Food In Canada

Gryphon’s LAAIR Innovation Showcase and Pitch Competition

Kristy Nudds   

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As part of Canadian Innovation Week, the Research Innovation Office at the University of Guelph (UofG), in partnership with the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, is pleased to host the first annual Gryphon’s LAAIR Innovation Showcase and Pitch Competition.  The event, being held on May 21, 2019 in Rozanski Hall on the UofG campus from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., will celebrate amazing innovators—from aquaculture, food traceability and cyber security to plant tissue culture propagation, equine therapy and nutraceuticals—who are putting knowledge into action in ways that have an impact on the Ontario economy and beyond.

“The Gryphon’s LAAIR program helps UofG researchers to launch innovations into the marketplace. Having supported more than 50 projects since 2014, Gryphon’s LAAIR funding has turned university knowledge into valuable outputs that have generated new enterprises, enhanced business productivity, created jobs, and improved prosperity and people’s lives,” said Malcolm Campbell, Vice-President Research at the University of Guelph.

Beginning at 2 p.m. with an afternoon of dialogue and case studies that highlight the many ways UofG researchers identify needs and validate concepts that can be used by external stakeholders, the Gryphon’s LAAIR Innovation Showcase and Pitch culminates in a pitch competition (starting at 6 p.m.) where six corporations who have roots in the UofG research community will go head-to-head to win a total of $17,500 in prizes.

Pitch teams are FloNergia Inc., Biolytica Inc., Griffinix Inc., We Vitro Inc., SP Nutraceuticals Inc., and eQcell Inc.  (More info below)

The judges are Mauricio Alanis, Innovation Director, Maple Leaf Foods; Laura Arrell, The Arrell Family Foundation; Julie Ellis, COO of Snuggle Bugz and Angel Investor; Shelley King, CEO, Natural Products Canada; and Shelley Martin, CEO Emeritus, Nestle Canada. The pitch competition will kick off at 6 p.m. hosted by Improv comedian and entrepreneur Jay Reid of The Making Box.

What: The first annual Gryphon’s LAAIR Innovation Showcase and Pitch Competition, a Canadian Innovation Week event.

Where: Rozanski Hall, University of Guelph campus

When: May 21, 2019 from 2-9 p.m.

2 p.m. – Registration Opens
3 to 4 p.m. – Panel Discussion: Exploring the Future of Knowledge Mobilization
4 to 5 p.m. – Gryphon’s LAAIR Project Showcase
5 to 6 p.m. – Programming Break
6 to 7:30 p.m. – Gryphon’s LAAIR Pitch Competition
7:30 to 9 p.m. – After Party


Website, visit

Gryphon’s LAAIR Pitch Competition (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.)
Named by the Globe and Mail as an important Canadian Clean Tech Company to Watch in 2019 and achieving finalist status in Fast Company’s 2018 World Changing Ideas Award competition, FloNergia Inc. is commercializing airlift pumps that substantially reduce energy use in aquaculture, hydroponic, and aquaponic production systems.
Pitch Competition Lead: Sherif Abou, PhD (
Media Contact:  Wael Ahmed, PhD (
·      Aquaculture, Aquaponics, Hydroponics methods and industry barriers
·      Energy conservation
DNA sequencing and analysis is made more accessible and portable by Biolytica Inc. Their lead product the Lifecanner Species Identification Kit and companion App is empowering ‘citizen scientists’ and others to use new tools and information to better understand and document the diversity of life around them.
Pitch Lead & Media Contact: Sujeevan Ratsingham, Professor at the Centre for Biodiversity (
·      DNA barcoding
·      Food fraud
·      Food Traceability
·      Wildlife Fraud
Griffinix Inc.
Using an artificial intelligence based controller system that provides timely and efficient responses to cyber-attacks, Griffinix Inc. is helping to build more secure, predictive and resilient computer systems. Their technology has applications across industries and sectors and can be used to protect sensitive information for parties as diverse as agricultural groups, health care providers and the Department of National Defence.
Pitch Lead:  Sanaz Nakhodchi (
Media Contact: Ali Dehghantanha, PhD (
·      Cyber security
·      Cyber Forensics
·      Threat Intelligence
Targeting large scale cannabis producers and their needs for product consistency, the We Vitro growth system is a novel yet versatile plant tissue culture devices ideally suited to commercial settings needing to scale plant production. By redesigning traditional equipment, We Vitro Inc. has created space saving, low labour and maintenance solutions, putting them at the forefront of the tissue culture industry.
Pitch Lead & Media Contact: Kevin Piunno, M.Sc. (
·      Plant variety preservation (bananas, orchids, cannabis)
·      Plant tissue culture propagation
Through the discovery and development of novel food and plant-based molecules, SP Nutraceuticals Inc. is developing natural products designed to improve the lives and health of people who would otherwise need prescription medications. They are working with the molecule Avocatin B, which has demonstrated an ability to kill leukemia stem cells, delay the onset of insulin resistance and aid in weight loss.
Pitch Lead: Christina Barbato, LLB (
Media Contact:  Paul Spagnuolo, PhD (
•          Nutraceuticals
•          Plant derived health therapies for cancer, diabetes, kidney stones
•          Health properties of avocadoes
eQcell Inc. gives veterinarians and trainers an opportunity to repair injured equine athletes with cutting edge stem cell therapies. eQcell technology not only reduces the suffering of these animals but allows them to return to their intended careers with high functionality to live productive lives.
Pitch Lead and Media Contact: Thomas Koch, PhD (
·      Equine health: racing, equestrian athletics, etc.
·      Humane animal care
·      Stem cell immune therapy

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