Business & Policy
Eight Ontario ag start-ups awarded seed funding to grow
By Stephanie Gordon
Eight Ontario agriculture start-ups are among the 50 companies selected to receive seed funding of up to $30,000 each to help them launch, grow, and boost innovation in southern Ontario.
The companies received seed funding from the Bioenterprise Corporation and its delivery partner Innovation Guelph, through the most recent round of their respective programs, Seed Fund and Fuel Injection, funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
These companies will receive coaching and mentorship to encourage regional economic development, along with a grant of up to $30,000 each in non-repayable seed financing to help them launch innovative new products and services, expand their operations, access new markets, attract investment and create jobs. This fresh round of companies will add to the more than 120 southern Ontario companies that have participated in previous rounds of the programs since 2016.
The eight agriculture companies range from precision agriculture platforms, to early disease detection technology, to an online grain marketplace. See the list of agriculture companies that received funding below:
AERC: hybrid seeds
Agriculture Environmental Renewal Canada (AERC) is a Canadian hybrid seed company focusing on research, development and commercialization of a variety of hybrid seeds. According to AERC, they produce environment-friendly and economically promising grain, sugary, forage sorghum and pearl millet hybrids, among other commodities such as sorghum flour (used as animal feed, bio-available fuel, and gluten-free flour alternative).
AgriLogicAI: using AI to predict yields and manage risk
AgriLogicAI developed a geographic information system (GIS) platform for automated crop monitoring and appraisal services for agri-business. The company integrates deep learning (a machine learning technique within the larger space of artificial intelligence (AI)) models with historical data to monitor land use and crop yields across the country. The platform has been taught to analyze large amounts of data and can help crop insurance companies and companies trading in food-commodities better predict crop yields and future prices to manage risk. Starting in 2019, AgriLogicAI announced their plans to include a “DON Alert,” or Fusarium alert system, within their platform that will better predict Fusarium risk in Ontario corn.
DMT Bioproducts: turning perennial grasses into fuel
DMT Bioproducts is looking into developing a commercially viable bioprocessing technology to process locally grown biomass and convert them into fuel. Specifically the company is looking into optimizing a process for Miscanthus giganteus, a perennial grass that has potential as a biofuel and requires little farming attention.
FarmLead: online grain marketplace
Farmlead is an online grain marketplace for producers to buy or sell grain. Their platform allows farmers and credit-approved buyers to negotiate and transact directly with one another.
Korechi: autonomous field robots
Korechi Innovations designs autonomous products – essentially robots, for use in farms and turf maintenance. Their autonomous robot RoamIO, which could be comparable to a field Roomba, boasts low soil-compaction and the ability to attach tow-behind accessories such as herbicide sprayers and spreaders for seed, fertilizer and salt.
Nurture Growth: bio-fertilizer
Nurture Growth Bio Fertilizer Inc. produces organic fertilizing solutions to commercial growers in agricultural, horticultural, turf and ornamental industries. The company states that their product to 20 to 50 per cent more economical than existing organic fertilizers and has soil amendment qualities.
Spornado: early disease detection
Spornado is a disease alert system that can be used to assess Sclerotinia risk in canola and late blight risk in potatoes. The low-technology device sits in a field and collects disease spores from the air and water. The filters are then sent to a lab for bi-weekly analysis to assess disease levels. The results offer growers helpful information that aides in fungicide decisions.
Troo: yield monitor
The Troo Corporation produces the precision agriculture platform FarmTRX, which is a yield monitor that can be attached on any combine to help a farmer generate yield maps.
Boosting the local economy
The funding provided by FedDev Ontario for these two programs has resulted in more than $55 million in follow on private investment and $53 million in sales, coupled with the creation of more than 520 jobs, and 460 products being successfully launched since the programs’ inception.
Through FedDev Ontario, the Government of Canada has invested $7.12 million into innovation in the region through Bioenterprise’s Seed Fund and Innovation Guelph’s Fuel Injection programs. This support has reached early-stage southern Ontario businesses in agriculture, agri-food, sustainable and environmental technology, advanced manufacturing and social innovation.