MRO Magazine

CFIN invests in foodtech projects

June 22, 2023 | By Mario Cywinski

Photo: CFIN.

Photo: CFIN.

The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) has invested $516,959 into six foodtech projects funded through the organization’s Innovation Booster program. Industry will match these funds to create projects valued at just under $1 million.

“These six projects showcase how diverse, innovative, and ambitious Canadian foodtech companies are,” said Dana McCauley, CEO, CFIN. “These startups are developing novel processes, creating first-to-market technologies, and tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our food sector. Food innovation is thriving across the country and we’re extremely excited about the global potential of these projects.”

The Innovation Booster program provides flexible and rapid support to small or medium enterprises (SMEs) as they address food innovation challenges or technical hurdles that have created barriers to achieving their commercialization goals. The program is administered by CFIN, which is supported by the Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund.

The Innovation Booster funding recipients are:


Impactful Health R&D (Nova Scotia) receives $100,000 for the Pilot Coating Line. Impactful Health R&D (IHRD) is developing sustainable active packaging to prolong the shelf life of raw proteins, starting with fresh fish. The funding will help IHRD build and test a continuous film coating pilot line at their facilities in Nova Scotia, with the end goals of reducing food waste, limiting the reliance on traditional plastics, and increasing ROI for the entire value chain.

“We are thrilled to receive the Innovation Booster funding from CFIN, which enables us to advance our revolutionary Actipack technology,” said Mina Mikhail, founder and CEO, Impactful Health. “Expanding our production capacity will propel IHRD into the next phase of growth. Together with CFIN, we are paving the way for a greener, healthier, and more economically viable food industry.”

CarbonGraph Inc. (Ontario) receives $96,358 for enabling automated farm-to-table lifecycle assessments in Canada. CarbonGraph has developed a next-generation sustainability platform to automate lifecycle assessments of the environmental footprint of food products. After testing their platform with food companies across Canada, the Ontario-based startup is developing a new core functionality to automatically capture supply chain data from grocers and food distributors across thousands of individual products. This funding will enable CarbonGraph to pilot their enhanced platform with the country’s largest food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

“CarbonGraph’s mission is to make sustainability easy, transparent, and profitable for Canada’s food sector,” said Sam Anderson, co-founder and CEO, CarbonGraph. “After developing our platform and testing it at smaller scales over the last two years, CFIN’s Innovation Booster program is taking CarbonGraph to the next level by providing the resources and opportunities to begin deploying our software at an industrial scale and putting accessible carbon footprint data in the hands of as many businesses and individuals as possible.”

Cibotica Inc. (British Columbia) receives $90,741 for its universal food-safe dispensing mechanism for food makelines. Cibotica is developing a food-safe version of a universal dispensing mechanism and associated control algorithms to be used in their robotic salad and bowl makeline. The BC-based food tech company has already developed an ingredient-agnostic dispensing mechanism that’s capable of dispensing most ingredients regardless of their shape, size, and preparation method. The focus of this project is to ensure the dispensing mechanism is food-safe and optimized for performance using advanced control algorithms.

“Thanks to the funding from the Canadian Food Innovation Network, we are able to optimize our universal ingredient dispensing and portioning technology,” said Souroush Sefidkar, founder and co-CEO, Cibotica. “This technology is capable of dispensing most ingredients regardless of their shape, size, and preparation method. This support will expedite the commercialization of our robotic makeline, which has the potential to solve the most prominent pain points and inefficiencies in the restaurant industry”

Freshline (British Columbia) gets $83,908 for innovating the global food distribution supply chain. Freshline is building out the core functionality of its new B2B e-commerce platform that will enable food distributors and retailers to transact online in ways that were not previously possible. Improvements include a turnkey integration management tool that allows suppliers to connect their ERP, accounting, inventory, or operations management platform to Freshline via API, webhooks, or FTP.

“We are incredibly excited at Freshline to be backed by CFIN under the Innovation Booster program, said Robert Kirstiuk, co-founder and CEO, Freshline. “We’re very optimistic on our ability to use these funds to further advance the Canadian innovation landscape and are grateful to have this support.”

New School Foods Inc. (Ontario) gets $80,526 for its novel process to create plant-based fish that flakes. New School Foods had developed a proprietary food scaffolding technology to create whole-cut meat alternatives. Their first product is a whole-muscle, unbreaded plant-based salmon fillet that mimics the look, taste, and texture of conventional salmon. The funding will be used to create novel equipment that can draw ‘white lines’ in the salmon to help improve this product by creating fillets that flake and closely emulate traditional salmon.

“Our company is dedicated to creating no compromise meat alternatives for everyone to enjoy, and that starts with adding more tools to the production toolkit,” said Chris Bryson, CEO and founder, New School Foods. “We’re using this funding to drive that mission forward as we continue exploring and developing new techniques to support the creation of realistic whole-cut meat and seafood alternatives across the industry.”

ABCO Industries Inc. (Nova Scotia) gets $64,926 for its experimental validation and verification of a novel blanching process – Harnessing the Full Potential of Direct Steam Injection. This project will enable ABCO to form the basis for commercializing a new blancher that uses a more efficient and effective steam process for heat delivery though the deployment of fans and the digitization of controls. This will result in reduced costs and increased returns for both the processor and consumer, while also creating a more sustainable and energy efficient blanching process.

“With support from CFIN, ABCO will continue to innovate our food processing machinery through the development and commercialization of a more sustainable approach to thermal processing, said Jason Huskilson, VP sales and co-owner, ABCO Industries. “The result will benefit Canadian processors and consumers by lowering the cost to produce high quality product.”

During this fifth round of Innovation Booster funding, CFIN received 41 applications from across the country. In total, 23 Canadian foodtech companies have received $1,872,769 from this program since 2021.



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