GUELPH, ON — Four Thunder Bay-area businesses and one from Dryden are among seven finalists for Phase 2 of the Northern Ontario Innovation Challenge.
The competition is organized by Guelph-based Bioenterprise Canada.
It's a network of entrepreneurs, accelerators, and service partners that promotes innovation in the agri-tech and food industry.
The finalists were chosen from entries received from across Northern Ontario during an open call for submissions earlier this year.
- My-Pride Farm of Thunder Bay, a producer of locally-raised meat
- BioNorth Solutions of Thunder Bay, developer of plant-growth-promoting bacteria
- Northern Vintner Inc. of Thunder Bay, a boutique fruit winery
- Cramer Dairy Farms of Slate River, an innovative farm diversifying into beef production
- Agri-Tech North of Dryden, an indoor vertical farm that grows fresh produce
- TECC Agriculture Ltd. of New Liskeard, a precision agricultural company
- Dalew Farms Inc./Click Fork of Lavigne, an online farmers' market for local food in the North Bay area
As part of Phase 2, these businesses are invited to present themselves to the Bioenterprise team and access its national network of mentors and partners.
It will culminate in a public demonstration day in September, where each participant will give a short pitch to a panel of judges representing a cross-section of the agriculture industry, private sector leaders and academic researchers.
The grand prize winner will receive $5,000 cash.
"Our goal in running the Challenge is to identify and give profile to innovative businesses and start-ups in Northern Ontario who are active in the food and agri-tech sector," says Bioenterprise Canada CEO Dave Smardon.
"Our team is looking forward to working with this cohort as part of our ongoing commitment to identify and encourage innovation and economic development in Northern Ontario," he added.
Last year, Bioenterprise Canada launched a Northern Ontario pilot hub to serve as a single source of agri-food sector networking and business acceleration services.
The hub is focused on connecting start-ups and early-stage businesses with services and targeted resources across Canada.
Funding is provided by FedNor.