FedDev Ontario commits nearly $5 million to support Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad
Guelph, Ont., April 16, 2021 – Today, the Guelph-Wellington Smart Cities Office received new funding for a far-reaching initiative that will advance its goal to help create and support circular economy businesses and organizations in the region, and across Canada.
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario has committed nearly $5 million between 2021 and 2024 to support the creation of COIL – the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad. The announcement builds on the success of the Our Food Future initiative and strengthens Guelph-Wellington’s growing reputation as a national test bed and launchpad to advance circular economy business models and opportunities.
COIL will provide programs, funding, and platforms to accelerate circular businesses and concepts in the food and environment sectors. The program will also launch challenges and transformative sector-wide demonstration projects. Funding will support businesses affected by COVID-19 to help Guelph-Wellington and Canada recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“Canada is ready to be a world leader in green recovery, and southern Ontario’s businesses are in a unique position to drive this goal by adopting and advancing circular economy innovations and processes. This FedDev Ontario investment announced today will support the region’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow and strengthen this critical area, bringing their ideas to market faster, while reducing carbon emissions and creating 400 jobs,” says The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
“This is terrific news for our region and for Canadians,” says Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office. “Globally and locally, we have an opportunity to ‘build forward better’. From climate change to inequality, we are now seeing the consequences and negative effects of our ‘take, make, dispose’ socioeconomic model on our communities and the planet.”
- Develop a Circular Economy Accelerator to support the growth of 45 high-potential circular economy businesses with coaching and up to $40,000 in funding per business.
- Expand the Harvest Impact social impact investment fund with a goal to raise $3 million and create a community-based lending facility that provides access to capital for food and environment sector companies and enterprising not-for-profits.
- Lead five flagship demonstration projects that will explore, test and prove circular business models, with up to $100,000 available per project.
- Launch three innovation challenges that incentivize cross-industry collaboration and surface transformative ideas to redesign supply chains or business models.
- Expand the Guelph-Wellington Circular Economy Urban Rural Test Bed to provide resources and connections to support innovators and researchers from across southern Ontario.
- Expand the Circular Economy Data Hub to gather and strengthen access to essential data required to inform research and problem-solving.
- Launch a ReSource Exchange virtual business-to-business marketplace to match unwanted but still valuable by-products with those that can turn that waste into a new value stream.
Program details and participation guidelines will be released in late summer 2021.
A fundamental principle of the project is collaboration and multi-stakeholder participation. COIL partners and collaborators include:
- Alectra Green Energy and Technology Centre
- Arrell Food Institute, University of Guelph
- Business Centre Guelph-Wellington
- Carleton University
- Circular Innovation Council
- Conestoga College
- Guelph-Wellington Our Food Future Initiative
- Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, University of Guelph
- Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario
- John F Wood Centre, University of Guelph
- LaunchIT Minto
- Provision Coalition
- Saugeen Community Futures
- Smart Prosperity Institute
- Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures
- Circular Economy Leadership Coalition
About the circular economy
A circular economic framework provides pathways to a sustainable, inclusive, low carbon economy. New business models are being created that are inspired by nature’s circular systems, where there is no such thing as waste. From production to consumption, circular businesses and supply chains anticipate and design for resources and goods to be either safely returned to nature, or back into systems where they can be reused or renewed, creating economic value without comprising the environment.
A circular food system, for example, aims to disrupt current models to eliminate waste by keeping as much energy, nutrients and materials as possible cycling through the system—and generating value as a result. It looks at everything from how we produce food to how we distribute, sell and consume it; and, it looks at how these disruptions can benefit society as a whole – creating sustainable, inclusive communities.
Circularity is proven to:
- Save and regenerate our natural resources;
- Reduce carbon emissions;
- Add material savings for businesses and consumers;
- Ignite innovation, business and job creation; and
- Contribute to community resiliency.
Circular principles can be applied to just about every sector of the economy, from textiles to tires, electronics to building supplies. Learn more about the concept of the circular economy through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a global leader in accelerating circularity across a breadth of industries and systems.
About Our Food Future
Guelph-Wellington has emerged as an international leader in developing and supporting circular economy systems in the food sector. The Our Food Future initiative was awarded $10 million in 2019 from Infrastructure Canada after competing in the Smart Cities Challenge.
The program continues to implement several projects to increase local access to nutritious food by 50 per cent, increase circular economic benefit by 50 per cent by unlocking the value of waste, and create at least 50 new circular businesses and collaborations.
The latter goal will be met by the end of 2021, three years ahead of schedule, and shows no sign of slowing down. In summer 2020, the Seeding Our Food Future program, developed in response to COVID-19 to support the recovery and development of food businesses, provided grants of up to $5,000 to 40 local entrepreneurs or small enterprises to launch new circular food businesses or collaborations or adopt circular practices. The program was heavily oversubscribed, with more than 70 regional applicants and strong interest from entrepreneurs beyond Guelph-Wellington. COIL will provide more support for this demand.
“Now, more than ever, supporting environmentally-friendly solutions and processes is essential for Canada’s future and economic sustainability. With FedDev Ontario’s funding for the City of Guelph to establish a circular economy-focused accelerator and test platform, we are helping to jumpstart new companies to develop their innovations and bring their products to market, while supporting southern Ontario’s economy, and, more importantly, the health of our communities and the environment."
Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph
“The Our Food Future team has forged a set of tools they can now extend to others, further strengthening our region. Congratulations to everyone involved with the Our Food Future initiative.”
Kelly Linton, Warden, County of Wellington
“Once again, Guelph-Wellington is at the forefront of innovative, exciting projects that benefit everyone in our communities and beyond. This funding announcement is a testament to the commitment and innovation happening across our region.”
Cam Guthrie, Mayor of Guelph
“This is a proud achievement that is helping put Guelph-Wellington on the map as a leader in sustainability and economic development. Local businesses have shown a huge appetite for this kind of advanced thinking, as do our residents. COIL is an exciting opportunity for businesses and organizations to access funding, connections and expertise that will help them move towards a more sustainable circular economy.”
Scott Stewart, CAO, City of Guelph
“The Smart Cities Office has worked closely with businesses and community organizations over the past two years. We have heard loud and clear that they are ready to embrace the principles of a circular economy and this investment goes a long way to helping us support them.”
Anne Toner Fung, Executive Director, Innovation Guelph
“Social and environmental responsibility is the way of the future. Place-based impact investing ensures that individuals, companies and foundations can invest in positive change happening in their communities. Harvest Impact Fund will also collaborate with a new field of social-first lenders across Ontario to provide support for COIL companies.”
Julia Grady, Executive Director, 10C
Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3066
David Messer, Program Manager Data and Technology
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3661
Justine Dainard, Smart Cities Project Manager
County of Wellington
519-837-2600 extension 2540