Agriculture in Canada is kind of a big deal.
It generates $113.8 billion, or 6.6% of our national GDP, according to the Agricultural Institute of Canada. It accounts for one in every eight jobs in Canada. As a country, we’re the fifth largest exporter of agri-food products in the world.
It spans everything from farm to fork. Ranchers, growers, manufacturers, distributors, scientists, academics, developers, designers, retailers and consumers are all parts of the puzzle.
So it makes sense that agricultural industries are both a source of inspiration and a target of innovation.
What is agri-innovation? At its core, agri-innovation is about new ideas that drive the commercialization, adoption or creation of products or services, with the goal of increasing the sustainability or competitiveness of the agricultural sector and meeting the needs of the market.
When we think about innovation, we often jump immediately to advances in technology. In the case of agri-innovation, though, it includes anything that improves:
- The quality and yield of what farms produce
- The security and regulation of our food, including traceability
- The development and maintenance of rural land
- The sustainability and environmental impact of the sector
- The overall growth of our economy
- The health and well-being of food product consumers
What does that diversity look like in practice? The best way to tell you is to show you. Here are some of the top agri-innovators at Innovation Guelph.
TRU-ID: certified authentic, unadulterated nutrition
What’s on the label isn’t always what’s in the product. Chances are, you’ve swallowed some Echinacea capsules that contained no Echinacea, or “wild” salmon that was actually farmed, without ever knowing.
TRU-ID is the world’s first DNA-testing program that certifies the accuracy of product specifications on food and natural health product labels to reduce food fraud and promote accuracy and transparency in labeling.
Learn more: www.tru-id.ca
Mirexus: bringing a new eco-friendly biopolymer to market
In 2006, researchers at the University of Guelph stumbled upon something unexpected: a plant-based (and completely edible) form of glycogen, a key sugar animals and fungi use to store energy. They called it PhytoSpherix™.
Shortly after the discovery, Mirexus was formed, and started researching potential applications. It turns out they range widely, from skincare and beauty to nutraceuticals and biomedical products.
Learn more: www.mirexusbiotech.com
SoilOptix: a deeper map on soil health
Field nutrient maps give farmers new insight into what’s going on with their soil. Knowing the nutrients, pH levels, soil texture, saturation levels and more, farmers can make better decisions about the fertilizers they use and the crops they grow to make their fields and yields healthier.
Where conventional testing averages one to two samples per acre, the SoilOptix™ scanner gives farmers a high-definition picture with 335 data points in the same area. The result: more than 25 precision maps that help farmers operate more efficiently and monitor changes over time.
Learn more: soiloptix.com
Veriphy Skincare: 100% science-backed beauty
Veriphy formulates its line of moisturizers and facial creams using Mirexus’ PhytoSperix polymer. The material holds moisture very effectively, and improves production of elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid – basically, it’s great for skin health.
Not only are their products 98% natural and 100% cruelty-free, but the company also runs a scholarship for women in STEM fields through the University of Guelph.
Learn more: www.veriphyskincare.com
Quinta Quinoa: growing superfoods on Canadian farms
Historically, few farms outside of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile produced quinoa. It requires specific heat, rainfall and nutrients that make it difficult to grow outside of tropical territory.
That’s why Quinta Quinoa began breeding new strains of quinoa that can withstand the climate in Canada. Quinta is the first Ontario producer and processor to introduce a quinoa crop that produces high quality, improved nutrient density and excellent yields, helping to meet a rising global demand with a brand-new Canadian product.
Learn more: www.quinta.ca
Altilis Beauty: the beauty of sustainable cosmetics
Along the island of Samoa, breadfruit trees grow in abundance. Their wood is perfect for building houses and canoes, and their fruit is a staple food in many tropical regions. More importantly for Altilis Beauty, breadfruit flowers contain powerful antioxidants and natural moisturizers.
These flowers are the key ingredient in Altilis’ skin care line, and the direct partnership they have developed with local microfarmers in Apia, Samoa helps support and sustain the community economically, socially and environmentally.
Learn more: www.altilisbeauty.com
This is just a sampling of the many great ideas we’re supporting at Innovation Guelph. So the next time you think of agri-innovation, certainly think about tech – and then consider the many other amazing things our innovators are creating and developing.