Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

Made in Canada: Sustaining a Global Competitive Advantage in Cannabis Technology

Last month marked the one year anniversary since Canada became the first G7 country to legalize cannabis. On October 17, 2019, the Canadian Cannabis Regulations were updated to establish rules for the legal production and sale of three new classes of cannabis including edibles, extracts, and topicals, which are expected to become available for purchase in physical and online stores beginning in mid-December 2019.

With Canada currently representing the second-largest legal cannabis market in the world, innovation is now more vital than ever to maintaining a sustainable competitive Canadian advantage in the global cannabis value chain.

While legalization has attracted unprecedented levels of investment and has paved the way for accelerated research, clinical Cannabis research remains in its infancy with limited and often conflicting open-source information requiring heavy R&D investments to distinguish companies in this oversaturated market. Additionally, with the expansion of the market in terms of volumes and formats, much research is needed in harvesting/ processing technologies and product development.

Fortunately, costs of innovation in the cannabis industry can be offset with non-dilutive funding which can critically extend a company’s runway, bridge the funding gap to commercialization, and reduce the risk for investors.

Funding Cannabis R&D in Canada

The SR&ED tax credit program is the most lucrative source of non-dilutive funding for companies performing R&D in Canada, providing up to 68% back on eligible R&D expenditures for Qualified Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC’s) and 43% for Foreign-owned or public corporations depending on the province.

Examples of SR&ED in Cannabis include:

1. Edibles, Beverages, Extracts, and Topicals

  • Enhancing nutrient content or eliminating allergens.
  • Increasing product quality, yield, or shelf-life.
  • Overcoming ingredient interference (i.e. chocolate) with potency testing.
  • Maintaining formulaic stability, solubility, and dispersion
  • Developing terpene-based organoleptic profiles.
  • Scaling up and improving process efficiency.
  • Overcoming limitations of processes that utilize reagents (ethanol, CO2, propane).
  • Improving/developing extraction sequences and process parameters, and new isolation methods.
  • Reducing water consumption, or improving heating/cooling processes.
  • Developing innovative sustainable cannabis packaging solutions.

2. Medicinal & Pharmaceutical

  • Developing novel cannabis treatments and medical procedures.
  • Clinically assessing patient response to different doses, strains, and cultivation practices. 
  • Developing new, innovative methods to assess cannabinoid concentration.
  • Developing methods to test medicinal ingredient accuracy for consumers and industry professionals.

3. Cultivation/Harvesting

  • Testing the effects of climate/growing conditions (temperature and humidity, mineral composition of soil ph., and light exposure) and relative cultivation sequences on yield/ potency and the resulting product quality (yield, potency, terpenes profile).
  • Assessing growth conditions relative to processing parameters and product efficacy.
  • Developing new bio-stimulants for disease resistance, new fertilizer blends for boosting yield or developing biological pest controls.
  • Performing gene editing and breeding studies.
  • Integrating automation processes and equipment.  

4. ICT

  • Improving diagnostic and data analytics.
  • Developing cloud biology platforms and software applications.
  • Developing Smart Farming, IoT, and security systems.  

Bridging the Funding Gap

SR&ED funding can be combined with other sources of non-dilutive financing at various stages of growth to bridge the funding gap from product development to commercialization. 

Advanced SR&ED Financing: While the SR&ED tax credit program is critical for the viability of Canadian companies, it often takes over one year to receive the funding, which can be challenging, particularly for early stage companies. Advanced SR&ED accrual debt financing helps to bridge the financing gap by enabling companies to gain access to up to 80% of their SR&ED refund as soon as six months pre-filing.

Agri and Regional R&D funding: The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3 billion, federal-provincial-territorial agreement, that will replace Growing Forward 2 (GF2), and provides cost-sharing funding for processors and other agri-related businesses. The FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) regional stream is a non-repayable grant for SMEs operating in rural Southern Ontario within priority sectors that covers up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum of $100,000.

Commercialization: The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) supports companies that are investing in new technology projects that lead to new products, processes, or services in Canada, with an emphasis on commercialization. IRAP will cover labour and subcontractor costs. IRAP can be paired with SR&ED to increase the total funding amounts, provided adequate deductions for overlap are made.

Export: CanExport is a government funding program that provides funding to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support new export market development. Previously, the CanExport program excluded the agriculture and food processing sectors, since companies in these industries were already eligible for export funding through the AgriMarketing program. However, as of August 22, 2019, the program will also be expanded to include supporting companies from Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-products industry, including fish and seafood. CanExport’s funding limit for SMEs will also increase to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses.

Having a first mover advantage with federal legalization, Canada is poised to lead the world in cannabis R&D and evidence-based cannabis policy; however, this will require continued investment in R&D and the commercialization of ‘Made in Canada’ innovations in cannabis.  

Contact us today for a free assessment of your funding eligibility

Funding Opportunity for Ontario Companies Supporting Local Grain Farmers

Innovation in Canada is constantly being encouraged across all sectors of business as new technologies and processes can significantly improve production, jobs and profits. The farming sector in Ontario is no exception. With Ontario’s grain farmers responsible for growing 6 million acres of crops across the province, employing more than 40,000 workers and generating more than $9 billion in economic output, farming innovation is paramount in advancing provincial and federal interests.

2020 Grains Innovation Fund

For this reason, Grain Farmers of Ontario, which represents 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers, is offering the 2020 Grains Innovation Fund grant to support organizations involved in developing novel uses for Ontario grains. Companies with projects that satisfy the eligibility criteria for the fund can receive up to 60% of the cost of the project, up to a maximum of $50,000. Since the official launch of the Grains Innovation Fund in 2010, $1.2 million in funding has supported 45 projects, making it a great funding opportunity for companies dealing in the area of local grains.

New initiatives and growth opportunities are being offered this year by the fund to include an even larger scope of applicants and products after last year’s success stories in marketing and blockchain projects.

Eligible Costs:

  • Marketing activities and promotional materials (i.e. website design, social media, brochures, handouts, pop-up signs, banners).
  • Advertising and Consultant fees.
  •  Product development (i.e. formulation testing, focus groups, sensory panels).
  • Capital expenditures (new equipment for the sole purpose of carrying out this project only. NOTE: Capital expenditures on land, buildings or vehicles are NOT eligible.

Eligible applicants:

To qualify for funding from the Grains Innovation Fund, a company must demonstrate that their project utilizes a minimum of 40 metric tonnes per year of Ontario barley, corn, oats, soybeans and wheat crops or crop residues, while also meeting at least one of the following criteria:

  • Open new markets for Ontario grains or grain residues;
  • Expand the use of, and demand for, Ontario grains or grain residues;
  • Promote Ontario grains or grain residues as the best choice;
  • Identity preserve varieties for novel uses;
  • And/or increase the value (premiums) of Ontario grains or grain residues.

Apply for the 2020 Grains Innovation Fund

Applications for the Grains Innovation Fund must be submitted by 4pm on Friday, November 1st, 2019.

If you have any other questions about The Grains Innovation Fund or other programs to maximize your funding potential, please contact NorthBridge Consultants for a free consultation.

Authored by Philip Finkelstein, Technical Writer at NorthBridge Consultants.

Capitalizing on the Growing Demand for Alternative Proteins

Alternative proteins are proving evermore propitious in the AgriTech and FoodTech sectors of Canadian industry as traditional meats lose favorability under the rising tensions brought on by climate change, population increase, and greater demand for healthy and sustainable living.

Meat poses a unique challenge to the future given the environmental limitations of land and water required to support livestock capable of feeding a global population approaching 10 billion, at which point the current North American dietary standard will no longer meet sustainable development goals. With inordinate greenhouse gas emissions and health concerns connected to excess meat consumption also to consider, there has been burgeoning investment to develop alternative plant-based proteins in Canada.

Despite substantial scientific progress in this area over the last decade, ever-increasing demand for plant-based food and beverages and meat-alternative solutions continuously strains the ability of Canadian companies to stay competitive. It is thus critical that a business leverage all possible avenues of funding to maximize their innovative potential and development capabilities when pursuing advancement in alternative protein technologies.

Innovation, Science and Technology

From the release of Canada’s 2019 dietary guideline promoting plant-based proteins to consumer interest in plant-based foods and beverages rising by 25% in Q1, there is real incentive to boost R&D efforts in areas such as clean meats, meat-alternative technologies, and non-dairy milk formulations. The work being done to formulate new plant-based products and design advanced manufacturing processes are key examples of where a company’s everyday business objectives can translate into funding opportunities.

Attempts to deliver simulated meat products to market using only plant ingredients while achieving comparable qualities in texture and taste to that of real meats should not go unrewarded. Methods, such as high-moisture extrusion (HME), to adjust substrate properties like fiber structure and density, whether through recipe design or alterations in temperatures and pressures, are riddled with uncertainty, and can thus often qualify for funding support.

Presenting itself as an even newer technique than HME is shear-cell technology, which claims to have a smaller carbon footprint while yielding higher quality analogues more closely resembling real meats. With synthetic meat products derived from this form of processing soon to reach our shelves, there are future funding guarantees as innovation works to keep up with excited consumer demand.

Development of brown algae and kelp culture techniques, such as the artificial induction of sporogenesis or gametophyte culturing in vitro, are other exemplary applications within the plant-based protein field where novelty is being wholly encouraged through a myriad of funding options.

Lab-based methods of developing self-reproducing animal cells of various proeins, strategized to reduce land and water utilization, and improving stem cell extraction and growth capabilities are other areas where experimentation presents a ripe opportunity for funding given the potential these areas have for improving meat consumption sustainability. Similarly, the engineering of methane-based proteins is another clear case of where innovation has the potential to accrue substantial backing in funds.

Additionally, innovation in the field of cellular agriculture serves to address food security and environmental concerns by providing a means of replacing traditional livestock with technologies capable of growing meat from living or once-living cells in the form of its own cell culture media. Acellular agriculture, too, is an area proving highly innovative as new and improved methodologies are being devised to efficiently grow and harvest products from cell cultures to produce alternative proteins and agricultural items such as milk and egg whites.

Insects are also becoming a growing trend for meat alternatives as manufacturers have started using crickets and mealworms raised at scale to make protein-rich flour. Not only does raising crickets produce 100x less greenhouse gas emissions relative to cattle production, but crickets also have a higher concentration of protein than either beef or chicken. Hence, any endeavors to create insect-based products with desirable organoleptic qualities will likely make a business a prime candidate for funding.       

Non-Dilutive Funding Options to Support AgriTech Innovation

When dealing in AgriTech innovation, Canadian companies have a variety of non-dilutive funding options, such as tax credits, SR&ED financing and grants/programs, to support project development across stages of growth from R&D to commercialization and export.

SR&ED Tax Credits and Financing: The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program provides one of the most lucrative sources of non-dilutive funding to Canadian companies, with an average of over $3 billion in funds allocated each year. However, one of the main challenges with the SR&ED program is that it can often take up to a year to receive the refund. Companies can gain advanced access for up to 80% of their estimated refund through SR&ED accrual debt financing to accelerate the rate of funding when there are cash flow issues or government returns are delayed. This is particularly beneficial for early-stage companies as it allows them to obtain an advance on funding up to six months before filing to bridge the funding gap.

Grants/Programs: There are numerous grants and programs offered like the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), the FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII), and the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) SME Project Stream. Take the CAIF for example, which focuses on SMEs operating in building, transportation, industry, waste, and agriculture sectors within Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or New Brunswick; if eligible, a company can receive a rebate covering up to 25% of project costs for a maximum of $250,000 to support reducing energy usage, costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The application intake period is open until October 15, 2019, or until funding is exhausted. The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and CanExport are other funding sources to help with commercialization and export, which can then be combined with SR&ED tax credits to maximize funding potential. With $950 million in funding awarded to five high tech superclusters, including Protein Industries Canada, yet another means of funding an AgriTech business is available. Focusing on enabling agri-food technologies, Protein Industries Canada investment will be matched 50:50 by the private sector with the aim of making Canada a leading source for plant proteins.

Learn more about the specific details of each of these non-dilutive funding options here.

Canada’s strong appetite for change is a funding dream for those dishing out the next round of alternative protein solutions. To learn more about funding your AgriTech business, please contact us for a free consultation.


Authored by Philip Finkelstein, Technical Writer at NorthBridge Consultants.

Non-dilutive Financing Strategies for AgriTech Projects

It is envisioned that by 2025, Canada will be a leader in Agricultural technology, recognized globally as a reliable and competitive supplier of safe, sustainable, high-quality agri-food products.

In order to successfully realize this vision, significant obstacles must be overcome in relation to increasing demand for clean and sustainable farming practices as well as increasing food supply for anticipated population growth of up to 9 billion by 2050. To find solutions to these obstacles, modern agricultural operations are leveraging cutting edge technologies such as precision agriculture, remote monitoring of crops and livestock, machine learning techniques, agricultural robots, and IoT-based smart farming systems with cloud-based data analytics.

Canadian companies developing agritech solutions can turn to a variety of non-dilutive funding options such as grants, tax credits, and SR&ED financing to support their projects at various stages of growth, from R&D to commercialization and export.

Research and Development

  • SR&ED tax credits

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program is one of the most lucrative sources of non-dilutive funding, providing an average of over $3 billion to Canadian companies each year.

Qualified Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs) can receive up to 35% back of eligible expenditures incurred in the development of new or improved products or processes. Foreign-owned or public corporations can qualify for a 15% tax credit on eligible expenditures.

Most Canadian provinces offer additional tax credits on qualified SR&ED expenditures. Depending on the province, SR&ED claimants can earn additional provincial SR&ED tax credits. Read more about provincial tax credits to find out your province’s rate of return.

  • SR&ED Financing

The SR&ED tax credit program is critical for the viability of Canadian companies. However, it often takes over one year to receive the funding, which can be critical, particularly for early stage companiesSR&ED financing helps to alleviate existing cash flow issues in the form of accrual debt financing. Thereby, companies can obtain advanced funding to gain access to the SR&ED cash refund up to six months before filing. This enables early stage companies to bridge the funding gap and extend the runaway until the next funding round.

  • CAP

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3 billion, federal-provincial-territorial agreement launched on April 1, 2018, that will replace Growing Forward 2 (GF2). CAP provides cost-sharing funding for processors and other agri-related businesses.

Provincial programs under the partnership are tailored to meet regional needs through various streams. Federal programs under this partnership include AgriScience and AgriInnovate, which are focused on enhancing competitiveness through R&D and adoption of innovative products/practices, with an emphasis on sustainable and clean growth in the agricultural sector.

  • RII

Other government funding sources may be specific to provinces, such as the FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII). SMEs operating in rural Southern Ontario within priority sectors could receive a non-repayable grant to cover up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum of $100,000 through the FedDev RII Regional stream. Priority sectors include advanced manufacturing, clean technology, digital industries, food processing, and Agtech. The current application intake started on May 21, 2019, with project activities to be completed by December 31, 2020.

Commercialization

The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) supports companies that are investing in new technology projects that lead to new products, processes, or services in Canada, with an emphasis on commercialization. IRAP will cover labor and subcontractor costs. 

Applicants are allowed to apply to both IRAP and SR&ED as expenditures are not double-claimed.

Export

CanExport is a government funding program that provides funding to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support new export market development.

Previously, the CanExport program excluded the agriculture and food processing sectors, since companies in these industries were already eligible for export funding through the AgriMarketing program. However, as of August 22, 2019, the program will also be expanded to include supporting companies from Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-products industry, including fish and seafood. CanExport’s funding limit for SMEs will also increase to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses.

Eligible subsectors

Agri-tech subsectors that are eligible for the above non-dilutive funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Precision agriculture            
  • Agricultural machinery and robotics              
  • Agricultural biotechnology
  • AI-based Agritech and predictive analytics      
  • IoT-based smart farming, remote sensing, and advanced monitoring
  • Foodtech and supply chain management including food safety and traceability
  • WasteTech
  • Sustainable/alternative protein development and culturing
  • Irrigation and water management systems
  • Aquaculture

Agri-tech is poised to revolutionize food production and export practices by providing new opportunities and innovative solutions to imminent challenges such as climate change and food security. With increasing prioritization of the agri-food industry, an abundance of natural resources and access to various funding options, Canada is set to become a frontrunner in paving the way for an agricultural revolution.

NorthBridge Consultants has been assisting companies in accessing government funding for over 25 years. As one of the largest independent government funding consulting firms in Canada, our objective is to maximize the government funding potential for your company. Contact us today to find out how much funding your company could receive.

Co-authored by Rebecca Galicha, Technical Writer and Ela Malkovsky, Technical Writer/ Editor-in-Chief at NorthBridge Consultants.

Canadian Agricultural Partnership- Second Intake for Ontario Applications Opening Soon

The new Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), launched in April 2018, is a five-year, $3B federal-provincial-territorial agreement providing funding to agri-processors.

The second Ontario CAP application intake for producers, processors, and other Agri businesses will be opening from August 7 – 28, 2018.

Provincial CAP programs are being rolled out on a cost-shared (60:40) basis. Ontario’s CAP program offers various streams for agri-producers, processors and other businesses. For example, Ontario processors can apply for funding of up to:

  • $250K for integrating new or novel technological and equipment upgrades (defined as having been adopted by less than 20% of the sector in Ontario, to date) to improve labour productivity.
  • $100K for integrating Enterprise Resource Planning software.

Additional Ontario CAP streams are available to agri-processors to support other activities/initiatives, such as:

  • Food safety and traceability equipment.
  • Ingredient efficiency and waste reduction.
  • Marketing of products outside of Canada and internationally.
  • Monitoring plant pest and treat equipment and training.
  • Improving animal housing, and animal handling equipment with technology.

Is your company looking for funding to support innovation and business growth initiatives? Contact us today to find out how much funding your company could receive.

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