Food In Canada

Food as medicine: CFIN funds eight foodtech projects

By Food in Canada Staff   

Food In Canada Food Trends Health & Wellness Canadian Food Innovation Network Foodtech

The Fresh Prep Foods team.

The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) is awarding $654,417 to eight foodtech projects through the organization’s Innovation Booster Program. Industry will match these funds to create projects valued at over $1.3M.

The Innovation Booster funding recipients are:

Project lead: Enhanced Medical Nutrition Inc. (Ontario)

Project title: Evidence-based Medical Food for Patients Undergoing Orthopaedic Surgery


Funding: $100,000

Acknowledging the pivotal role of nutrition in post-surgical recovery, Enhanced Medical Nutrition (EMN) is investigating the impact of their medical food products on orthopaedic surgery patients. Leveraging markerless motion capture gait analysis technology (a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s stance and walking patterns), the project will determine how EMN’s products influence surgical patients’ movement and function after their procedure. Results from this project hold strong potential to revolutionize conventional surgical preparation and recovery practices, redefining how food can optimize clinical outcomes.

Project lead: RxFood Corporation (Ontario)

Project title: AI-powered Photo Food Analysis, Personalized Interpretation, and Dietary Recommendation to Improve Healthy Eating and Chronic Disease Outcomes

Funding: $99,868

A combination of growing factors, including misinformation regarding nutritional claims, a surge in metabolic-related conditions such as diabetes and obesity, and increasing difficulty in accessing dietitians, reveal an urgent need for innovative solutions to enhance Canadians’ dietary habits. RxFood is tackling this challenge by adapting their AI-powered, clinical-grade dietary assessment technology for widespread use among Canadians while promoting improved diet quality for managing and preventing chronic diseases.

Currently, users capture images of their meals over a three-day period, allowing RxFood to precisely assess food content, portion sizes, and calculate validated diet quality scores. This data is then discussed with a clinician to establish nutrition goals. With over 100,000 assessments completed, the project’s next phase seeks to automate the interpretation and food recommendations by fusing food data with user information — such as age, location, gender, and dietary restrictions – to sustainably improve a person’s diet quality and health.

Project lead: Psigryph Inc. (Ontario)

Project title: Clinical Trial for Cholestello, a dietary supplement for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels

Funding: $99,925

Psigryph has achieved a significant milestone by developing a market-ready dietary supplement. Psigryph is now planning human clinical trials that will help define their product and ensure it complies with industry regulations in the US and Canada. This project underscores the potential of Psigryph’s key ingredient, locally sourced sour cherries from Ontario, to increase the bioavailability of essential bioactives to enhance human health and well-being.

Project leadBiofect Innovations (Ontario)

Project title: Production of a Novel Natural Protein Sweetener via Microbial Fermentation

Funding: $99,600

Brazzein is a natural sweetening protein that could help alleviate the challenges posed by sugar and artificial sweeteners. Brazzein, which is derived from the Oubli berry fruit in West Africa, is 2000 times sweeter than sugar. However, its cultivation is restricted to specific regions, and Brazzein is found in minuscule concentrations in the fruit, making large-scale farming impractical.

To overcome this, Biofect Innovations is pioneering a microbial fermentation technology, similar to processes used in beer, wine, or insulin production. Their innovative approach aims to economically produce Brazzein at scale by sidestepping traditional agriculture and harnessing the efficiency of microbial platforms.

Project Lead: Fresh Prep Foods (British Columbia)

Project Title: Increasing Adoption of Specialty, Nutrition Focused Diets Through Advanced Fulfillment Software

Funding: $96,746

Fresh Prep is addressing the limited accessibility of personalized meal programs for specialty diets by developing software that enables consumers to effortlessly plan and execute their nutrition-focused diets affordably. The software, an AI-powered virtual nutrition advisor (referred to as “the menu planner”), will deliver personalized nutritional guidance alongside the convenience of meal kit deliveries.

Project lead: Millennia TEA Inc. (New Brunswick)

Project title: Increasing Solubility and Bioavailability in Nutrient-dense Plants

Funding: $78,515

Millennia Tea aims to unlock the full potential of the tea plant’s nutritional compounds for human health. Currently, commercial processing methods limit the body’s ability to absorb these nutrients effectively. To address this, Millennia Tea is utilizing a combination of lemon-juice simulated washing, high-powered ultrasound, and a novel freeze-drying technique. Their goal is to enhance the release of these health-promoting compounds, ultimately improving their bioavailability.

This project involves collaboration with seasoned food scientists and biochemists who specialize in polyphenolic and cellular analyses. The immediate industry impact includes providing B2B health ingredients for businesses in the better-for-you beverage sector as well as supplements like greens powders and protein powder.

Project lead: Cronometer Software Inc. (British Columbia)

Project title: AI Food Suggestions

Funding: $47,378

Cronometer Software is replacing their outdated Food Suggestion feature in their mobile and web app with an advanced AI-powered alternative. This cutting-edge AI Food Suggestions feature will provide tailored suggestions based on individual user needs, assisting users in meeting their specific daily calorie and nutrient targets.

The AI Food Suggestions project is designed to cater uniquely to each user, generating recommendations based on factors such as recently logged foods, selected filters (e.g. high-protein, vegetarian), meal categories (e.g. lunch), and dietary exclusions (e.g. gluten and peanuts). This project will enhance user satisfaction and nutritional outcomes, marking a significant step forward in the evolution of Cronometer Software’s platform.

Project lead: Tait Laboratories Inc. (Quebec)

Project title: Clinical Investigation of a Citrus Peel Prebiotic

Funding: $32,385

Tait Laboratories is running human clinical trials aimed at substantiating the prebiotic properties of a patented citrus peel extract, supported by advanced AI analysis of gut microbiome and overall digestive health. This research will enhance the understanding of how prebiotics impact human well-being and explore opportunities to repurpose citrus peel waste generated by Canadian consumers and juice companies, which accounts for approximately 175,000 metric tons each year. The anticipated outcomes include the development of sustainable waste management solutions, a reduction in landfill burdens, and the potential creation of new value streams within the Canadian juice industry.

Beyond its essential role in providing macro nutrients, food can be a powerful tool in the prevention and treatment of human diseases and common health ailments. The concept of ‘food as medicine’ is growing in popularity with consumers, and globally innovators are launching new software, ingredients, and products that aim to improve health and wellness.

This Innovation Booster funding call sought applications targeting the food as medicine category, including innovations focused on personalized health solutions, novel and emerging functional ingredients, and novel processing methods.

“Personalized nutrition thrives on innovation, offering individuals the tools they need to navigate the complex world of dietary choices and personalized meal plans. These eight projects demonstrate Canadian-made solutions that are empowering individuals to optimize their health and well-being by tailoring their diets to suit their individual profiles, promoting a healthier and more sustainable future,” said Dana McCauley, CEO, Canadian Food Innovation Network.

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