Food In Canada

New circular economy business accelerator for the food industry opens in southern Ontario

By Food in Canada staff   

Sustainability Business Operations 10C circular economy COIL Activate Editor pick Guelph Smart Cities Office Innovation Guelph Ontario

The Guelph Smart Cities Office, 10C and Innovation Guelph have launched the COIL Activate Circular Accelerator program, a new circular business accelerator initiative that will help scale businesses in the food and environment sectors.

COIL Activate is focused on growing 49 businesses by 2024 through circular economy training and mentorship. The 49 businesses is in addition to the 50 circular economy businesses and collaborations launched through Guelph-Wellington’s existing smart cities project, Our Food Future.

“In Guelph-Wellington, we’ve created an incredible urban-rural testbed for circular economy businesses, says David Messer, manager, COIL with the Smart Cities Office. “Through COIL Activate and other initiatives, we will bring more businesses from across the province into this ecosystem and together advance the transition to a more sustainable, circular economy.”

COIL Activate is open to existing businesses that are either operating or transitioning toward circular economy business practices, such as finding new uses for materials that are typically considered waste or using unique operational approaches to reduce waste and carbon emissions. The focus is on businesses operating in the food or environment sectors, and especially at the point where those sectors meet. The program helps these businesses refine market strategies and scale up their operations, putting them in a position to seek and secure additional venture capital investments.


“Through our work with 40 circular businesses and over 70 circular collaborations, we’ve seen how transformative circular business practices can be,” says Anne Toner Fung, CEO, Innovation Guelph. “COIL Activate enables innovative business leaders to take their businesses to the next level through world-class circular economy training, a national and international scaling network, and hands-on support from our mentors.”

Under COIL Activate, each participating business will:

  • receive up to $30,000 in grants and financing to support a particular business operation ($20,000 grant and $10,000 as a zero per cent interest loan through 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund),
  • contribute an additional $10,000 themselves in cash or in-kind resources (e.g. funding, staff time),
  • receive a tailored program of support and mentorship to meet their particular needs, including a new circular economy business training curriculum that will connect companies with strategies, experts and networks from around the world, and
  • be able to leverage the extensive network of experts and contacts in the public, private, academic and not-for-profit sectors from the Guelph-Wellington Urban-Rural Testbed, the ReSource Exchange material marketplace, and Circular Economy Digital Passport.

Applications are now being accepted through September 19 at for the October 2021 cohort of 10 businesses. In order to qualify for the program businesses need to have existing annual revenues of at least $200,000 and have business operations in southern Ontario – anywhere from Ottawa to Windsor.

Any business that applies for the first cohort and is unsuccessful will automatically be considered for the subsequent cohort launching in early spring 2022. A second application is not required.

The COIL Activate program will be looking for a mix of scale-up and early-stage businesses, social enterprises and not-for-profits.

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