Strengthening businesses in 2022

Spring signals a time of renewal – this is certainly more true in 2022 than in recent years. Our recovery as a community will require compassion, collaboration, and cooperation. In the coming months we will see Our Food Future initiatives move forward that will help address pressing issues such as food access and climate change.
Local businesses still need our support, too. Thanks to the work of our delivery partners and despite continuing challenges for food-related businesses, companies are adopting circular practices, collaborating to find value from waste, and launching new products and social enterprises. From the start of Our Food Future, we have been overwhelmed with the response from our business community which led to launching our sister initiative – Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad, or COIL.
This edition of On Our Plate focuses on those business supports and stories – this year, COIL sprung quickly forward, welcoming new businesses and collaborations across the breadth of our programs and setting the stage for an exceptional year of circular innovation and partnership.
We hope this finds you doing well as we reconnect and come together again.
Barbara Swartzentruber                                David Messer
Executive Director                                         Manager
Smart Cities Office                                        COIL


COIL in 30 seconds

Looking for the COIL “elevator speech”? You’re not alone – as our work expands, here’s a handy look at our purpose and programs. Pass it around and help spread the word!

COIL is a circular economy hub that offers a continuum of solutions and funding for a range of interested businesses: from the circular-curious to those with well-set circular systems, we support organizations in five ways:

  • Evolve - a pre-accelerator focused on early stage circular discovery and seed funding

  • Activate Accelerator helps proven circular businesses rapidly scale their impact and market readiness. 

  • Circulate Co-Lab help supply chain collaborations prototype innovations that reduce or create value from waste.

  • Re(Purpose) Incubator works one on one with businesses to audit their operations, reduce their food waste and ignite circular innovation.

  • Our Ecosystem provides resources, coaches and networks to help companies sustain their circular strategies.

Best of all? Every COIL program is available to businesses at no cost to them except for senior leadership commitment and time.  COIL is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Programs are open to any business across southern Ontario and are delivered in close collaboration with the business growth experts at Innovation Guelph and 10C.


Evolve applications close April 18

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Do you know a business that is early stage and circular curious? We are now accepting applications for the second cohort of the Evolve Circular Pre-Accelerator, a circular economy primer that will help food and environment sector businesses in southern Ontario identify, apply, and adopt circular economy approaches throughout their organization. This 16-week program offers successful applicants a $5,000 grant, additional $2,500 optional loan, hands-on executive-level mentorship, leading circular economy training and plenty more.

The Evolve program is a great step into the circular economy and prepares some participants to apply for our Activate Accelerator program.


Helping develop circular business strategies with Ivey


The circular economy is a trillion-dollar economic opportunity as noted in Environment and Climate Change Canada’s discussion paper Circular North America: Accelerating the Transition to a Thriving and Resilient Low-carbon Economy released in May 2021 as part of the World Circular Economic Forum.

Over 2022 we will be working with the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School and Ivey’s Network for Business Sustainability to take 30-60 food businesses through a structured innovation process to develop circular economy strategies for their business. Participants will work directly with Ivey faculty and industry peers to identify waste flow and develop material exchanges that create new business revenue and advance a more resilient circular economy in Ontario. Intake will begin in April 2022 with a program kick off in September 2022.

We are also working with University of Guelph to develop Circular Economy 101, an open online course that will teach individuals and businesses the basics about circular economy business strategy with the option of receiving a micro-credential from U of G. Look for CE 101 to launch in fall 2022.


First cohort produces successful ventures


As COIL nears its first anniversary, we’re delighted to share success stories from our first cohort of Accelerator and Co-Lab participants.

In 2021, Abokichi launched their upcycled ramen noodles, which was included in the Re(PURPOSE) upcycled meal kit along with their miso soup made from a sake brewing by-product. Now, the COIL Activate program is helping scale these products into national markets. Read their story.

Troubled by 75 annual tonnes of organic by-product from their juicing process, Greenhouse Juice teamed with Herbert Labs and SAINA+ to find a solution alongside the experts in COIL’s Circulate Co-Lab. Early prototyping successfully produced a whole plant powder for juices, teas, and other applications. As winners of $100,000 in demonstration project funding, the trio will further refine the process and scale their solution so  other businesses to replicate their success. Read their story.

Evolve social enterprise participant Be One To Give drew on COIL resources to test and help refine their nationwide food rescue app with a goal to close the gap between surplus food and access in underserved communities across Canada. Their technology provides retailers with the tools necessary to eliminate avoidable food waste in their daily operations.

Read more success stories  on the COIL website, or through our collaborators at Innovation Guelph.


ZWETL plans material flow study


Earlier this year we announced a new funding collaboration with The Co-operators to launch the Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab – ZWETL. The lab will apply circular economy theories to develop and test new opportunities to reduce or redirect waste. Its first project will explore how to divert construction, renovation and demolition (C&D) materials from landfill. The first research project is set to begin this spring. Modeled on the success of Our Food Future’s Food Waste Flow analysis, the Material Flow Analysis aims to identify where the most critical waste occurs across the C&D chain. Extensive engagement with community and sector experts will define the best intervention action plan to reduce those outputs. The process is also expected to set a clear methodology for other flow analyses across industry sectors.


Upcycle Certification Program


In partnership with COIL program delivery partner Anthesis Provision, will soon begin a  first-in-Canada certification program for upcycled consumer-facing products and ingredients, using the international upcycled certification standard.  Making it easy for consumers to identify upcycled products helps make the circular economy more tangible and will play an important role in increasing market demand for upcycled food products.  

More to come on these new initiatives.


You’ll want to bookmark these links

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CE Business Passport through Innovation Guelph’s CE iHub is more than a resource link – it’s a community that provides one-stop access to the full slate of mentoring organizations, businesses and non-profits and online resources – all facilitated by an iHub Connector to help participants get the most of their experience.

Resource Exchange boasts more than 100 members in this free online marketplace that connects organizations to buy, sell or trade materials that would otherwise be end-of-life. When it comes to food waste, one company’s trash could well be another’s treasure!


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