eco-friendly packaging solution.
“We are thrilled to receive the Innovation Booster funding from CFIN, which enables us to advance our revolutionary Actipack technology. Expanding our production capacity will propel IHRD into the next phase of growth. Together with CFIN, we are paving the way for a greener, healthier, and more economically viable food industry,” said Mina Mikhail, founder and CEO, Impactful Health.
Project lead: CarbonGraph (Ontario)
Project title: Enabling Automated Farm-to-Table Life-cycle Assessments in Canada
CarbonGraph has developed a next-generation sustainability platform to automate life-cycle assessments of the environmental footprint of food products. After testing their platform with food companies across Canada, the Ontario-based startup is developing a new core functionality to automatically capture supply chain data from grocers and food distributors across thousands of individual products.
This new functionality will allow CarbonGraph to trace this data back to food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers to produce high-quality life-cycle assessments for individual products. This will give Canadian consumers more insight into the environmental impact of their dietary choices, while highlighting the sustainability advantage of choosing Canadian food products in global markets.
This Innovation Booster funding will enable CarbonGraph to pilot their enhanced platform with the country’s largest food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.
“CarbonGraph’s mission is to make sustainability easy, transparent, and profitable for Canada’s food sector. After developing our platform and testing it at smaller scales over the last two years, CFIN’s Innovation Booster program is taking CarbonGraph to the next level by providing the resources and opportunities to begin deploying our software at an industrial scale and putting accessible carbon footprint data in the hands of as many businesses and individuals as possible,” said Sam Anderson, co-founder and CEO, CarbonGraph.
Project lead: Cibotica (British Columbia)
Project title: Universal Food-Safe Dispensing Mechanism for Food Makelines
Cibotica is developing a food-safe version of a universal dispensing mechanism and associated control algorithms to be used in their robotic salad and bowl makeline. The B.C.-based foodtech company has already developed an ingredient-agnostic dispensing mechanism that’s capable of dispensing most ingredients regardless of their shape, size, and preparation method. The focus of this project is to ensure the dispensing mechanism is food-safe and optimized for performance using advanced control algorithms.
The successful completion of this project will optimize the speed, accuracy, and reliability of the robotic salad and bowl makeline used in many food service environments, leading to significant increases in productivity and efficiency.
“Thanks to the funding from the Canadian Food Innovation Network, we are able to optimize our universal ingredient dispensing and portioning technology. This technology is capable of dispensing most ingredients regardless of their shape, size, and preparation method. This support will expedite the commercialization of our robotic makeline,” said Souroush Sefidkar, founder and co-CEO, Cibotica.
Project lead: Freshline (British Columbia)
Project title: Innovating the Global Food Distribution Supply Chain
Freshline is building out the core functionality of its new B2B e-commerce platform that will enable food distributors and retailers to transact online in ways that were not previously possible. Improvements include a turnkey integration management tool that allows suppliers to connect their ERP, accounting, inventory, or operations management platform to Freshline via API, webhooks, or FTP. Food distributors in Canada and the U.S. will get access to a first-of-its-kind software that streamlines and automates manual sales and operations work.
Project lead: New School Foods (Ontario)
Project title: A Novel Process to Create Plant-based Fish That Flakes
New School Foods had developed a proprietary food scaffolding technology to create whole-cut meat alternatives. Their first product is a whole-muscle, unbreaded plant-based salmon fillet that mimics the look, taste, and texture of conventional salmon. The raw salmon transforms when cooked from a translucent to an opaque product, the same way a traditional salmon fillet product does. The funding will be used to create novel equipment that can draw ‘white lines’ in the salmon to help improve this product by creating fillets that flake and closely emulate traditional salmon.
“Our company is dedicated to creating no compromise meat alternatives for everyone to enjoy, and that starts with adding more tools to the production toolkit. We’re using this funding to drive that mission forward as we continue exploring and developing new techniques to support the creation of realistic whole-cut meat and seafood alternatives across the industry,” said Chris Bryson, CEO and founder, New School Foods.
Project lead: ABCO Industries (Nova Scotia)
Project title: Experimental Validation and Verification of a Novel Blanching Process – Harnessing the Full Potential of Direct Steam Injection
ABCO is a forerunner in the thermal blanching of vegetables, with their Heat & Hold Blancher being a system of choice for companies in over 45 countries. To assist their customers in achieving sustainability targets, ABCO is constantly seeking to reduce energy and water consumption required to operate their systems, while maintaining maximum yields and nutrition.
This project will enable ABCO to form the basis for commercializing a new blancher that uses a more efficient and effective steam process for heat delivery though the deployment of fans and the digitization of controls. This will result in reduced costs and increased returns for both the processor and consumer, while also creating a more sustainable and energy-efficient blanching process.
“With support from CFIN, ABCO will continue to innovate our food processing machinery through the development and commercialization of a more sustainable approach to thermal processing (i.e. less energy and water consumption). The result will benefit Canadian processors and consumers by lowering the cost to produce high quality product,” said Jason Huskilson, VP sales and co-owner, ABCO Industries.
“These six projects showcase how diverse, innovative, and ambitious Canadian foodtech companies are. These startups are developing novel processes, creating first-to-market technologies, and tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our food sector. Food innovation is thriving across the country and we’re extremely excited about the global potential of these projects,” Dana McCauley, CEO, CFIN.
CFIN’s Innovation Booster provides funding and support to SMEs to help them accelerate product development, overcome innovation hurdles, and validate market fit. During this fifth round of Innovation Booster funding, CFIN received 41 applications from across the country. In total, 23 Canadian foodtech companies have received $1,872,769 from this program since 2021.
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