Goal 2: Circular Businesses and Collaborations

Goal 2: Circular Businesses and Collaborations

Read the Action Plan

Goal 2: Circular Businesses and Collaborations

A circular food economy inspires and creates a thriving, circular and regenerative economy.

goal 2
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  1. Businesses collaborate to create circular supply chains that reduce and reuse resource inputs and design out greenhouse gas emissions and waste.
  2. The regional business innovation ecosystem acts as an urban-rural living lab and test bed for new circular business models, products and services.
  3. Purpose-driven businesses use circular economy principles, data and technology, and collaborate with public partners to transform the regional economy.
  4. Impact funding and services are readily available to community collaborations, demonstration
  5. projects, businesses and social enterprises to accelerate and scale their ideas.



tgProcessing and distribution
2.1 Reduced environmental/carbon footprint 
2.2 Increased processing and distribution of local products 

kCircular business innovation
3.1 Increase in businesses adopting circular, collaborative strategies
3.2 New circular businesses launching and creating jobs
3.3 Increase in circular business revenue and cost savings 

jBuying, selling and sharing
4.1 Increase connections between local food businesses, manufacturers and consumers
4.2 Stronger and more resilient local supply chain
4.3 Increased circularity within the supply chain


Spotlights and Stories


Building a circular business ecosystem



Discovering value in waste



Our Stories

Creating a launchpad for circular innovation

coilLaunched in April 2021 with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) helps create, prove, and scale transformative circular solutions. By using Guelph-Wellington’s circular economy test-bed ecosystem, and in collaboration with Innovation Guelph and 10C, with support from University of Guelph, LaunchIT Minto, Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Provision Coalition, Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures, and the Guelph Wellington Business Centre, COIL aims to accelerate 49 circular businesses and launch five industrial-scale demonstration projects across southern Ontario. 

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Backing big ideas through the Harvest Impact Fund

harvest impactCOVID-19 sent shockwaves through Guelph-Wellington, exacerbating existing food insecurity and many other system-level issues. Now, Harvest Impact Cultivator Loans are helping local businesses recover from the pandemic, while shifting practices in ways that contribute to a more sustainable, equitable, and healthy food economy.

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Turning waste into opportunity

applesOne company’s trash can be another company’s treasure. That’s the idea behind the research that Western University’s Ivey School of Business is conducting in collaboration with Our Food Future. 

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Programs by Strategic Intervention Area

Processing & Distribution



Food Hub Study

Food Hub Study – In collaboration with the NGen Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, this study will assess the supports, facilities and other infrastructure needed to create an innovative circular agri-food system. This work includes a survey of the services and infrastructure in Wellington County that support food producers, as well as an assessment of whether there are adequate supports and facilities for the local agri-food industry.

Farmers’ Markets Online

Farmers’ Markets Online – To support local food producers during the pandemic, Our Food Future partnered with the Open Food Network, an open-source, not-for profit e-commerce platform, to help farmers’ markets across Guelph and Wellington County create online sales channels. Funding was made available to farmers and food vendors to access this online platform for all interested Guelph-Wellington markets and vendors.

Guelph Farmers' Market

Last Mile Delivery Pilot

Last Mile Delivery Pilot – This demonstration project addressed immediate community needs through novel food distribution models, transforming a local restaurant that was forced to close as a result of the pandemic into a market for fresh, local, affordable food. Renamed Corner Market Guelph, it acted as a delivery point for healthy groceries and locally prepared foods. The restaurant hired back some of its employees to pack and prepare pre-made meals and then deliver them using zero-emission electric bicycles.

Last Mile Distribution and Delivery Project

Circular Business Innovation



COIL Activate Accelerator and Evolve Pre-Accelerator

COIL Activate Accelerator and Evolve Pre-Accelerator – These unique business accelerator programs help sustainability-focused companies in the food and environment sectors learn, scale their business and expand their socio-environmental impacts. Participants receive funding, executive-level mentorship, access to a globally designed circular economy curriculum and connections across our Rural-Urban Testbed ecosystem. Participants in the program will become part of COIL’s circular economy business community and act as inspirational leaders to other businesses moving along the path of circular transformation. 

Activate Accelerator - COIL
Evolve Circular Pre-Accelerator - COIL
Creating a launchpad for circular innovation
Accelerating circular businesses across southern Ontario


COIL CoLab – With support from Innovation Guelph’s Circular Economy iHub, the CoLab issues innovation challenges to redesign supply chains in the food and environment sectors to reduce waste and transform existing linear business practices. The winning teams (made up of 3–7 businesses and collaborators) will be funded through our CoLab process to work with mentors and experts to build out their idea, create a prototype and pitch how the solution would work at full scale.

CoLab - COIL
COIL Circulate CoLab Challenge
COIL Circulate CoLab opens to support transformational supply chain innovation in Ontario

COIL Digital Passport and Guidebook

COIL Digital Passport and Guidebook – Working with Guelph’s Circular Economy iHub (CE iHub) at Innovation Guelph, COIL is implementing an intake process and a passport system that allows participating businesses to track their engagement with the many facets of Our Food Future. It will include a backend customer relationship management system to track interactions that will feed into a broader evaluation system and create a marketing presence for circular economy businesses

CE Digital Passport - COIL

Harvest Impact Cultivator

Harvest Impact Cultivator – This loan program led by 10C offered up to $360,000 of financing at 0% interest to approximately 36 Guelph-Wellington food system enterprises (including businesses, not-for-profits and social enterprises). Implemented in collaboration with Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures and Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, it was designed to support their recovery from current economic shocks and to help them shift their practices in a way that contributes to a more sustainable, equitable and healthy food economy.

Backing big ideas through the Harvest Impact Fund

Harvest Impact Project and Social Finance Fund

Harvest Impact Project and Social Finance Fund – The Harvest Impact Project works to engage circular and social entrepreneurs in transformational changemaking projects, offering pathways for collaborative grant-funding, social finance investment across an emerging network of social-first lenders. In its development stages, the Harvest Impact Social Finance Fund will provide circular and social entrepreneurs to access grants, loans, awards, including non-repayable start-up capital to high-potential projects. Harvest Impact is a pooled community-lending utility structured as a share capital cooperative, with available capital of $3,000,000+ to create local investment opportunities and provide seed financing investments to Guelph and Wellington’s leading circular solution businesses and collaborations.

Harvest Impact – Socially Financing Our Food Future
About 10C - Harvest Impact

COIL Re(PURPOSE) Incubator

COIL Re(PURPOSE) Incubator – The Re(PURPOSE) Incubator, led by Anthesis Provision, is specifically designed to help Ontario’s small and medium-sized food and beverage enterprises commercialize unavoidable food waste. Its services include by-product quantification, nutritional analysis, market analysis, value proposition analysis, partnership acceleration and more. The Re(PURPOSE) Incubator will be the first of its kind in Canada to associate these key functions and resources into one virtual and easily accessible platform. 

REPurpose Incubator - COIL

Seeding Our Food Future Micro Grants & Loans

Seeding Our Food Future Micro Grants & Loans – This program provided expert advice from Innovation Guelph, a series of virtual classes and non-repayable grants of up to $5,000 to help individuals, businesses and social enterprises across Guelph and Wellington County promote a green economic recovery and enhance food security in the wake of COVID-19. Support was offered to 40 new and existing businesses to advance circular business practices, for a total investment of $200,000. Learnings from this program informed the design of the new Evolve incubator program. 

Seeding Our Food Future - a response to COVID-19 - Video
Seeding Our Food Future Info Session - Video

Seeding Our Food Future
Seeding our food future 40 businesses at a time
Grow Back Better

Ivey Research Study

Ivey Research Study – Researchers at Western University’s Ivey Business School undertook a study to identify the most common existing food and plastic waste synergies and assess the impact of a circularity broker in facilitating these synergies. Currently, they are looking at what barriers exist and what policy levers could encourage food-waste synergies and plastic-waste synergies at scale through well-designed waste exchanges. They will also assess the structuring, functioning and impacts of circular networks of waste synergies that are currently emerging. 

R-Purpose MICRO – Provision Coalition

R-Purpose MICRO – Anthesis Provision — an Our Food Future collaborator — developed and delivered this training program for small businesses to incorporate circular economy principles and practices, thereby making their businesses more sustainable. Over 50 companies graduated from the program, expanding their skills and expertise in circularity and sustainability, creating valuable collaborative networks and implementing their own circularity plans.

RePURPOSE The Making of a Circular Food Experience - Video
R-Purpose MICRO - Provision Coalition
R-Purpose Micro - Circular Economy Training for Small Businesses

Circular Meal Pilot

Circular Meal Pilot – In this circular pilot project, three food items produced using circular practices – rainbow trout, bread and potatoes – were prepared and showcased at three local Neighbourhood Group restaurants as an “Our Food Future” menu special. Spent grain from a local brewery was used to create a fish supplement to feed the rainbow trout, and waste from the fish farm was used to fertilize the potato crop. Meanwhile, spent grain and spent yeast were used to make the sourdough bread. 

Guelph pilot project aims to reduce food waste from businesses

Buying, Selling and Sharing



COIL ReSource Exchange Marketplace

COIL ReSource Exchange Marketplace – This online platform supports the exchange and recycling of end-of-life materials between businesses and the sharing of underutilized equipment and resources. Functioning as a “commodities exchange,” it allows people to connect and utilize otherwise wasted materials, facilitating the distribution of by-products and waste generated in the food system.

ReSource Exchange Marketplace
Helping businesses build connection and reduce food waste
Creating a launchpad for circular innovation

Junction Food Network

Junction Food Network – Testing circular principles, baseline mapping and engagement at the local neighbourhood level with local food businesses and community members to better understand the food ecosystem. In Guelph’s Junction neighbourhood, this involves ecological asset mapping, community asset mapping and piloting an online platform that allows home gardeners to sell (or donate) the foods they are growing directly to their neighbours.

Junction Food Network - Whole Market
Circular Business Highlight of the Week: Junction Food Network
Junction neighbourhood to support food sharing through pilot project