TheCanadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN)announced that it is investing $2,545,030 into eight projects, valued at over $5 million through the organization’s Food Innovation Challenge and Innovation Booster Programs.

The Food Innovation Challenge funding recipients are:

Theory Mesh (Winnipeg): Creating A More Sustainable Beef and Dairy Supply Chain Through Controlled Environment Agriculture and Digitization
TheoryMesh 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 that 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): Scaling Fruit Volumes and Transparency Across the Fruit Supply Chain

Vivid Machines is working with Algoma Orchard and Blue Mountain Fruit Company to create digital twins of orchards to better determine ideal harvest timings and ensure that 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.

The Innovation Booster funding recipients are:

Liven Protein Corporation (Toronto): Animal-free Collagen from Upcycling of Food Industry Side-streams
Funding: $99,926
Liven 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 usage 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.

Rapid Aid Corporation (Mississauga, Ont.): Conducting Experimental Research to Develop Sustainable and Smart Packaging for Canadian Meal Kit Market
Rapid Air Corporation 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 ecofriendly food shipper will address a gap in Canada's food business ecosystem as there are currently no Canadian companies that manufacture off-the-shelf, pre-qualified cold chain shipper systems for the Canadian food market.

Smallfood Inc. (Darthmouth, Nova Scotia): Determination of Shelf-life Stability of A Novel Protein- And Dha-rich Food Ingredient
Funding: $98,932.00
Smallfood is a microbial food & 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 flavor. 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.

Alternative proteins can offer consumers nutritious, healthy food options; but innovation in the space is required to realize the maximum economic, ethical, and environmental benefits this category of food products can achieve.

Saltwinds Coffee Company (Douglas, New Brunswick): Reducing Carbon Emissions in Coffee Roasting
Saltwinds Coffee Company is developing innovations that can help make coffee roasting carbon neutral. The company 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.

Coffee is one of the most carbon-intensive beverages consumed in Canada. Environmental efforts in the coffee industry have been primarily focused on the farm level, but the roasting process itself is a significant carbon contributor. The results of this project will accelerate the protection and scaled production of Saltwinds' carbon capture innovations, helping the company offer a reduced carbon coffee to even more customers across Canada and around the world.

BioShur Inc. (Montreal): Scale-Up of Biobased, Backyard Compostable, And Bioactive Packaging
BioShur 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 7 to 14 days. This project has the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions and food waste, while offering a fully compostable and cost competitive advantage for food companies who currently use existing plastic packaging options.

Earthware Reusables Inc. (Calgary): Development of Durable and UV Resistant Hemp Reinforced Polypropylene Composite for Vacuum Forming of Reusable Food Containers
Earthware 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.

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.